Giuseppe Verdi

  • World premiere
  • Teatro La Fenice din Veneția, 11 martie 1851
  • Romanian Opera Craiova Premiere
  • 21 februarie 2010
  • Time Length
  • aprox. 2h, 30’– o pauză
  • Extra info
  • Spectacol în limba italiană cu supratitrare în limba română

Opera in three acts composed by Giuseppe Verdi.

Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play Le roi s’amuse by Victor Hugo.

The action takes place in Mantua (Italy), in the 16th century.


A party at the court of the Duke of Mantua. The young man tells a fellow that he is interested in a beautiful girl he recently saw in church. He states his libertine conceptions on love in the aria “This woman or that”. Rigoletto, the buffoon, is submissive to the duke and mocks those whose wives or daughters have been raped by the duke. Someone comes with the rumour that Rigoletto has a secret lover. A young count, deeply offended by the buffoon, plans a vengeance, together with other men. Then, an old count, hurt by his daughter’s humiliation, solemnly curses the buffoon.

Rigoletto, the buffoon, returns late to his house, surrounded by a high fence, in the neighbourhood of the home of the young count he had offended. On the way home he is approached by a man he does not know, who says his name is Sparafucile and provides his services as an assassin. Rigoletto tells him to go away. Haunted by remorse and obsessed with the old count’s curse, Rigoletto feels he is an assassin too. He says: “We are alike! I, with words, he, with the dagger”. Coming inside the house, the buffoon is welcomed by his daughter, Gilda, whom he keeps in hiding in order to protect her from the libertine life at the court. Gilda assures him that she has only left the house for the church service. Rigoletto leaves the house for a very short time. The Duke of Mantua, disguised as a poor student, enters the yard and hides behind a tree. From here, he heard as Gilda tells her governess of a young admirer who followed her from church to home. It was, of course, the Duke of Mantua, who comes out of his hiding and makes passionate love declarations to Gilda. He gives her a fake name: Gualtier Malde. Gilda falls in love with the so-called student and, as he leaves, she sings the aria “Dearest name”. In the meanwhile, the people enticed by the young count to take revenge on Rigoletto gather in the street. They all imagine that Gilda is the buffoon’s lover. As Rigoletto comes back, they set him a trap. With his eyes bandaged, the buffoon willingly agrees to participate in the supposed abduction of the wife of the young count, his neighbour. However, as he remains alone and he takes the bandage off his eyes, Rigoletto is appalled to find out that he was the one supporting the ladder that the abductors of his only daughter had used to enter his home.


The Duke of Mantua is delighted to find out that Gilda had been abducted and is at the palace. Rigoletto comes to the palace to search for his daughter and the revengeful courtiers mock his grief. After some time, Gilda comes to her father’s arms and tells him, in tears, that she has been abducted and raped. The curse of the old count, who is on his way to prison, is again heard from outside. Gilda’s love for the duke is so deep, that she is able to forgive him and tries to calm down her father’s thirst of revenge.


Rigoletto tries to persuade Gilda of the lousy character of the Duke of Mantua, hoping he will “cure” her from love. To this purpose, he brings her to the tavern of the assassin Sparafucile, where the duke will come lured by the assassin’s sister. Rigoletto and Gilda hide and watch through the tavern window as the duke comes disguised as a chivalry officer. He sings an aria on feminine frivolousness: “Woman is fickle”. Gilda suffers as the duke courts the assassin’s sister. Rigoletto sends her home and tells her to get dressed in male clothes, as he intends to take her away from Mantua. After Gilda leaves, Rigoletto confirms his contract with Sparafucile: the duke of Mantua shall be killed by midnight, and then the buffoon must come and throw the body into the river. A dreadful tempest begins after Rigoletto’s departure. Drunken, the duke of Mantua goes to a room and sleeps. Now alone, Sparafucile and his sister discuss the planned murder. The assassin’s sister is attracted by the duke and would like to save him, but the temptation of money is too strong. Eventually, the two make a deal: if a stranger comes to look for shelter in the tavern by midnight, they will kill him and they will deliver another body to Rigoletto. Their conversation is overheard by Gilda, who has come back to the tavern dressed as a man, in order to see the duke for one last time. Out of love and despair, she decides to sacrifice for the duke. She is stabbed as she opens the door, while the thunders shake the tavern. At dawn, Rigoletto comes with the money and receives a sack, where he is told that the duke’s body lies. As he reaches the river shore with the sack, Rigoletto hears the voice of the Duke of Mantua, who was coming home after the tempest had stopped. The duke is singing: “Woman is fickle”. The buffoon opens the sack and is horrified to find the still alive Gilda. Father and daughter bid farewell and ask each other for forgiveness. Gilda dies in Rigoletto’s arms. Shattered by grief, the buffoon remembers the old count’s curse.


*Grigore Constantinescu & Daniela Caraman-Fotea, Ghid de operă, Bucharest, 1971

**Ana Buga & Cristina Maria Sârbu, 4 secole de teatru muzical, Bucharest, 1999

***Ioana Ștefănescu, O istorie a muzicii universale, Vol. IV, Bucharest, 2002