BWW Review: SAN DIEGO OPERA'S PRODUCTION OF RIGOLETTO at The San Diego Civic Center
The San Diego Opera's opening-night production of Verdi's Rigoletto featured the powerful voice and convincing acting of baritone Stephen Powell in a title role he has sung often. In contrast, it was soprano Alisa Jordheim's debut as Rigoletto's naive ill-fated daughter Gilda. Her fresh innocent appeal and Powell's veteran portrayal of cynical darkness were perfect for their respective roles. Jordheim has an agile voice with a deliciously silky tone, and commendable projection. She delivered coloratura passages of perfect clarity, hit the role's highest note with startling volume and purity, and held it. This won't be her last
production of Rigoletto, nor the last major role in her promising career. Tenor Scott Quinn was the more than reprehensible duke who takes advantage of Gilda. The pair's youthful voices and appearance make them unusually well suited for Verdi's marvelous music and Francesco Maria Piave's tragedy-soaked libretto.
San Diego Opera's General Director David Bennett announced between the first and
second acts that Quinn had agreed to soldier on despite a cold that left him at less than his best. Though at times his sound was dulled a bit by congestion, he mustered vocal strength for the high notes everyone waits for in signature arias, and his pleasing tone blended well in duets with Jordheim. Quinn's acting seemed
unaffected by the cold. He charmed with debonair ease, at times making his character, one of the most casually cruel villains in the opera repertoire, seem almost a forgivable scamp. A shattering final peak of ironic tragedy came as he sang a lighthearted offstage reprise of the duke's familiar La donna è mobile while Rigoletto was alone on the stage after discovering Gilda rather than the duke has been murdered by the assassin he had hired.
Bass-baritone Kyle Albertson sang with authority and sinister intensity as the professional assassin Sparafucile. The entire supporting cast sang and acted well and added to the production's appeal, as did Director Michael Cavanagh's success in evoking partial empathy for even the most wicked of the story's characters. But three gratuitous stabbing deaths of harmless women seemed to conflict with the rest of the production's tone, and the overdone reactions of extras in a few scenes marred what was otherwise believably realistic.
Anne-Catherine Simard-Deraspe's lighting, from hues of royal splendor to stormy darkness and lightning, reinforced the mood of crucial scenes, and Robert Dahlstrom's set designs, while less elaborate than that of many productions, were effective. Chorus Master Bruce Stasyna's singers are a consistent reason to attend San Diego Opera productions, as are the pit musicians from the San Diego Symphony, this time under the able baton of conductor Steven White.
This production of Rigoletto will satisfy both experienced and new opera goers. The final performance is February 10.
For full season performance schedules and ticket information visit the San Diego Opera website.
Photos compliments of San Diego Opera.