Rigoletto
Teatro Real / Madrid, 2023

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor: Nicola Luisotti
Director: Miguel Del Arco
Scenography: Numen + Ivana Jonke
Light Design: Juan Cornejo
Choreography: Luz Arcas
Assistant of Scenography: Vanja Magic

Special thanks to Celeste Carrasco, Technical Production Manager

1. Act begins with an extended staging of the collapse of the main theatre curtain. What firstly appeared to be a normal red velvet curtain, now awkwardly tilts and careens before the stunned audience, until it revels itself to be the front side of a huge inflated cube, whose lateral sides are made from black fabric. As the Preludio music intensifies, the cube is collapsing and deflating dramatically, while the “curtain" plunges backwards to form and open an organic red landscape that covers the large portion of the stage. The fluorescent chandeliers descend and the scene is now set for the orgy sequence. The bodies of performers are scattered alongside this receptive surface, which, ironically, was a royal curtain a few minutes ago. At the completion of the scene, the red fabric is sucked out of the stage, and slithers away, revealing only the black, hilly terrain that is slowly moving towards the audience. The chandeliers retreat and the landscape fills with haze to create a sense of a sombre, predatory exterior. Rigoletto stumbles among the towering shapes, until he opens a slit in the terrain while attempting to remove the fabric from one of the hills. The material opens a transparent foil cupola. The cupola is air-supported and it contains a hortus clausus, wildly planted with forest fern and meadow grasses. This is Gilda’s locked garden which she shares with a number of forest nymphs, acting as her untamed, elusive doubles. The lush garden is green and well-lit, in sharp contrast with the dystopian, dead environment around it. The whole scene has a sense of terraforming a distant, inhospitable planet. The fragility of life should be palpable. The cupola can be removed for Gilda’s aria, leaving the garden unprotected and open to invasion. Act 1 ends with a classic lowering of the theatre curtain, which is additionally prepared during the pause to (again) play a decisive role in the Act 2. 


For the start of Act 2, instead of going up, the curtain disintegrates into pillar-like cutouts which slide backwards into the depth of the stage and assume a spatial composition of a great hypostyle hall. This is the classical ducal palace scene. The chandeliers ominously return, and the architectural character of the set is enhanced by a circular sofa composition in the middle of the stage. Despite this scene being structurally different to the opening scene, there is a clear visual connection between the two. For the ending of the Act 2 (meeting of Gilda and Rigoletto in the palace), the pillars become warped and the palace assumes a chaotic, jungle-like character. The scene closes with the curtain pillars slowly straightening up and moving in the opposite direction until they form an even surface and completely close the portal.

The Act 3 starts again with the closed red curtain which opens through segments falling down and revealing a cave like environment, formed by suspended, organic masses of dark fabric. In one of the cave openings, we glimpse a dimly lit tavern. This is a warm subterranean space, a loud den of the social underworld, with shadows moving on the walls. The tavern is alive and intense, yet surrounded by the river mists and murky landscape. The spatial elements for the interior are realistic, while the rest of the scenery remains shrouded in abstract organicism. With Gilda’s murder the fly system will release and lower all of the suspended fabric, the cave will fold down and disappear in the slow avalanche of black cloth. In the “maledizione” scene, Rigoletto is left to drag the dead Gilda among the ruins of the set and through the exposed structures of theatre technology. 

 

Making of

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