Verdi: Rigoletto

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Rigoletto
PERFORMER: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Renata Scotto, Carlo Bergonzi, Fiorenza Cossotto, Ivo Vincol; Chorus & Orchestra of La Scala, Milan/Rafael Kubelík
CATALOGUE NO: 437 704-2 ADD
Despite a cast and conductorwhose names promise an exciting performance, this Rigoletto is amost disappointing account of one of Verdi’s most popular operas.For one thing, the tenorish quality of Rigoletto’s baritone and the baritonal tenor of the Duke make these two disparate characters at times sound inappropriately similar to each other.

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Although Carlo Bergonzi’s Duke is stylishly sung, he makes oddly little of the words at important moments of the drama, and he is not helped by the stately tempi adopted by the conductor. Renata Scotto is better. Though not in her freshest voice, she brings Gilda’s innocence and charm appealingly to life.

The great German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is seriously miscast as Rigoletto. He sings the notes with great care and intelligence, but is never at all convincing. Not only is this jester’s personality completely bland, he sounds as though he were givinga lecture on the role rather than living it. Kubelík’s musicianly way with the score is attractive, though equally lacking in real Italianate fire. In short, this Rigoletto is like Hamlet without the Prince.

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Santini’s five-act Italian Don Carlos, dating from 1962 (his four-act recording of 1955 was reviewed in May), suffers from too many cuts, but is worth considering mainly for Ettore Bastianini’s mellifluous Rodrigo and Boris Christoff’s magisterial Philip. Antonietta Stella is a dull Elizabeth, but Fiorenza Cossotto makes the most of her chances as the jealous Eboli. Charles Osborne