OPERA IN A MINUTE
Rigoletto is desperate to hide his daughter, Gilda, from his lecherous employer, the Duke. However she has secretly fallen in love with the man (who has disguised himself as a student). After Gilda has been violated in the Duke’s court, Rigoletto vows revenge, but his daughter overhears his plans and sacrifices herself to save her lover, leaving her father brokenhearted.
ACT IThe Duke arrives at a party in his palace and boasts to his guests of his conquests with women, telling them that he has just seen a beautiful young woman in a nearby church, but that her identity is unknown to him. Count Monterone then enters and publicly accuses the Duke of ruining his daughter. Monterone is arrested and is mocked by Rigoletto, the Duke’s jester, as he is led away. Monterone responds by laying a curse on Rigoletto. Later, following a brief meeting with the assassin Sparafucile who offers to rid Rigoletto of any enemies he might have, Rigoletto returns to his home where he lives with his beautiful daughter, Gilda. The Duke has since learned that the girl he saw at the church lives in this house and he enters the courtyard. He waits for Rigoletto to leave, and proceeds to woo the innocent Gilda, telling her that he is a poor student. Meanwhile some of the Duke’s courtiers enter, wishing to avenge the cruel taunts of the hated jester and plot to punish Rigoletto. They believe Gilda is Rigoletto’s mistress and trick him into helping them kidnap her. Only when they are taking her away does Rigoletto realize he’s been fooled. Rigoletto remembers Monterone’s curse.
ACT IIThe courtiers return to the palace with Gilda. The Duke is relieved to learn she has not disappeared, and takes her to his private chambers. Rigoletto arrives and is refused entry to the chamber by the Duke’s courtiers. He reveals to all assembled that Gilda is his daughter and, soon after, she rushes out and into the arms of her father. Gilda tells Rigoletto how the Duke stole her heart by playing the role of a humble student, and although he has ruinously deceived her, she still loves him. Rigoletto swears vengeance on the Duke.ACT IIIMaddalena, Sparafucile’s sister, has lured the Duke to an inn. Rigoletto has hired Sparafucile to carry out the offer proposed earlier and pays him. He instructs Sparafucile to deliver the Duke’s corpse to him by midnight. Maddalena has become fond of the Duke and convinces Sparafucile to spare his life and take the life of the next person to enter the inn. Gilda, overhearing their conversation, decides to sacrifice herself out of love for the Duke; she enters and is stabbed. Rigoletto returns to claim his corpse, and upon hearing the Duke in the distance, opens the sack to discover the body of Gilda. As Gilda dies asking for forgiveness, Monterone’s curse is fulfilled.
A scene from Rigoletto (COC, 2011), Photo: Michael Cooper.
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