Rigoletto from Mantua
About the Operatic Film

Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto – recorded in high definition in the Renaissance splendor of Mantua, Italy, in the actual places and hours of the day specified in the libretto– was broadcast live around the world, or as close as time zones would allow, on September 4 and 5, 2010. Now, that critically acclaimed broadcast – hailed by President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano as a “great National event,” comes to Great Performances Friday, July 15 at 9:30 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).

With Rigoletto from Mantua, producer Andrea Andermann continues his successful series of “Live Films.” His productions of both “Tosca” by Puccini and “La Traviata” were Great Performances landmarks in 1992 and 2000 respectively. Those two innovative and spectacular productions received much public and critical success, confirmed by international television awards including seven Primetime Emmy’s and the UK BAFTA’s.

Directed by Marco Bellocchio, Rigoletto from Mantua stars Plàcido Domingo in the baritone title role of Rigoletto; Julia Novikova as his innocent daughter Gilda; Vittorio Grigolo as the womanizing Duke; and Ruggero Raimondi as the assassin Sparafucile.

The production marks Domingo’s third major project for Great Performances this season. (The career retrospective, Plácido Domingo: My Favorite Roles and LA Opera’s Il Postino will each be broadcast this fall.)

Academy Award-winning Vittorio Storaro shot the vivid high definition cinematography. The RAI National Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Zubin Mehta. The opera is one of the maestro’s favorite operas. “It is not only Verdi at the peak of his creativity but also a spectacular theatrical ‘thriller,’” says Mehta.

Critics around the world raved about the results. The Sunday Times of London proclaimed, “What a triumph for the producer and the technical team.” The BBC marveled, “It was just fantastic the way they made it all work.” Il Tempo dubbed it “Colossal.” Le Libre Belgique enthused, “The cast is fabulous and images resound from a tension both visible and emotional.”

Tenor Domingo has a special relationship to “Rigoletto.” It was the first opera he ever heard; the character of Borsa was his first operatic role; he sang the Duke many times; and he has conducted the work on numerous occasions. Domingo had qualms about taking on the titular baritone role. “When Andrea Andermann invited me to interpret the part of Rigoletto, I replied that there were so many good baritones in the world who could sing it. But Andrea said that he wasn’t looking for a baritone, but rather for the Rigoletto [that I] could bring to life.”

Now, he gives voice and soul to Rigoletto, a court jester, who after publicly ridiculing a nobleman, Count Ceprano, is tragically punished by the courtiers for his unforgivable insolence.

Gilda, the attractive, sheltered daughter of Rigoletto, pays the price with her life for the errors of her father and the mistaken love for the cynical Duke of Mantua, a powerful and handsome man, intoxicated and driven by the taste of female conquest. Gilda becomes bewitched by the Duke in disguise believing that he is a young student, and subsequently falls in love with him, but in reality, nothing is what it appears to be and the fate of the characters entwine dangerously until the tragic end.

Based on how it was conceived and developed, Rigoletto from Mantua is one of the most complex audio-visual operations ever attempted. Through an advanced and sophisticated technological system, the locations in different points of the city of Mantua were seamlessly linked together. Maestro Mehta performed the music of Verdi from the Teatro Scientifico Bibiena.

The 16th century comes to life in the accomplished photography of Vittorio Storaro, who performed similar duty for the first two live operas. Bellocchio achieved the difficult task of leading the artists in the interpretation of the characters, all the while dealing with the complex task of directing a Live Film.

The locations chosen included: the sumptuous rooms of Palazzo Te, the famous villa of parties, receptions and idleness of the Duke of Mantua, built between 1525 and 1535 by the architect and painter Giulio Romano at the will of Federico II Gonzaga; Palazzo Ducale, the main residence of the Gonzaga rulers, Marquis and ultimately the dukes of the city of Mantua, also The Fortress of Sparafucile, known as the Rock of Rigoletto, a former military garrison Gonzaga located at the entrance to the city of Mantua.

For Great Performances, John Walker is producer; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; and David Horn is executive producer.

Major funding for the Great Performances telecast is provided by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, and the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation.

  • mary e agee

    I have been in love with Placido Domingo since I saw him in an interview 50 years ago. He was extremely handsome, personable, and a very good interview. I recall thinking, “If I looked like him and could sing like him, I’d stand in front of the mirror and sing all day…”

  • Aldo F. della Coletta

    What can I say……is there anything that can be said?
    What a splendor!
    Giuseppe Verdi’s Masterpiece of the Masterpieces.

  • Barbara Card

    Bravo! What an amazingly spectacular production of this beloved opera!

  • Roger Conner

    Wow, spectacular production. I kept wishing for a bigger screen TV, for a better sound system! Stunning to look at and to listen to. Thank you PBS for providing more proof of why the world still needs you.

  • Felice Vigil

    I have to say Placido Domingo’s performance in Rigoletto was the BEST of all his performances I’ve seen live or recorded. It was spectacular! He brought into play a culmination of a life time’s experience which was evident in his performance! BRAVO! Thank you PBS for providing us with such a wonderful experience!

  • Trudie Seybold

    The production of Rigoletto of Mantua was just fabulous. I have known Placido for over 50 years and he was incredible as a baritone. Loved it so much. Will you please repeat this performance another time.

  • frank d. mayer

    this performance was GREAT!

    thank you.


  • Adrienne Todd

    Superbly done. Rigoletto was the first opera I attended and is my favorite. What a thrill it was to see and hear Placido Domingo give such tender and tortured emotion to his Rigoletto. BRAVO. I loved Placido as Otello, but even more as Rigoletto. Julia Novikova’s Caro Nome left me breathless. Thank you PBS. It was truly was a Great Performance.

  • Marie Traina

    What a magnificent production! Thank you, PBS for making it possible for me to see and hear such a great performance.


    Could you check with RAI to when this film might be available for purchase?
    Thank you,

    Kay Kraeft

  • Ann Moore

    Unfortunately, in our area, the first part of the production played twice, so the computer cut it off only a short way into the second act. Very frustrating. I think I have found a way to order the DVD online. I hope it will be a good DVD, because I’m doing research on the artists who flourished in Mantua and the production showed some excellent views of their work.

  • antfreire

    What would have happened if Corelli, De Monaco, Bergonzi, Goacomini, and all the other heavy tenors would have switched to baritone when they could no longer sing as tenors? I am sure the critics would not have allowed that. So Why Domingo? Bacause Domingo was always protected by the media and critics. he was the only Met tenor that could break notes and sing under pitch and still get good reviews. Why? I don’t know. Does any one?

  • Gary Hinkle

    What a Amazing Performance of one of
    Verdi”s classic opera”s…

  • Harvey Sparks

    A magnificent conception and execution. Congratulations to the producer and director, in addition to the performers. I also hope the DVD is made available soon.

    In response to antreire, are you saying that Corelli and Bergonzi couldn’t have done anything they wanted? Humbug. But Domingo is special because he is a complete musician, and because his gifts have lasted so long.

  • Kyle

    I don’t know much about Rigoletto; as a matter of fact, almost nothing, aside from the name. I do know some things about music, however, and also about PBS — they have tended over many years to display performances of excellent quality and perhaps educate me about things. I appreciate that.

  • kyle

    screen problems — the screen instructs to “submit comment” — I’ve been through these infinite loops before, and as a result will have to close this window down. GOODNIGHT.

  • Mary

    This was absolutely phenomenal. Stunning setting, music, actor/singers – a stellar triumph. When will it be available in DVD format? I will be one of the first purchasers, as I’d love to share it with my 90 year old father, who wasn’t able to record it, unfortunately.

  • harriet pepper

    Do you sell the DVD of Placido Domingo in “Rigoletto”, the 2010 version? If so, how can I obtain it? If it came in a series form, I would be interested in purchasing the set.
    Thank you.

  • Bernard Richards

    I, like so many people, would dearly like to purchase this magnificent production on dvd or blueray. Is this likely to happen soon?

  • carol miller

    Have you really found a way to order a DVD of this performance? If so, please let me know.

  • david ernst

    Hi Carol,

    Currently there is no DVD of Rigoletto from Mantua, but is currently under discussion by our production partners for release at a later date. We’ll post info here on the website if we hear further on a DVD release of this program.

    Thank you for your question. We’re glad you enjoyed the program and hope you consider watching Il Postino from LA Opera next Friday, Nov 25th at 9 p.m.

  • Virginia

    My husband and I also wish to purchase a DVD of this production. Why hasn’t the producer released one already? The initial broadcast was in September 2010. Perhaps PBS could persuade the producer that there’s a market for the DVD. How about it, PBS?

  • Tim

    Please, please let us have a DVD of this magnificent “Rigoletto”. To have gone to all that work to make it work so well “live”, it seems madness not to issue it to the commercial market. It deserves permanence and my Sky+ box needs the space back! Keep nagging everyone!

  • Danny

    What a crime that this spectacular, magnificent production has not yet been released on DVD! What is taking so long?

  • Declan McGinn

    Dear David,

    I would concur with all of your other requests to get this on DVD, fed up trawling through the shops every other month!


  • Declan

    Dear Adrienne,

    I thought it was just me, but, at last I see that someone else noticed the perfection of Julia Novikova’s Caro Nome. Aside from her tones which are so soft and rounded, she was perfectly focused throughout and should get an Oscar too for her performance, et al.

    This too, was the first opera I had ever seen and I only came across it by chance that night via RAI Uno and BBC4 while switching channels…….thankfully it can be seen again (and again) on You Tube.


  • Sandee Baires

    Hey… Thanks so much for the quick response…. can see the Set picture as slider background” and inspite of selecting that option the actual pic doestn show as background!!!???

  • Joan Simons

    AMAZING!!!! When will it be available on DVD? I would really love to have a copy to view over and over. It was that great.

  • Padraig Connolly

    May I add my voice to the request for the issue of this on HD DVD. The samples I have seen on youtube are truly spectacular, and Domingo has surpassed himself once again. What next will this man do?

  • Arlene Golub

    Would love to purchase a dvd on this wonderful performance. When? Why not now?

  • Ken

    Please start selling this on blu ray

  • Kevin Orlando

    Hi PBS friends, please:

    1. Edit correctly the “Rigoletto from Mantua” film, adding scenes and deleting the wrong ones.
    2. Make a worth product, worth to see.
    3. Sell it on Blu Ray with international subtitles, and sure, this will gonna be an Video Success


  • Martin B.

    Yes, with spanish and english subtitles. I’m totally agree with Kevin Orlando, edit it and publish it soon, please.

  • David Conley

    This amazing performance just has to be made available on DVD. My wife erased my DVR! I watched it a lot, but not enough. it is superb from any angle, but the performances, settings and technogical marvel of singers here, orchestra there, boggle the mind. Please, for an old guy (who has not forever to wait).

  • Nancy Moore

    Please get this on DVD!! Soon! It was magnificent!

  • Julián Huenuleufu

    I only want to mention two things:
    Julia Novikova is superb singing and acting Caro Nome.
    I have also looked for the DVD and stayed surprised that it is not available.
    I strongly recommend the issue. I think it would be commercially successful. Thank you.

  • kay johnson

    I had hoped this would have been available on a DVD, do you know if it will ever be released.
    Kay Johnson
    Script Supervior
    BBC TV Classical Music

  • Claudiu

    2013 and still the DVD was not published….

  • http://ge.tt/5xwkGrY/v/0 Jestine Centrone

    Maintain up the fantastic function , I read couple of blog posts on this website and I believe that your site is real interesting and has bands of great information .

  • Lisa

    My DVR wiped out my recording of Rigoletto from Mantua. I really want to buy a DVD. Please, please, make this available.

  • agnes

    PLease advise how muchthis dvd will cost and how to get it. The performance was super. Thanksfor bringing it

  • Rosie

    Would love to have the DVD. PLEASE, publish one.

  • Trudy

    Dear sirs
    Just like the other readers/writers I would like to buy the DVD of Verdi’s Rigoletto at Mantua. Can you please inform me how and where to buy this DVD? I am real old (80) and I would like this DVD very much. Please help me.

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