Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) makes his Met debut with a new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto. The new staging moves the opera’s tragic events from a decadent 16th-century Italian court to the glitzy, depraved setting of the Las Vegas strip circa 1960, and airs on Great Performances at the Met Friday, May 17 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). In New York, THIRTEEN will broadcast the opera at the same time with an encore showing Sunday, May 19 at 12:30 p.m.
Watch a preview:
Polish tenor Piotr Beczala sings the Duke, an amoral lounge singer whose entourage includes the world-weary comedian Rigoletto, sung by Serbian baritone Željko Lučić. German soprano Diana Damrau sings the role of the innocent Gilda, Rigoletto’s daughter and the victim of the predatory Duke. Slovakian bass Štefan Kocán sings the assassin-for-hire Sparafucile and Belarusian mezzo-soprano Oksana Volkova makes her Met debut as his seductive sister, Maddalena. Italian conductor Michele Mariotti conducts his first company performances of the Verdi masterwork, which features one of the most famous arias in all of opera, “La donna è mobile.”
Soprano Renee Fleming hosts the transmission and conducts backstage interviews with the stars.
“Rigoletto hits the jackpot,” declared Associated Press when the production debuted in January, while Bloomberg News reported, “Mayer captures both the emotional depth and surface glitter in an audacious staging…. The audience whooped approval at the end.” The Wall Street Journal noted that “(t)he strong cast of principals carries out the concept with gusto.”
Rigoletto was originally seen live in movie theaters on February 16 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 1900 movie theaters and performing arts centers in 64 countries around the world.
Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its 40 year history on public television, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. Now in its fifth decade, the series has been the home to the greatest artists in the areas of drama, dance, musical theater, classical and popular music, providing many with their very first television exposure.
Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. This Great Performances presentation is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, Vivian Milstein, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, and public television viewers.
For the Met, Matthew Diamond directs the telecast. Jay David Saks is Music Producer, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.