Death, music and an ugly clown: Rigoletto by Opera Australia is a must-see

If there’s one thing you learn fast about any opera, is that a lot of them are sad and most of the time, people – if not everyone – die.

So it’s no surprise that the tale of Rigoletto, brought to life this winter season in Sydney by Opera Australia – on until 24 August – tells the tale as old as time, but this time, with all the spit ‘n’ polish, the likes only the Australian opera company can produce.

Though, stunning oscillating set and world-class costumery aside, it doesn’t detract from the fact that the loss for Rigoletto in the climax is the saddest of many deaths in reproduced operas of late; because it’s all his fault.

With director, Elijah Moshinsky behind the wheel of this season’s production, the production by Opera Australia is every bit as unique as the hit aria of the libretto, La Donna e Mobile, which you’d’ve heard before…

Dalibor Jenis takes-on the role of the hideous, clowny, much disliked Rigoletto, turning his renowned performances as the likes of Figaro into an award-winning on-stage display.

As he encapsulates the role of the overprotective father who pisses a few people off as he goes through life, little does he realise the fate that awaits him – disproportionately driven by his own hand, by today’s standards – with the death of his daughter.

The whole thing is really idyllically represented through the music of Verdi, who even at the time, knew he had a hit on his hands. First fury, then despair, then supplication: the music of this particular aria traces Rigoletto’s emotional spectrum as he learns of his daughter’s kidnapping. He’s angry, he’s sad, he’s powerless, he’s begging. Repetitive notes in the strings show us Rigoeltto’s distress.

“The strings give us a tumbling melodic line against Rigoletto’s powerful syncopated notes — his anger is burning. As the strings build tension repeating a single note, Rigoletto’s sings slowly, despairing as he realises the courtiers stand against him, gathering speed and power as he begs Marullo to take pity on him. With a dramatic top note, Rigoletto changes key from minor to major as he moves throughout his torment and makes an eloquent plea for his daughter’s release,” says Opera Australia.

Catch Rigoletto by Opera Australia on for the winter season at the Sydney Opera House until 24 August.