Roland Wood (Rigoletto) and Anna Christy (Gilda); ​Photo credit: Michael Cooper

Roland Wood (Rigoletto) and Anna Christy (Gilda); ​Photo credit: Michael Cooper

COC's 2018 Rigoletto Act I; ​Photo credit: Michael Cooper

COC brings sexual abuse issues of today into their production of Rigoletto!

Review by David Richards

​Toronto ON January 28th 2018

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American soprano Anna Christy, in the role of Gilda, daughter of Rigoletto, was a highlight of the opera. In her show-stopping aria at the end of Act II, she was dramatically convincing. In Act III, Christy carried off the death scene with heart wrenching anguish.

The libretto is not an easy one, with the myriad of minor characters in the first act. Borsa, Count and Countess Ceprano, Marullo, Monterone and Sparafucile all make appearances which can become quite confusing. The cast included fine performances from John Kriter, Lauren Eberwein, Bruno Roy, Neil Craighead, Robert Pomakov,Goderdzi Janelidze, Megan Latham, Simone Mcintosh, Samuel Chan and Carolyn Sproule.

This was the second of ten performances that will continue throughout February in tandem with Mozart’sThe Abduction from the Seraglio.

Was life imitating art this past week when we read about the debauchery in the Presidents’ Club of London England? At its annual fundraising dinner many of Britain’s political and corporate leaders were exposed for their misogynistic culture. Their expectations that the scantily clad hostesses would be ready to keep them happy in whatever way they wished was exposed by a journalist posing as one of these hostesses. The current Canadian Opera Company's production of Verdi’s Rigoletto by Christopher Alden at the Four Seasons Centre is set in a 19th century British men’s club reminiscent of the one in the news this week. 


​​Alden could have chosen almost any setting of wealth and power. Indeed, the Metropolitan Opera Company has recently mounted a production set in 1960's Las Vegas with characters mimicking members of the ‘Rat Pack’. The 19th century gaming room setting emphasizes that debauchery is everywhere, even in the most sophisticated circles. Set and Costume Designer Stephen Lord has spared nothing to make this men’s club an aristocratic hang-out.

Rigoletto’s story was adapted from a Victor Hugo play about a 16th century Duke of Mantua, who was known as a womanizer who took his sexual escapades too far when he targeted his own court jester’s daughter. The themes of sexual abuse and debasement of women that have dominated our news for the past months with the ‘Me too’ movement and the downfall of politicians and powerful entertainment figures, make the opera all the more relevant to our contemporary world.

The opera works, not just because we can see today’s moral and ethical issues played out therein, but because the music is so gloriously rich and the main characters have such stellar roles. Stephen Lord, who has conducted many excellent COC productions in recent years including Norma, A Masked Ball and Lucia di Lammermoor, led the fine COC Orchestra.

The Duke’s opening aria Questa o quella was sung magnificently by Stephen Costello, despite feeling ill and having to be replaced in the third Act by Joshua Guerrero who is slated to take over the role on February 11, 17 and 23. Guerrero stepped in with just a two-minute delay between Acts II and III demonstrating in the aria 'La donna e mobile' that he is ready for the starring role.

Roland Wood in the title role of Rigoletto, was magnificent in his complex character that begins as a court jester and ends with the tragedy of him victimizing himself and his daughter in a plot of revenge. Wood's rich and powerful baritone voice commanded the stage. Cortigiani, vil razza dannata was spell binding as Rigoletto confronts the court with the news that it was his daughter who was the victim of their scheme.