Great Performances: Rigoletto from Mantua on WXXI-TV

Great Performances: Rigoletto from Mantua on WXXI-TV

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 9:30pm

Photo Caption: Plàcido Domingo stars in the baritone title role of Rigoletto

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cristiano Giglioli (c) Rada Film

From Andrea Andermann comes a visually and musically spectacular production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, filmed on location in Mantua, Italy.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto – recorded in high definition in the Renaissance splendor of Mantua, Italy, in the actual places and hours of the day specified in the libretto– was broadcast live around the world, or as close as time zones would allow,  on September 4 and 5, 2010. Now, that critically acclaimed broadcast – hailed by President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano as a “great National event,”comes to Great Performances Friday, July 15 at 9:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11).

Directed by Marco Bellocchio, Rigoletto from Mantua stars Plàcido Domingo in the baritone title role of Rigoletto; Julia Novikova as his innocent daughter Gilda; Vittorio Grigolo as the womanizing Duke; and Ruggero Raimondi as the assassin Sparafucile.

Academy Award-winning Vittorio Storaro shot the vivid high-definition cinematography. The RAI National Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Zubin Mehta.  The opera is one of the maestro’s favorite operas. “It is not only Verdi at the peak of his creativity, but also a spectacular theatrical ‘thriller,’” says Mehta.

Critics around the world raved about the results. The Sunday Times of London proclaimed, “What a triumph for the producer and the technical team.” The BBC marveled, “It was just fantastic the way they made it all work.” Il Tempo dubbed it “Colossal.” Le Libre Belgique enthused, “The cast is fabulous, and images resound from a tension both visible and emotional.”

Based on how it was conceived and developed, Rigoletto from Mantua is one of the most complex audio-visual operations ever attempted.  Through an advanced and sophisticated technological system, the locations in different points of the city of Mantua were seamlessly linked together. Maestro Mehta performed the music of Verdi from the Teatro Scientifico Bibiena.
The 16th century comes to life in the accomplished photography of Vittorio Storaro, who performed similar duty for the first two live operas. Bellocchio achieved the difficult task of leading the artists in the interpretation of the characters, all the while dealing with the complex task of directing a Live Film.

The locations chosen included: the sumptuous rooms of Palazzo Te, the famous villa of parties, receptions, and idleness of the Duke of Mantua, built between 1525 and 1535 by the architect and painter Giulio Romano at the will of Federico II Gonzaga; Palazzo Ducale, the main residence of the Gonzaga rulers, Marquis and ultimately the dukes of the city of Mantua, also The Fortress of Sparafucile, known as the Rock of Rigoletto, a former military garrison Gonzaga located at the entrance to the city of Mantua.

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