Verdi: Rigoletto

LABELS: Arthaus
WORKS: Rigoletto
PERFORMER: Leo Nucci, Elena Mosuc, Piotr Beczala, László Polgár; Zurich Opera house chorus and orchestra/Nello Santi; dir. gilbert Deflo (Zurich, 2006)
This recording of a performance from Zurich doe raise the question of how distinguished an account should be before it is accorded that immortality of appearing on DVD or CD. What we see here is a decent performance, which one might be delighted to see if one dropped into an opera house; but whether one would feel it was worth seeing again, or being given the status of the recording of Rigoletto in one’s collection, is a different matter. The production is off: when the curtain rises we see Renaissance Mantua at play, in what seems to be a traditional account. But when Monterone storms in and pronounces his curse on Rigoletto, he is dressed in early 20th century formal wear, and from then on so is everyone else I can’t think what that might signify. Sparafucile is very well sung by the veteran Laszlo Polgar. The rest of the cast don’t thrive so well under close-up as he does. Elena Mosuc, though she sings beautifully, is a decidedly mature Gilda. Leo Nucci is a very experienced Rigoletto but by now a bit rusty. The lack of virtually any scenery means that there is also very little atmosphere. Covent Garden’s production by David McVicar (on BBC Opus Arte) has much more of both, and is better sung and excellently conducted by Edward Downes.