Chen-Ye Yuan (Rigoletto)
Duke of Hazard
Opera Theatre comes out swinging with Rigoletto
By Lew Prince [RiverFrontTimes, 25 May 05]
Rigoletto was condemned by the governor of Venice as a deplorable, repugnant, obscene triviality. We live in more enlightened times: Compared to Desperate Housewives, Giuseppe Verdi’s tale of seduction, vengeance, corruption and murder is a walk in the park.
When Verdi was hired to write a new work for the 1850-’51 season of Venice’s La Fenice theater, he decided to turn Victor Hugo’s play The King’s Amusements into an opera. It was nearly banned before it was written. The problem was, the play showed the king as a degenerate skirt chaser whose life revolved around bedding the wives, mistresses and daughters of everyone over whom his position gave him authority. The depiction of the deep corruption of power didn’t amuse the local authorities. By the time a compromise with the royal censors was worked out, Verdi had 40 days to write an opera.
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