The Metropolitan Opera – Bartlett Sher’s production of Verdi’s Rigoletto – Quinn Kelsey, Stephen Costello, Erin Morley, Yulia Matochkina, and Ante Jerkunica; conducted by Karen Kamensek

Rigoletto – Opera in three Acts to a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave after Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse [sung in Italian with Met Titles in English, German, Spanish and Italian]

Rigoletto – Quinn Kelsey
Duke of Mantua – Stephen Costello
Gilda – Erin Morley
Maddelena – Yulia Matochkina
Sparafucile – Ante Jerkunica
Monterone – Craig Colclough
Giovanna – Eve Gigliotti
Marullo – Jeongcheol Cha
Borsa – Scott Scully
Count Ceprano – Christopher Job
Countess Ceprano – Sylvia D’Eramo

The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
The Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera
Karen Kamensek

Bartlett Sher – Production
Michael Yeargen – Set Designer
Catherine Zuber – Costume Designer
Donald Holder – Lighting Designer

Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 8 June, 2022
Venue: Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York City

Bartlett Sher’s opulent staging of Rigoletto, which premiered at the Met last New Year’s Eve is back with a mostly new set of principals. The single holdover is Quinn Kelsey, whose exceptionally detailed portrayal of the court jester, who helps his master, the Duke of Mantua, in his unscrupulous amorous adventures, only to have his beloved daughter, Gilda, abducted and seduced by him, has become even more poignant. While Quinn more than adequately displays all the hunchback’s vindictiveness and cynicism, it is in his scenes with Gilda, where he exposes his true nature as a loving, devoted, overprotective father, that his acting is most convincing, and that his powerful and beautiful baritone, with its consistently smooth legato, is most eloquent. 

The tragedy in Verdi’s great melodrama is intensified by Erin Morley. Her Gilda is a vocal and dramatic wonder. ‘Caro nome’, the Act One aria in which she rejoices in her new-found love, is dispatched with impeccable coloratura and stunning high notes, revealing a charming tenderness and youthful vulnerability. Her three duets with Quinn’s Rigoletto are all tremendously moving, especially ‘V’ho ingannato’, at the end of the opera when she lies dying in his arms and confesses that she deceived him.

In contrast to Quinn and Morley’s multifaceted depictions, Stephen Costello’s hollow and unassuming characterization of the libertine Duke is less than totally captivating. He looks attractive and brandishes his accurate and accomplished tenor with ease, but his showpiece arias, ‘Questa o quella’ and ‘La donna è mobile’ come off as surprisingly tame. His best singing is in ‘È il sol dell’anima’, the passionate second-Act duet in which, in the guise of a penniless student, he introduces himself to Gilda.

As the assassin Sparafucile, hired by Rigoletto to kill the Duke, Ante Jerkunica is particularly well-cast. Tall and lanky, with a dark and commanding bass, he is an unmistakably menacing presence. As his sister Maddalena, who helps him lure his victims, Yulia Matochkina, with her robust and sensuous mezzo makes an equally strong impression.

Craig Colclough’s performance as Monterone, the elderly nobleman whose daughter has been seduced by the Duke and who puts a father’s curse on Rigoletto, is the most notable. With his dusky-toned baritone, he exhibits both frailty and vengefulness.Karen Kamensek elicits vigorous and strongly dramatic playing, allowing all the atmosphere and color in Verdi’s glorious score to unfold. And the men of the Metropolitan Chorus are splendid, particularly in Act Two as they narrate the story of Gilda’s abduction.

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