HGO Continues The Season With RIGOLETTO, Opens 4/19

Houston Grand Opera (HGO) continues its 54 th season with Verdi's hauntingand tragic tale Rigoletto.Rigoletto, which was last performed at HGO in 2001, returns to the Wortham Theater Centerwith a powerful new staging of Michael Yeargan's classic production that was inspired by Italianpainter Giorgio di Chirico.

HGO Studio alumnus Scott Hendricks - the Texas-native sang the roleof Silvio in HGO's Pagliacci last year-will make his role debut as the tormented jester Rigoletto.Russian soprano and HGO Studio alumna Albina Shagimuratova (Queen of the Night in HGO's TheMagic Flute, 2008)-fresh from her highly acclaimed performances of the Queen of the Night at theSalzburg Festival, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Los Angeles Opera-will sing the role of Rigoletto's overly protected daughter Gilda.

Tenor Eric Cutler (Tamino in HGO's The Magic Flute, 2008), returns to HGO in his role debut as the lecherous Duke of Mantua and bass Andrea Silvestrelli(Osmin in HGO's Abduction from the Seraglio, 2008) will perform his much acclaimed Sparafucile,the assassin. HGO Studio artist Maria Markina (Lola in HGO's Cavalleria Rusticana, 2008) sings therole of the assassin's daughter Maddalena and bass-baritone Bradley Garvin sings Count Monterone,whose curse sets the whole opera in motion.HGO Music Director Patrick Summers conducts all performances with feature the HGOOrchestra and Chorus (Richard Bado, HGO Chorus Master). Australian Lindy Hume directs. Setswere created by internationally acclaimed designer Michael Yeargan. Costumes were designed byPeter J. Hall and lighting is by British designer Paul Pyant.Rigoletto will be sung in Italian with English supertitles.

Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus About the opera: The libretto for Rigoletto was written by Francesco Maria Piave and is based on Le Roi s'amuse, a play by Victor Hugo inwhich the major characters are historical: Frances I of France, a contemporary of Henry VIII, and his jester Triboulet. Theopera, originally titled La maledizione (The Curse), was faithful to the play's basic story line, but the Italian censors foundthe libretto so shocking that they demanded changes; Hugo's play had shocked the French as well and had to be withdrawnafter only two performances.

The censors were particularly concerned with the story's unflattering portrait of King FrancesI, which they feared would provoke subversive behavior. To fictionalize the story, the locale was moved to Italy, the Kingwas reduced in rank to a duke and the jester's name was changed to Rigoletto (from the French rigoler, "to laugh").Rigoletto, Verdi's fifteenth opera, was an instant success upon its premiere at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice on March 11,1851, and is one of the most enduring operas in the repertory.

Its title role is regarded as one of the most demanding everwritten for a baritone, both musically and dramatically.

All performances of Houston Grand Opera's production of Verdi's Rigoletto are held in the Wortham Center's Brown Theater, Texas Avenue at Smith Street, Houston, TX. Sung in Italian with English super titles.

Performance Dates
Friday, April 17, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. *Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.Friday, April 24, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
*ON for Young Professionals reception

Ticket Information:Individual tickets for Verdi's Rigoletto are now on sale and start at $20 (inclusive of all city surcharges)

General information and tickets are available at www.houstongrandopera.org or call 713-228-OPERA (6737) or1-800-62-OPERA (800-626-7372) 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and from 12:00 p.m. until curtain time ondays of Saturday and Sunday performances.

Hours are subject to change.
The Wortham Theater Center features wheelchair access to both theaters, with a choice of seating locations andticket prices. An infrared listening system, underwritten by Shell Lubricants, is available and free of charge at allperformances.

Disabled access and TDD: 713-228-OPERA (6737) or 1-800-62-OPERA (800-626-7372);Descriptive Services: 713-546-0675.
The Wells Fargo Pre-Curtain Lecture Series takes place forty-five minutes before each performance. Guestspeakers present a twenty-minute informal lecture in the orchestra level of the Brown Theater. These talks, freeand open to all ticket holders, are intended to enhance the audience's enjoyment by preparing them for the operathey are about to attend.


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