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Watch: Why Verdi's opera Rigoletto is like Star Wars

Conductor Alexander Joel reveals the musical secrets of one of the repertory's best known works.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

17 January 2018 at 5.10pm | 2 Comments

'What's so interesting about Rigoletto is that it's the first time that Verdi uses instruments that he associates with the personalities in the opera', says conductor Alexander Joel of one of the repertory's best known works. 'It's a bit like watching Star Wars: you have certain motifs you associate with the bad guys and then this motif you associate with the Jedi.'

Joel's recent performance of Rigoletto was relayed live to cinemas around the world, and in this film – originally screened during the interval – he explores the musical secrets of Verdi's score.

'I remember when I first saw the opera when I was a teenager. I'll never forget this scene when Rigoletto comes in and his daughter has been abducted. You have this incredible sadness in [his] motif which sounds like something happy but it's in a minor key so it's very tragic... It always gets me every time. That's the genius of Verdi: he's very clear in his language. People get it right away and it affects you physically'.

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The next production to be broadcast as part of the ROH Live Cinema Season 2017/18 is The Royal Opera's Tosca, which will be shown on 7 February 2018. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

17 January 2018 at 5.10pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged Alexander Joel, analysis, by David McVicar, cinema, idée fixe, leitmotif, Music, Production, Rigoletto, score, Star Wars, verdi

This article has 2 comments

  1. MF Anders responded on 17 January 2018 at 6:13pm Reply

    What a cheap marketing ploy to compare the heilige Kunst that is opera to the popular entertainment of moving pictures just to 'hook' in pop-culture readers! Pandering to the lowest common denominator just to increase Internet hits--shame on you!

    • paulymcc responded on 19 January 2018 at 4:39pm

      Surely it is we Star Wars fans who should be offended by the comparison? The Star Wars corpus brilliantly deconstructs and reassembles the profound battle between light and darkness that has preoccupied humanity since the dawn of time, while Verdi resorted to soap-opera melodrama, tabloid-style references to royalty and deliberate flirtations with the state censors to bring his organ-grinder-friendly tunes to the public attention.

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