Verdi's Rigoletto

Friday, January 26, 2018 at 7:30pm & Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 2pm

Student Night at the Opera Performance on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 7pm

The Historic Valentine Theatre - Conducted by James Meena- Directed by Tomer Zvulin

Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic masterpiece returns to Toledo Opera after a ten-year absence. The court jester Rigoletto is happy to aid the amorous Duke in his seductions until the Duke turns his attention to Rigoletto’s own daughter, but vengeance proves a curse. James Meena will conduct an acclaimed international cast, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, and the Toledo Opera Chorus in this production designed by director Tomer Zvulun.

Act 1

Scene 1

The Duke of Mantua is in his club, boasting to one of his followers about his success with women. He proceeds to flirt with the Countess Ceprano, while his jester, Rigoletto, cruelly mocks her husband. Meanwhile, another acquaintance, Marullo, tells his friends of a surprising discovery: he has heard that Rigoletto has a mistress hidden away at home.

Rigoletto continues to taunt the Count who retaliates by arranging a midnight meeting with some of the other members present where he will extract his revenge on the jester.

An elderly nobleman, Count Monterone, enters and denounces the Duke for seducing his daughter. He curses the Duke and when mocked by Rigoletto, Monterone turns on him and curses him as well. The curse strikes terror on Rigoletto, for the woman he lives with is not his mistress, but his daughter.

Scene 2

Brooding over Monterone’s curse, Rigoletto returns to the home he shares with his daughter, Gilda, hiding her away from the licentiousness that takes place at the Duke’s club. On his way home, he is confronted by Sparafucile, a professional assassin, who offers him his services. Rigoletto sends him away, but then muses on the parallels between their professions.

Gilda greets her father, and begins to ask him questions about their family and background, which he refuses to answer. Determined to protect Gilda he forbids her to leave their home, except to attend church. He also warns Gilda’s companion, Giovanna, not to allow anyone to enter the house while he is out. However, the Duke steals in and hides. While in hiding, he is astonished to hear Rigoletto call Gilda his daughter as he bids her farewell.

Gilda confesses to Giovanna that she is in love with a young man who has been following her home every day after church. On hearing this, the Duke appears and declares his love for Gilda, identifying himself as Gualtier Maldè, a penniless student. Hearing footsteps, he rushes off, leaving Gilda thinking lovingly of his name.

The club members appear, masked and ready to abduct Rigoletto’s supposed mistress. He surprises them by returning, but Marullo convinces him that they are planning to abduct the wife of Count Ceprano who lives nearby. Rigoletto falls into their trap, permitting himself to be blindfolded and masked. Unknowingly, he assists the conspirators in their abduction of his daughter. Gilda cries out to her father as she is carried off. Becoming suspicious, Rigoletto tears off the blindfold, realises Gilda is gone and cries, ‘Ah, the curse!’

Act 2

The Duke laments the loss of Gilda but when he is told of the abduction, he rejoices that she is now at his club.

When Rigoletto appears, he feigns nonchalance. Once it becomes clear to him that Gilda must be with the Duke, he tries to reach her, but the club members hold him back. His denunciation of their treachery dissolves into a bereft father’s pleading.

Left alone with Rigoletto, Gilda confesses that she is in love with the Duke and begs her father to forgive him. As Monterone is led to his execution, Rigoletto swears that they both will be avenged.

Act 3

Rigoletto has brought Gilda to Sparafucile to prove her lover’s faithlessness. As they lurk in the darkness, the Duke enters. After proclaiming the fickleness of women, he showers attentions on Maddalena, the assassin’s sister, as Rigoletto tries to comfort his despairing daughter. He orders her to disguise herself as a boy and meet him in Verona. After striking a bargain with Sparafucile for the Duke’s murder, Rigoletto departs.

Gilda returns in her disguise in time to overhear Maddalena begging her brother to spare the handsome stranger’s life. Sparafucile agrees to deceive Rigoletto by substituting the corpse of the next person who appears. Having returned determined to sacrifice herself so the Duke may live, Gilda becomes Sparafucile’s next victim.

At the stroke of midnight, Rigoletto pays the assassin and reserves for himself the satisfaction of throwing the sack containing his enemy’s corpse into the river. When he hears the Duke’s voice in the distance, he opens the sack and finds his daughter instead of the Duke. Begging her father’s forgiveness, she dies. The despairing Rigoletto cries out once more, ‘Ah, the curse!’ (Courtesy of English National Opera)

Eglise Gutierrez (Gilda)

Soprano Eglise Gutiérrez, receiving acclaim as “one of opera’s next wave” from Opera News for her portrayals of Bel Canto opera’s preeminent leading ladies, has performed at some of the world’s most prestigious opera houses. This season finds Eglise Gutiérrez at The Metropolitan Opera for their production of I puritani. Renowned for her interpretation of Amina in La sonnambula, Ms. Gutiérrez regularly performs the role on international stages including The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Carnegie Hall, and Michigan Opera Theatre, under the direction of Renata Scotto and the baton of Maestro Richard Bonynge. Previous seasons have seen Ms. Gutiérrez performing such roles as the title role in Thaïs with Florida Grand Opera; all four heroines in Les contes d'Hoffmann with Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona; and La fée in Cendrillon at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, La Monnaie Brussels, and L’Opéra Comique in Paris. Other previous engagements include Norina in Don Pasquale with Cincinnati Opera; Gilda in Rigoletto at Semperoper Dresden, Opernhaus Zürich, Hamburgische Staatsoper and Teatro dell'Opera di Roma; and Elvira in I puritani at Teatro Real Madrid, Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Greek National Opera and Seattle Opera.


Anooshah Golesorkhi (Rigoletto)

Anooshah Golesorkhi has achieved renown as a charismatic and forceful interpreter of the most demanding baritone roles with the world’s leading opera companies. In North America, he has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera as Amonasro (Aida) and Alfio (Cavalleria Rusticana), San Francisco Opera as Shaklovity (Khovanshchina), and in the title role of Arshak II and as Ezio (Attila) at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Golesorkhi has also sung at most of the major European houses including the Vienna State Opera (Alfio); the Deutsche Oper Berlin as Rigoletto, Nabucco, Alfio, and Amonasro; Hamburg State Opera as Macbeth; Leipzig Opera as Nabucco, Germont, and Tonio; Stuttgart Opera as Scarpia; the Rome Opera on tour to Japan as Rigoletto and in Rome as Jochannan, Iago, and as Jack Rance in La Fanciulla del West.



Raffaele Abete (Duke)

As the winner of the competition “Una voce per l’Arena,” Italian tenor Raffaele Abete made his debut at the Arena di Verona as Ismaele in Verdi’s Nabucco in the summer of 2015. His other recent engagements include Romeo in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette on opening night of Arena di Verona’s 93rd Lyric season, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor at Teatro Gaetano Donizetti in Bergamo, and Rodolfo in La bohème at Teatro Filarmonico di Verona. Mr. Abete’s upcoming engagements include Rigoletto at Teatro Filarmonico di Verona. Born in Naples in 1984, Mr. Abete studied at the Conservatorio di Musica Domenico Cimarosa in Avellino, under the guidance of Maestro Pasquale Tizzani. He currently resides in Milan and studies with Maestro Antonio Lemmo. 


Matthew Curran (Sparafucile)

Bass Matthew Curran’s operatic repertoire includes Filippo (Don Carlo), Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Oroveso (Norma), Frère Laurent (Roméo et Juliette), and Colline (La Bohème). His 2016-2017 engagements include Orbazzano (Tancredi) with Baltimore Concert Opera and Opera Southwest, a debut with Odyssey Opera to sing Basil in Lowell Liebermann’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Terry in the New York premiere of Breaking the Waves, by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, and Thomas Betterton in the NY premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players. Handel’s Messiah brings him to Prescott, Arizona, and he returns to Duke University Chapel to sing Jesus in Bach’s St. John Passion. The 2015-2016 season included the role of Ramfis (Aida) at both Opera Southwest and Baltimore Concert Opera, Don Iñigo Gomez (L’Heure Espagnole) with Opera Memphis, and Pistola (Falstaff) with Opera Delaware.


Leyla Martinucci (Maddalena)

Mezzosoprano Leyla Martinucci recently appeared as Lola in Il Cavalleria Rusticana, Maestra delle Novizie in Suor Angelica, and Flora in La traviata for Miami Lyric Opera and in critically acclaimed performances of Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele in Noto, Italy. In 2015, she was invited to sing with the Wuhan Philarmonic Orchestra in China to sing Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, conducted by Stefano Vignati, for the Opening night of the Festival Barocco, and at the opening night of the Veneto Festival with I Solisti Veneti in the Mozart Requiem and Albinoni’s Magnificat under the baton of Claudio Scimone. She also sang La Gloria for the World premier of Vivalidi’s La Gloria e Imeneo at Villa Manin in Udine with La Fenice Orchestra. She currently studies with the renowned Mezzosoprano Luciana D'Intino.

Ashfraf Sewailam (Monterone)

The New York Times hailed Ashraf Sewailam’s début at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall as a “stand out performance” and Opera News described his voice as “purring and velvety with an easily produced Ramfis-like top range with a majestic tone,” and his stage presence as “strong, mysterious and with mesmerizing intensity.” This season, Mr. Sewailam performs the roles of Mustafa in L’italiana in Algeri with Portland Opera, Alidoro in La Cenerentola with San Diego Opera, and Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera San Antonio. Recently, in his début with New Zealand Opera as the assassin Sparafucile in Rigoletto, he was described as “hard to better, both vocally and dramatically.” He subsequently returned to sing Alidoro in La Cenerentola, which he later performed for Queensland Opera. Ashraf made his United States début in 2004 with Opera Colorado performing the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni.  Quickly becoming a house favorite, he subsequently performed there as Count Ceprano in Rigoletto, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and King in Aïda.

James Meena, conductor

Toledo Opera’s principal artistic advisor consistently earns critical acclaim for his artistic vision and dynamic presence on the podium.  Mo. Meena¹s guest conducting engagements have included the Washington Opera; the Pittsburgh Opera; L’Opera de Montreal; Michigan Opera Theater; Arizona Opera; the KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, South Korea; the National Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of China; the Pittsburgh Symphony; the Cairo Philharmonic in Egypt; the Grand Rapids Symphony; the Toledo Symphony; the Orchestra of the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Sicily; and, the Orchestra Regionale Toscana in Florence, Italy.  This season, he opened the New York City Opera season with the historic double bill of Rachmaninov’s Aleko and Pagliacci, as well as his Memphis Symphony Classics debut, and his return to L’Opera de Montreal for La Bohème.  For more than a decade, he was principal conductor for the Toledo Opera, resident conductor of the Toledo Symphony, and conductor for the Cleveland/San Jose Ballet.  Mo. Meena has conducted legendary singers Renee Fleming, Denyce Graves, James McCracken, Diana Soviero, Mignon Dunn, Marilyn Horne, Sherril Milnes, Jerome Hines, and Marcello Giordani.


Tomer Zvulin, director

General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera since 2013, Tomer Zvulun earns consistent praise for his creative vision, often described as cinematic and fresh. His work has been presented by prestigious opera houses around the world, including The Metropolitan Opera, the opera companies of Seattle, Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Buenos Aires, Wexford, New Orleans and Wolf Trap, as well as leading educational institutes and universities such as The Juilliard School, Indiana University, Boston University, and IVAI in Tel Aviv.

Known for creating innovative, visually striking new interpretations for standard operas as well as championing new works by American composers, his passion for producing new works by living composers was realized in the acclaimed European premiere of Kevin Puts’s Silent Night in Wexford Festival Opera in the fall of 2014. The production won two Irish Times Awards and will be remounted in The Glimmerglass Festival. His focus on new works continues in the 2016-17, when he will be creating the world premiere of Dinner at Eight (Bolcom) in a co production between Minnesota and the Wexford Festival and directing the revivals of Soldier Songs in San Diego and Silent Night in Atlanta.


Jordan Braun, assistant director


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