Rigoletto in Zürich

This is another of those Arthaus Blu-ray disks that’s sold at a silly cheap price as a carrier for two hours of trailers from the Arthaus catalogue.  That said, it’s very high quality indeed.  GIlbert Deflo’s production is, in the end, quite conventional though with careful and effective Personenregie.  He does trick us a bit at the start.  The scene opens with what is, apparently, a rather louche 16th century court entertainment/orgy.  There are bare breasted women and dancers of both sexes dressed as Satanic imps.  Everyone is in period costume including Rigoletto with jester hat, bells etc.  The scene is, perhaps, what we expect.  The “ladies” are very receptive to the duke’s advances.  The men are resentful but not actively so.  Then in comes Monterone in mid 19th century dress to denounce the proceedings and we, perhaps slowly, realise that this is a costume party.  From there on there’s nothing very tricksy.  The story gets told effectively and straightforwardly.  We have been pulled, effortlessly, from the time of the libretto to the time of first performance and the parallels are drawn.

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