‘Rigoletto’ returns to the Liceu with a dream cast

  • The opera takes the stage this Sunday with the English baritone Christopher Maltman, the acclaimed Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko and the French tenor of the moment, Benjamin Bernheim, who makes his debut as Duke of Mantua

  • The production signed by the director Monique Wagemakers, premiered at the coliseum in 2017, is led musically by maestro Daniele Callegari

The production of ‘Rigoletto’, by Giuseppe Verdi, stage directed by Monique Wagemakers with a modern and minimalist staging, with pure and cold lines and with a Rigoletto without the jester’s hump returns to the High School starting this Sunday. Verdi’s opera, whose plot is inspired by Victor Hugo’s ‘Le Roi s’amuse’, stands out in the season of the 175th anniversary of the Gran Teatre. This Sunday the first function will be held with the orchestra led by the Italian master Daniele Callegari and a fantastic ‘cast’. Includes the debut of the French Benjamin bernheimn, one of the most sought-after tenors, who makes his debut as Duke of Mantua in his first opera staged in Spain, a role in which he will alternate with other prominent tenors: Saimir Pirgu and Josep Bros. The English baritone Christopher Maltman He will play Rigoletto in the opening performance, a role that he has always been passionate about and that he has never performed before at the Liceu, alternating with the German in the rest of the functions Markus Brück. Another international star, the soprano Olga Peretyatko, who this September sang in Hamburg with Bernheim ‘Les contes d’Hoffmann’ assuming the four female characters of Olympia-Antonia-Giulietta-Stella, will take on the role of Gilda at the premiere. Another outstanding singer, Aigul Khismatullina, the functions 15 functions scheduled between November 28 and December 19 will be shared with her.

Abuse of power

In this production, premiered 20 years ago in Amsterdam and presented for the first time at the Liceu in 2017, everything focuses on the relationship between the characters, marked by fear, abuse of power and oppression. “The Duke abuses Rigoletto and his daughter Gilda, a 16-year-old girl who is looking for her identity.” Rigoletto denies her the truth to protect her and forbids her to be seen outside the house without realizing that this will cause Gilda to confront him and fall into the clutches of the duke. The purity of lines of Michael Levine’s scenography -a tilting quadrilateral that serves so much to represent the court or the jester’s house that gives the work its title- and the vivid colors of the Oscar-winning designer Sandy Powell’s wardrobe, inspired by the court Venetian church from the seventeenth century, frame this proposal that combines past and present.

For Maltman, who debuted as Rigoletto four years ago, this is the role of your dreams. “This is my sixth production. When I was studying music I would not stop rehearsing his arias.” Twenty years ago he wondered if he would ever make his debut in the demanding role. When it was offered to him at the Vienna State Opera, he did not hesitate. “There were only six days of rehearsal and I was terrified. Maybe it wasn’t the best Rigoletto but when an opportunity arises you have to go for it.” With the experience gained, he now enjoys each role despite the heartbreaking ending of the opera. “This drama is eternal because it shows how despite all the efforts of a father to keep his daughter safe, he does not succeed. For me it is difficult to interpret because I have children of that age and I understand the risks involved in the search for your identity”.

Step forward

Bernheim, “happy to make his debut at an institution like the Liceu”, admits that the role of the almighty duke is very different from the characters he usually plays, “much more human like Werther or Hoffmann”. This new character, who sings the famous aria ‘La donna è mobile’, represents another step in his ascending career. To get under his skin he has imagined it as if it were “the king of Instagram, someone untouchable”. And he adds: “He has all the answers, he can destroy whoever he wants.” It is the first time that he has had time to prepare technically and physically for the role that he has always considered “a fantastic vocal exercise because it helps me keep my voice fresh”.

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Peretyatko, with experience in Gilda, the role he has played the most – “I debuted in it with the baritone Joan Pons in Toledo” -, he has not had great doubts about his character. However, something is always learned because the reading of each director has something particular. “This version is very powerful, intense. In this Gilda is not the typical girl who loves her father tenderly but a teenager looking for her freedom, who confronts him and that is why he acts as he acts, “says the soprano, who has taken advantage of the pandemic break to become a mother.” The birth of Maya has given me a lot of security. Three weeks after giving birth, she was giving a concert. My voice has not suffered. What has changed are my priorities. Now they are different, I know what is important in my life. ”

‘Rigoletto’, by Giuseppe Verdi

Scenic direction: Monique Wagemakers

Musical direction: Daniele Callegari

Interpreters: Benjamin Benrheim, Christopher Maltman, Olga Peretyatko, Grygory Shkarupa, Rinat Shaham, Stephano Palatchi, entre otros

Place: Gran Teatre del Liceu

Dates: From November 28 to December 19


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