- October 12, 2019
Glyndebourne Tour’s brand new production of the Verdi favourite is a triumphant coup de théâtre. From the very opening moment, the clever shift in time and place works, the drama unfolds with the dramatic intensity of the very best film noir. Early 20th century Hollywood, a hot bed sexual intrigue and gangster culture and the assumed “royal” status of the studios, directors and stars all provide a rich setting for what takes place, a dark thriller. Christian Tabakoff’s sparse opening setting unfolds into a series of beautifully realised backdrops, the chorus populate it in the unmistakable styles of Norman Rockwell, Natascha Maraval’s costumes, colour palette and mannerisms reflect this, they are all there. I even grew to accept the strange presence of a Chaplin figure drifting in and out of the action.
So on to the performances, the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra under the baton of Thomas Blunt were on fine form and the chorus too. Matteo Lippi is every inch the Duke of Mantua, sexy, and believably seductive, and his voice is soaringly beautiful. Oleg Budaratskiy’s deep toned Sparafucile is terrifyingly sinister and Madeleine Shaw’s Maddalena is wickedly poisonous and lascivious. It has to be noted that the dramatic skills of the entire company have really been brought to the fore by director Christiane Lutz.
The fabulous quartet as they head towards the denoument was breathtaking, not only in its beauty but also in the precision, especially as the two couples were singing at polar opposites of the expanse of the stage
Nikoloz Lagvilava is magnificent as Rigoletto, darkly passionate and heartbreakingly so too and every moment of drama matched by beautiful vocal performance. In fact the whole production was special because of this perfect balance of drama and song.a
Finally but by no means least we come to Vivu Mpofu as Gilda. This was a star performance almost beyond words, but once must try so he goes, pure, passionate, precise… in short perfection. There was a real buzz last night in the audience, a sense that we had experienced something very special and witnessed the birth of a star of the future.