Second Thoughts

Second Thoughts
By Henry C. Mayer

All Star Cast Brings Verdi Classic to Louisville

Another Triumph in the Making for Thomson Smillie and Kentucky Opera

If you relish big league performances, mark down one of these dates in your book: May 21 or May 24; the time, 8 p.m,

Kentucky Opera is pulling out the stops in presenting Verdi's, perennial favorite, "Rigoletto." Premiered in Venice on March 11, 1851, this year's performances will be the sixth time in our local company's history we have a chance to delight in its beautiful music, follow a tale of intrigue and passion with an unlikely conclusion and thrill to some of the best acting/singing ever heard in these parts.

The story is based on a play about the pleasure-looking Francis I of France (16th century) by the French immortal who also wrote "L'Miserable," Victor Hugo. Verdi and his writer, Francisco Piave, transposed the locale to Mantua in Italy only to run afoul of the censor who took a dim view of presenting the nobility in such an unfavorable setting. In this version, the Duke of Mantua is the womanizer par excellence; Rigoletto is his jester who has alienated his patron's courtiers by making cruel jests at their expense. Only one thing is sacred to the jester, his daughter Gilda; he has striven to keep her out of the Duke's leering eyes.

Rigoletto soon finds that the wily Duke has already discovered Gilda and seduced her. Not knowing she is his daughter but thinking she is his mistress, the courtiers curry the Duke's favor by abducting her and by a ruse they get Rigoletto to help them. One courtier has already cursed the jester so one can imagine his dismay and wrath when he finds out everything. Though he seeks revenge on the Duke, the jester's discomfiture is intensified first when he discovers his daughter is in love with the Duke and then she frustrates his revenge plans.

This brief outline can give you some idea of the dramatic and vocal demands of the title role.You will thrill at how Indiana-born Timothy Noble is more than up to these requirements. Noble has drawn raves in this country and in several European opera houses for an amazing number of roles. Our own Marilyn Mims, also now with the Metropolitan, will enhance the role of Gilda while the growing experience of Peter Riberi will add delight in his portrayal of the Duke. Another Kentuckian, Howard Ray, will make the sinister Sparafucile come alive while Donn Everette's fans will have another chance to applaud his talents.

Nuf said? See you there! 1