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A classic tribute to the genius of Verdi

Verdi's Rigoletto by The Ravenna Festival

The Ravenna Festival production of Verdi's famous Rigoletto opera had some absolutely stellar moments.

I have to say, most of these were produced by the soaring soprano voice of female lead Rosa Feola.

Rigoletto is an opera about a womanising noble, the Duke of Mantua, court jester Rigoletto and his daughter Gilda. The Duke sings constantly about the fickle nature of women and pursues a new one often.

Feola played the role of Gilda and her talent was evident from the moment she took to the stage. Her complete command of her voice and her ability to project and hold notes perfectly changed the entire tone of the opera.

Despite adequate male leads, I felt that everyone else struggled a little to keep up with her.

The male leads were sometimes drowned out by the orchestra, which rarely happened with Feola. That said, when she performed duets with Giordano Lucˆ (who played the Duke) and Francesco Landolfi (who played Rigoletto), the opera shone.

The male chorus, made up of first and second tenors, baritones and basses, was utterly perfect every time they stepped forward.

They created a beautiful ambience and their voice melded together to stunning effect.

I had a good seat for the opera, but I still sometimes struggled to hear the singing over the music.

I'm not sure whether the music was a little too loud or if the male singers weren't projecting quite enough, but it did leave a few things a little flat for me.

It was something I was willing to accept, since it is a fault many famous opera houses commit, but when presented with Feola's ability to rise above it all, I became less generous with the other singers.

One thing that bothered me was that without the surtitles (provided in both English and Arabic), the opera would have been difficult to understand as the acting wasn't clear enough. One of the nuances of the opera is that it does not have to be in a language one speaks in order to be understood. This one would have been difficult to grasp without the surtitles.

As the opera neared its end, I was looking forward to what is possibly its most well-known song, La donna  mobile.

Lucˆ gave his all to the performance and I enjoyed his playful expression and movement throughout it.

The song, before its initial performance in Venice in 1851, was rehearsed under tight secrecy. According to the tale, it proved fortuitous because its catchy tune meant that gondoliers began singing it immediately afterwards.

I can attest its catchiness because I found myself humming it for the rest of the night.

The opera is in three acts and lasts for three hours with two 20-minute breaks. It is long, but operas often are.

Stage and set director Cristina Mazzavillani Muti worked hard to put together a performance of one of the world's most loved and most-performed operas. The last performance of Rigoletto will be held tonight at 8pm at the Bahrain National Theatre.

Tickets cost BD30 and BD40 and are available at The Virgin Megastore (with a 20 per cent student discount for balcony seats) and online at www.virgin.com/company/virgin-megastore.



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