When in 1850 Guiseppe Verdi was commissioned to write a new opera for La Fenice, he decided to base it on Victor Hugo’s Le Roi s’amuse, notwithstanding that the French censors had deemed the play utterly unacceptable and banned it immediately after the premiere, in November 1832 at the Théâtre Français in Paris. Verdi’s intention to create an opera according to Hugo’s work met in Italy with an equally hostile response, with the Venetian censors referring to it as “immoral” and an “affront to royal majesty”. The parties ultimately arrived at a compromise: the setting would be changed, the French King would become the Duke of Mantua, yet the most essential aspects – the characters’ natures and the dramatic situations – would remain. The opera’s premiere, on 11 March 1851 in Venice, was a great triumph, particularly the Duke’s cynical aria “La donna è mobile” (Woman is fickle), which was sung in the streets the next morning. Verdi saw that he had composed a smash hit!
Rigoletto has been performed at the State Opera ever since the venue’s opening. The piece was first staged there by the New German Theatre company on 21 May 1888. Over the next few seasons, its performances were adorned by attractive foreign guests, with the most notable including the legendary tenor Enrico Caruso (4 and 10 May 1904). Our previous production of Rigoletto, directed by Karel Jernek (premiered on 14 January 1988 at the Smetana Theatre, with the final night held on 28 June 2017 at the Karlín Music Theatre), received some 483 performances.
State Opera Chorus and Orchestra
State Opera Ballet
Musical preparation: Vincenzo Milletarì
Stage director: Barbora Horáková Joly
Sets: Sophia Schneider, Barbora Horáková Joly
Costumes: Annemarie Bulla
Chorus master: Adolf Melichar
Lighting design: Jan Dörner
Videoart: Sergio Verde
Choreography: Jan Adam
Dramaturgy: Jitka Slavíková