At a ball at the ducal court of Mantua, the hunchbacked jester Rigoletto
mocks the courtiers cuckolded by the profligate Duke, stirring them
to plans of vengeance. Count Monterone appeals to the Duke for the
return of his dishonoured daughter, but is cruelly mocked by Rigoletto.
Enraged, Monterone calls down a father's curse on the terrified jester.
Outside his house, Rigoletto encounters Sparafucile, a professional
assassin, but has no need of his services. Rigoletto warns his daughter
Gilda to remain concealed in their home. She does not reveal to him that
she has fallen in love with a handsome young man she has encountered on her
way to church. The object of her affections is the Duke, who appears as
soon as Rigoletto has left, bribing Gilda's nurse to admit him and to speak
well of him to Gilda. He tells her he is a poor student. After he leaves,
the courtiers come to abduct Gilda, believing her to be Rigoletto's mistress.
They trick Rigoletto into assisting them, assuring him that it is the
Countess Ceprano they are abducting from the neighboring house. When he
realizes what has happened, he is distraught. He remembers the curse.
The courtiers describe their abduction of Gilda to the Duke. He is
delighted to discover that she has been brought to his palace and awaits
him in his bedroom. Rigoletto now enters, feigning indifference but
desperately seeking signs of the whereabouts of his daughter. When he
realizes what has happened he first curses, then pleads with the courtiers
for her return, but to no avail. Gilda appears en deshabille,
and Rigoletto swears vengeance on the Duke.
The Duke has been lured to a remote inn by Sparafucile's sister Maddalena.
Rigoletto has paid Sparafucile to kill the Duke and to deliver his body
in a sack so that he may himself throw it into the Mincio. Rigoletto brings
Gilda with him to spy on the inn, hoping to reinforce the notion that the
Duke is not a man of honour in affairs of the heart. Gilda is unimpressed.
Rigoletto sends her home to change into men's clothing
for their flight to Verona.
Infatuated with the Duke herself, Maddalena begs her brother to spare him
and to murder the jester instead. His sense of professional responsibility
offended, Sparafucile refuses, but does go so far as to agree that if anyone
else should happen to show up at the inn on this wild and stormy night, he
will murder them instead. Gilda, returning and hearing all this,
sees her chance to help the man she loves.
She boldly walks up to the door of the inn, knocks, is admitted and promptly
stabbed and stuffed into the sack for Rigoletto. Rigoletto is just about
to throw the sack in the river when he hears the Duke still singing in the
inn. Wildly he opens the sack to find his dying daughter, who with her
last breath assures him that she will pray for him with her mother in
heaven. Again, Rigoletto recalls Monterone's curse.
synopsis by Rick Bogart, email@example.com
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4 Feb 1996