Opera Scotland

Rigoletto 2017Clyde Opera Group

Read more about the opera Rigoletto

Clyde Opera Group

The Clyde Opera Group was established in 2015 with the aim of promoting young singers at the beginning of their careers. Performers are chosen from Britain and abroad, and spend ten days of intensive rehearsals, musical and stage, so they can try out roles that they may hope to return to in the future. Some parts are also taken by experienced local amateurs, giving them a rare opportunity to perform in Italian. A chamber orchestra is recruited - twenty players of excellent quality, as Glasgow has a resident pool of accomplished musicians available nowadays. No chorus is used, but several of the singers are able to combine as required.

This highly enjoyable Rigoletto was the Group's second full opera, following on last year's successful Bohème. Many of the characters were double-cast, providing a different line-up at each of the two performances.

The concept

The staging was in the hands of a young team directed by Ruth Mariner in the simple but appropriate designs of Patti Amat. The general concept was modern. The Duke was seen as a property developer, an occupation where greed and the pursuit of money and power were taken for granted. He and his courtiers were in business suits and hard hats. Rigoletto himself was some kind of fixer, in overalls.

The set design took advantage of the back wall of the stage (bare brickwork), so the only structures needed were two towers of scaffolding, one to each side. They provided convenient vantage points and singing platforms, as well as the Duke's sleeping quarters in the final scene.

The performance

Much of the success of the opening night was due to the accomplished conducting of the Glasgow-resident Romanian Razvan Luculescu. His pacing was excellent, brisk without being rushed. The singers all had a sympathetic accompaniment and the climactic ensembles such as the second act finale and the last act storm were beautifully measured. It was noticeable that Verdi's scoring was insisted on, with few of the traditional inserted high notes allowed.

Of the first night cast, the two outstanding performances were from Keanon Kyles, a young American baritone in the title role, and Maria Ximena Abello, a Colombian soprano currently studying in London. Kyles revealed a beautifully-schooled legato while having plenty in reserve for the big moments. Abello's voice is a pearly, sweet-toned instrument, just about ideal for Gilda. Best of all, they worked well together and in duet their collaboration was very rewarding. The second act climax from Gilda's entry through to the enraged 'Si vendetta' finale was perhaps the highlight of the performance.

Jorge Ferrando's Duke was not quite on this level. He certainly has the right kind of voice for this difficult high role and moves well on stage. He produced some beautiful soft singing, especially in 'Parmi veder le lagrime', but also still needs to work on a tone that hardened rather tightly at climaxes. The powerful cabaletta to that aria, 'Possente amor', was the one quite justifiable cut from a satisfyingly full account of the score.

The Sparafucile had a nicely relaxed technique producing a satisfyingly warm tone. There were two mezzos, between them taking three roles in alternation. At the openiing night, Barbara Scott's familiar full-toned voice came over well in her two short roles, and her Italian was well-projected. The only Italian in the cast, Elisa Pittau, a student of that wonderful singer Fiorenza Cossotto, injected plenty of character into Maddalena. The three short courtier roles, Borsa, Marullo and Ceprano, as tenor, baritone and bass, also provided the chorus voices as required - it is sometimes forgotten that the ladies in regular performances only run about and scream a lot, never being asked to sing. As a result the characters were perhaps less individualised than they would be in a more rehearsed reading. However the only point where the full chorus was missed lay in the offstage effects for the gathering storm, here provided by the percussion section.

In all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable reading, which introduced a significantly youthful and enthusiastic audience to one of the most justifiably popular operas of the 19th century repertoire.

Performance Cast

Duke of Mantua

Jorge Ferrando (Jul 29)

Germán Gholami (Jul 30)

Matteo Borsa a courtier

Luis Miguel Gholami

Count Ceprano a courtier

Gabriel Juárez-Arbesú

Countess Ceprano

Barbara Scott (Jul 29)

Elisa Pittau (Jul 30)

Marullo a courtier

Patrick Relph

Rigoletto a jester

Keanon Kyles (Jul 29)

Russell Malcolm (Jul 30)

Count Monterone

Michael Cunningham

Gilda Rigoletto's daughter

Maria Ximena Abello (Jul 29)

Atalia Später (Jul 30)

Sparafucile a professional assassin

Alexandru Onea

Giovanna Gilda's duenna

Barbara Scott (Jul 29)

Elisa Pittau (Jul 30)

Page to the Duchess

Iain Murray


Iain Murray

Maddalena sister of Sparafucile

Elisa Pittau (Jul 29)

Barbara Scott (Jul 30)

Performance DatesRigoletto 2017

Map List

Spire, St Andrews West Church | Glasgow

29 Jul, 19.30 30 Jul, 19.30

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