In three acts by VERDI.
Text by PIAVE from VICTOR HUGO'S drama: "Le roi s'amuse".
No opera has become popular in so short a time as Rigoletto in Italy.
The music is very winning and is, like all that Verdi has
written, full of exquisite melodies.
In Germany it has not met with the same favor, which is due in great
part to its awful libretto, which is a faithful copy of Hugo's drama,
and developed in a truly dramatic manner. The subject is however
rather disgusting. Excepting Gilda, we do not meet with one noble
The Duke of Mantua, a wild and debauched youth, covets every girl or
woman he sees, and is assisted in his vile purposes by his jester,
Rigoletto an ugly, hump-backed man. We meet him first helping the Duke
to seduce the wife of Count Ceprano, and afterwards the wife of Count
Monterone. Both husbands curse the vile Rigoletto and swear to be
avenged. Monterone especially, appearing like a ghost in the midst of
a festival, hurls such a fearful curse at them, that Rigoletto shudders.
This bad man has one tender point, it is his blind love for his
beautiful daughter Gilda, whom he brings up carefully, keeping her
hidden from the world and shielding her from all wickedness.
But the cunning Duke discovers her and gains her love under the assumed
name of a student, named Gualtier Malde.
Gilda is finally carried off by Ceprano and two other courtiers, aided
by her own father, who holds the ladder believing that Count Ceprano's
wife is to be the victim.--A mask blinds Rigoletto and he discovers,
too late, by Gilda's cries that he has been duped. Gilda is
brought to the Duke's palace.--Rigoletto appears in the midst of the
courtiers to claim Gilda, and then they hear that she, whom they
believed to be his mistress, is his daughter, for whose honor he is
willing to sacrifice everything.--Gilda enters and though she sees that
she has been deceived, she implores her father to pardon the Duke, whom
she still loves. But Rigoletto vows vengeance, and engages Sparafucile
to stab the Duke. Sparafucile decoys him into his inn, where his
sister Maddalena awaits him. She too is enamoured of the Duke, who
makes love to her, as to all young females, and she entreats her
brother to have mercy on him. Sparafucile declares that he will wait
until midnight, and will spare him, if another victim should turn up
before then. Meanwhile Rigoletto persuades his daughter to fly from
the Duke's pursuit, but before he takes her away, he wants to show her
lover's fickleness, in order to cure her of her love.
She comes to the inn in masculine attire, and hearing the discourse
between Sparafucile and his sister, resolves to save her lover. She
enters the inn and is instantly put to death, placed in a sack and
given to Rigoletto, who proceeds to the river to dispose of the corpse.
At this instant he hears the voice of the Duke, who passes by, singing
a frivolous tune. Terrified, Rigoletto opens the sack, and recognizes
his daughter, who is yet able to tell him, that she gave her life for
that of her seducer and then expires. With an awful cry, the
unhappy father sinks upon the corpse. Count Monterone's curse has been
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