Friday, May 17 • 9 p.m.
Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) makes his Met debut with a new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto. The new staging moves the opera’s tragic events from a decadent 16th-century Italian court to the glitzy, depraved setting of the Las Vegas strip circa 1960, and airs on Great Performances at the Met Friday, May 17 at 9 p.m. on WOUB-TV.
Polish tenor Piotr Beczala sings the Duke, an amoral lounge singer whose entourage includes the world-weary comedian Rigoletto, sung by Serbian baritone Željko Lučić. German sopranoDiana Damrau sings the role of the innocent Gilda, Rigoletto’s daughter and the victim of the predatory Duke. Slovakian bass Štefan Kocán sings the assassin-for-hire Sparafucile and Belarusian mezzo-soprano Oksana Volkova makes her Met debut as his seductive sister, Maddalena. Italian conductor Michele Mariotti conducts his first company performances of the Verdi masterwork, which features one of the most famous arias in all of opera, “La donna è mobile.”
Soprano Renee Fleming hosts the transmission and conducts backstage interviews with the stars.
“Rigoletto hits the jackpot,” declared Associated Press when the production debuted in January, while Bloomberg News reported, “Mayer captures both the emotional depth and surface glitter in an audacious staging…. The audience whooped approval at the end.” The Wall Street Journalnoted that “(t)he strong cast of principals carries out the concept with gusto.”