Giuseppe Verdi (Italy, 1813–1901)
Libretto Francesco Maria Piave (Italy, 1810–76)
Based on Le roi s'amuse, a play by Victor Hugo (France, 1802–1885)
Premiere La Fenice, Venice, Italy, 11 March 1851
Renessaince Mantua, Italy, around 1500
Plot in brief Rigoletto, a hunch-backed jester, works at Duke of Mantua's palace its amusing visitors at a masquerade. The Duke is a ladies man who is not afraid to try his luck with every woman who passes his way. The Duke's latest hearthrob is a young girl, whom he has seen going to the church every Sunday. No one yet knows, that this young girl is Gilda, Rigoletto's daughter, who keeps her well guarded. All of a sudden Count Monterone appears to the scene, and begins threatening the Duke for having seduced Monterone's daughter. Rigoletto makes fun of the Count and furious Monterone ends up cursing both Rigoletto and the Duke. The masquarade continues with courtiers ridiculing Rigoletto for having a mistress. They do not know she is his daughter. To humiliate Rigoletto, the courtiers abduct Gilda and take her to the Duke's palace. Rigoletto finds out about the trick the courtiers played on him and finds Gilda at the Duke's bedchamber. The following night wrathful Rigoletto pays the assassin Sparafucile to murder the Duke. However, Maddalena, Sparafucile's sister has fallen in love with the Duke and begs his brother not to save his life. The siblings then come up with a plan to kill a beggar, who has just arrived at their house, instead. Rigoletto comes back to retrieve the body and becomes suspicious as he hears his supposed victim singing in the distance. Horrified, he opens the sack only to find Gilda, disguised as a beggar, who dies asking for forgiveness, and Rigoletto wails Monterone's fulfilled curse.
Other characters Giovanna, Gilda's duenna; Cavaliere Marullo, a courtier; Matteo Borsa, a courtier; Count Ceprano, a noble; Countess Ceprano, one of the Duke's crushes; Court Usher and the Duchess's Page.