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

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)



Raffaele Abete (Duke)



Matthew Curran (Sparafucile)



Leyla Martinucci (Maddalena)


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


Jordan Braun, assistant director


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