WORKS: Rigoletto (in English)
PERFORMER: John Rawnsley, Helen Field, Arthur Davies, John Tomlinson, Jean Rigby; ENO Orchestra & Chorus/Mark Elder
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 3030(2) Reissue (1983)
James Fenton’s English translation, clearly articulated by the entire cast, successfully conveys the atmosphere of Jonathan Miller’s Fifties New York mafia staging for English National Opera, for which it was written and on which this digitally remastered 1983 studio recording is based.
John Rawnsley’s Rigoletto, portrayed as the barman in a mafioso club, is a full-blooded, dramatic interpretation, sung in a firm and healthy baritone. Helen Field successfully conveys Desdemona’s vulnerability, and Arthur Davies sings extremely well as the ‘Duke’, her gangster father.
The basses John Tomlinson (Sparafucile) and Norman Bailey (Monterone) are both convincing, and Jean Rigby is a mellifluous Maddalena. The ENO chorus and orchestra are in good form, and Mark Elder, always at his best in Verdi, conducts magnificently. This is a specialised Rigoletto, and perhaps not for all tastes, but it is a fine memento of the ENO stage production. Charles Osborne