Cher Public

No dice

“The Met took a gamble on a new production of Rigoletto Monday night—but, dramatically at least, the show crapped out…. It’s your grandfather’s Rigoletto, tarted up like a musical version of Ocean’s Eleven.” [New York Post]

  • Simon Blackmouth

    Sure, the Met deserves credit for trying something new with this “Rigoletto.” But what happened in Vegas should have stayed in Mantua.

    Well played, sir. Well played.

    • Chanterelle

      This review sings!

    • kennedet


  • bassoprofundo

    Odd that during the chat the other night everyone to a man thought that Beczala sounded underwhelming (and that’s a compliment), whereas most of the in-house reviews thought he did quite well.

    At the very least his voice sounded… different. As if it had lost some of its brilliance and shine from years before. Good or bad, I wonder—did JJ notice a difference in Beczala’s voice compared to, say, the Lucias he sang in in 2008?

    • Krunoslav

      Beczala sounded very good throughout in the house. Lacks a bit of italian morbidezza, but there’s not that much needed in this part. Kind of a Gedda-ish approach, as often from him. To me, the clear star of the evening.

      • JJ

        I agree. Beczala was definitely “singing out” and maybe a note or two here or there was a notch past optimum beauty. But he sounded really really fine, musical, with a great spin on the tone. In fact, I was marveling at how young he sounded, a tenor in his mid 40s, who has been singing professionally for two decades or more.

      • oedipe

        I am sure Grigolo in the second cast will have plenty of italianate morbidezza. Problem is, he is too Italian and “greasy” for Parterrian tastes.

        • ianw2

          Is ‘morbidezza’ the new ‘italianita’?

          • Ilka Saro

            Toscanini refused to play Morbidezza. Got him in all kinds of trouble.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

          • The Vicar of John Wakefield

            Whatever these disappetizing foreign terms mean, we don’t want such qualities interfering with the clean, hygenic tone needed for proper oratorio style. I’ll hold with “Never sing louder than lovely”!

        • operaassport

          Grigolo will look better in the costumes and even better if they let him take them off.

          • louannd

            If you are going to do Rigoletto as a *simple updating*, then let’s move it up to the early 90s and Grigolo could channel Kyle MacLachlan.

          • louannd

            a clip, a clip!

          • manou

            Callipygian indeed.

    • Chanterelle

      The difference between internet feed and live in-house can be striking. I quite enjoyed Opolais’s debut in the theater on opening night while friends listening online had nothing good to say.

      • Will

        Thank you, Chanterelle — I had exactly the same impression — this is really OK, but what was all the shouting about?

    • bluecabochon

      As some of us opined to you, Basso, in chat, who were actually in the house for the Rigoletto final dress last Friday, Beczala sounded great, but you chose to not acknowledge that. NOT everyone agreed with your pronouncements that he is in the final moments of his career, if you remember. He also sounded brilliant in Manon last season. Maybe you need to see him live one of these days.

    • grimoaldo

      “during the chat the other night everyone to a man thought that Beczala sounded underwhelming (and that’s a compliment)”


  • SF Guy

    The Vegas concept for Rigoletto is not exactly new--Julien Temple got there 25 years ago (more entertainingly, I suspect) in Aria:

    (If this has already been posted somewhere, my apologies.)

    • SF Guy

      (Technically it’s not Vegas, but the Madonna Inn is about as close as you can come without leaving California, right down to Elvis.)

    • Often admonished

      You’ve all forgotten Dr Jonathan’s ENO 1955 Little Italy update which actually said it all, much better. It was loudly condemned by Italian-American garbage contractors when ENO toured it to the MET.

      Pity the Vicar doesn’t seem to be around to remind you in excruciating detail.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Geschlosene Vorstellung! Perhaps it would be wise for the MET to consider presenting a closed performance for the Italian-American garbage contractors, who could cart the whole thing away if they did not like it.

        • Often admonished

          That’s what I like -- a practical solution.

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Actually it has been fairly extensively discussed on here in the run up to this new Met Rigoletto.

      • The Vicar of John Wakefield

        Indeed, Often, Rawnsley was the most credible Rigoletto since that fine Aussie Brownlee; nor has there ever been--at least since the halcyon days of Gwen Catley wowing the crowds in the “Hi-de-Hi” revue--a finer “Sweet name” than that sung in good, clean English by Helen Field.


        • Camille

          What was the “Hi-de-Hi” revue, pray tell?

          Should I dare ask, as a damned Yank?

          • The Vicar of John Wakefield

            Not the disgraceful show on the telly, but:


          • Camille

            Why, thank you, dear Vicar! I DO enjoy this sort of thing.

            Now, here is a little early Valentine, especially for you, with a kiss:

          • Bluessweet


            Thanks for the Lansbury…One of my all time favorite musical movie clips.

      • You’ve all forgotten Dr Jonathan’s ENO 1955 Little Italy update


    • Camille

      That was a fun blast from the past—Big Hair and VHS tapes and all! Had I known the Madonna Inn, which I’ve driven past a dozen times, was that much fun I’d have stopped over there.

      Thanks, as I had completely forgotten this segment of ARIA. All I recalled was the Tote Stadt and Ballo in Maschera and Tristan segments. Maybe I will go looking for that film, on YouTube or elsewhere.

      • luvtennis

        Cher Camille:

        I was just watching bits of “Absolute Beginners” on Youtube last week. All I could think was how much things have changed since the late 80s. Sade was great though!

  • ianw2

    Golly, seems to be a lot of talkin’ and yammerin’ about the singin’ in this review.

  • pasavant

    Too much bad conducting this season. The Russian guy who led the Otello was dreadful. Ion Marin( SP?) who conducted Rondine led a ragged first act followed by mere routine! The Met needs to get back to basics.

    • Belfagor

      I sense the Met does not have a comprehensive rolodex when it comes to conductors. So many years of Levine’s sharp elbows keeping many quality conductors at bay…………?

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Yes, for years they hired conductors who would be sure to make Levine look good (which of course he was on so many occasions). But now they don’t know the difference and this Rigoletto fetus conductor is not ready for prime time.

        • RosinaLeckermaul

          I’m going to wait to judge Mariotti when I see RIGOLETTO on 2/19. The TIMES praised his conducting, so there is disagreement. However, to play the old record again, the Met needs a new, young, dynamic Music Director (like Levine 30 years ago). A semi-invalid working some with the young artists program and conducting three operas (maybe) is not a music director.

          • Liz.S

            Hear, hear!

      • messa di voce

        “I sense the Met does not have a comprehensive rolodex when it comes to conductors.”

        Let’s see. Gelb’s added Muti, YNS, Rattle, Christie for starters Maazel is coming back. Bychkov (the Russian guy) gets major gigs everywhere. I don’t like all of them, but it’s a fairly impressive crew.

        • messa di voce

          Left out that Gelb also got Barenboim to come back.

  • phoenix

    Thanks for your review, especially the musical/vocal detail -- an inhouse opinion takes precedence over what I hear on the radio.

  • well I have a ticket to see this Feb 8th. I can’t wait personally.

  • jd

    to reiterate what i’ve said before, all three principals sounded terrific in the house at the Friday dress rehearsal including and esp Beczala. Can’t wait to go again to the Met for the Sat matinee on Feb 16th!