Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Rigoletto. It was last on stage 14 December 2017—16 January 2018 as part of the Winter 2017/18 season.
Rigoletto, court jester to the libertine Duke of Mantua, is cursed by the father of one of the Duke’s victims for his irreverent laughter. When the Duke seduces Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda, it seems the curse is taking effect…
Read more… (Contains spoilers)
Giuseppe Verdi wrote in 1855 that Rigoletto, based on Victor Hugo’s play Le Roi s’amuse, was his ‘best opera’. He had had to overcome state censorship to stage it – the censors objected to its depiction of an immoral ruler – but he was vindicated by the premiere’s huge success in 1851. Rigoletto was performed 250 times in the next 10 years and has remained one of the most popular of all operas.
David McVicar’s production highlights the cruelty at the heart of the court of Mantua. Richly dressed courtiers engage in orgies and revelries to Verdi’s heady, spirited dances. The opera’s many musical highlights include the ebullient ‘La donna è mobile’, in which the Duke boasts of his disregard for women; Gilda’s exquisite, plangent duets with Rigoletto and the Duke; and the gorgeous Act III quartet that beautifully weaves the voices together as the story quickens to its shattering conclusion.
News and features
17 January 2018
Conductor Alexander Joel reveals the musical secrets of one of the repertory's best known works.
11 January 2018
One of opera's catchiest melodies, from Verdi's Rigoletto.
9 January 2018
Verdi's classic opera will be relayed live to cinemas around the world.
15 December 2017
A quick guide to this cinematic opera, packed with memorable tunes and propelled by a thriller-like plot.
15 December 2017
Audience responses and press reviews of The Royal Opera's performance of Verdi's potent tragedy.
8 December 2016
The composer made it his mission to subvert the rigid culture of opera, and his controversial works saw him frequently battle the authorities.
Rigoletto (pronounced [riɡoˈletto]) is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi. The Italian libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on the play Le roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo. Despite serious initial problems with the Austrian censors who had control over northern Italian theatres at the time, the opera had a triumphant premiere at La Fenice in Venice on 11 March 1851. It is considered by many to be the first of the operatic masterpieces of Verdi's middle-to-late career. Its tragic story revolves around the licentious Duke of Mantua, his hunch-backed court jester Rigoletto and Rigoletto's beautiful daughter Gilda. The opera's original title, La maledizione (The Curse), refers to the curse placed on both the Duke and Rigoletto by a courtier whose daughter had been seduced by the Duke with Rigoletto's encouragement. The curse comes to fruition when Gilda likewise falls in love with the Duke and eventually sacrifices her life to save him from the assassins hired by her father.