Rigoletto – Vladimir Stoyanov
Gilda – Mélissa Petit
The Duke of Mantua – Stephen Costello
Sparafucile – Miklós Sebestyén
Maddalena / Giovanna – Katrin Wundsam
Director – Philipp Stölzl
Set designers – Heike Vollmer
Costume Designer – Kathi Maurer
Lighting Designer – Georg Veit
Conductor – Enrique Mazzola
The stage director and designer Philipp Stölzl, known for his successful productions at Salzburg Festival as well as music videos for the German band Rammstein, highlights the striking contrasts between spectacle and intimate chamber drama in his production of Verdi’s opera. “Breathtaking, tight and thrilling arrangement, extremely beautiful. Philipp Stölzl delivers a superlative Rigoletto to Bregenz lake stage.” (Frankfurter Rundschau Online) “The performance of the three main characters has been outstanding.” (Der Standard Online) “Rigoletto becomes a Hollywood spectacle on Lake Constance.” (Handelsblatt) “Nothing but a sensation.”
As a jester at the Duke of Mantua’s court, I support my employer in his female conquests. He likes to host exuberant parties where he keeps an eye out for the ladies. As the latest object of his desire, he has chosen Countess Ceprano, of whom he tells his courtier Borsa. I make several suggestions to the Duke about different ways in which we could keep her husband at bay. Making sure that I do not notice anything, the courtier Marullo tells his colleagues that I have a lover, which nobody can imagine. As a revenge for my jokes, they decide to kidnap my alleged lover. This highly charged atmosphere is interrupted when Count Monterone bursts in, demanding revenge because the Duke has seduced his daughter. I ridicule him, for which he curses both the Duke and me. After the celebration has ended, a dark figure approaches me. A man named Sparafucile offers me his services as a contract killer. I am interested in his conditions, but currently have no need for him. Back at home, my daughter Gilda asks me probing questions about her roots. I tell her about her mother’s death, but refuse to say anything about myself. I am very afraid that somebody might harm her, allowing her to escape supervision by her governess Giovanna only in order to go to church. No sooner have I left her, than the Duke secretly sneaks up to her, having followed her on her way back from church. He courts her, pretending to be a poor student. Once she is alone again, Gilda begins to gush over him.
I return and encounter Borsa and Marullo. Ceprano is also there, but I do not notice him. The two courtiers ask me to help them kidnap Ceprano’s wife. They ask me to hold the ladder and wear a mask, as they do. I am in. Suddenly, I hear my daughter’s screams for help. When I take off the mask, I realise that I have helped them kidnap my own daughter. So the curse is already haunting me.
The Duke did not find my daughter at home and complains that she has been stolen away from him. His joy is all the greater when his courtiers hand over the abducted Gilda to him. In my desperate search for her, I have to endure the courtier’s jeers. Of course, they do not admit what they have done. However, they do seem very surprised when I tell them that my daughter has disappeared. Suddenly, she approaches me and confesses that the Duke has seduced her. I swear to avenge her dishonor, especially after once again hearing Monterone’s voice, lamenting that the Duke continues to live happily despite his curse.
I want to show my daughter how the Duke usually behaves towards women and take her to Sparafucile’s tavern. There, the Duke orders both Sparafucile’s sister and drink. He then goes on to sing about the fickleness of women, without which, however, he would not be happy. I let Gilda watch as the Duke courts Sparafucile’s sister Maddalena. Gilda cannot believe that the Duke talks to Maddalena the same way he speaks to her.
I send Gilda away so that she can set off to Verona dressed as a man and promise to follow the next day. I then contract Sparafucile to murder the Duke. He promises to hand me the dead man in a sack at midnight. As a thunderstorm approaches, I leave the scene.
Meanwhile, the Duke retires to one of the upper rooms to sleep. Maddalena persuades her brother not to kill the Duke, but rather the next man to appear at the tavern. Gilda has returned in men’s clothes and has overheard the conversation. She knocks and is killed by Sparafucile.
At midnight, I receive the bag with the body. Just as I am about to throw it into the water, I hear the Duke’s voice. I become suspicious and anxious and open the sack, where I discover my own daughter. She bids me farewell and dies. The curse has hit me.