«Rigoletto» dramatically satisfying
By EARL CUNNINGHAM
Special To The Daily News
Just one day short of the actual 100th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi’s death, the Palm Beach Opera Friday evening presented the first of Five perfor¬mances of the Italian master’s middle period masterpiece Rigoletto — the second in the opera company’s season-long Verdi ret-rospective.
It was a well-conceived, exe-cuted, and grand performance of this emotionally charged, mature work. The characters, well-drawn musically by Verdi’s deft mind, were equally well-performed by an excellent international cast.
The tormented court jester, Rigoletto, was sung by Giorgio Ce- brian, whose nearly 30-year career has included a number of roles at La Scala. He sang with compel¬ling angst when needed and also with great tenderness, especially in duets with his love-struck and, then, struck-dumb by love daugh¬ter, Gilda. He has a rich, dark bar¬itone quality, though not quite the
Low notes. Gilda, sung by soprano Eteri Lamoris, was the star of this production. She has a lovely, rich, clear voice that soared effortlessly when needed but could also be¬come a controlled murmur. She has an enormous stage presence and her famous Act I love aria, es¬pecially, was excellently paced and exquisitely sung the audience was rightfully appreciate.
Both Rigoletto and Gildarc quire singers with wide emotional range. Cebrian and Lamoris fit the bill perfectly.
American tenor Stuart Neill, winner of both the Pavarotti and Palm Beach Opera vocal competi-tions, was adequate as the Duke, whose insincere attention causes the sheltered Gilda to fall uncon-trollably in love with him — some girls are just drawn to bad boys, as they say. He has a huge voice, but his top notes were consistent¬ly covered or insecure. Nonethe¬less, he was able to convey the oily, lecherous man the part re¬quires, if not always the regal bearing of a monarch.
Other American-trained singer, handled the role of paid assassin Sparafucile with consummate skill. His sensuous sister, Maddelena, who lures Sparafucile’s vic¬tims (including the Duke) to their remote inn, was played with snake-like sexuality by American mezzo-soprano Jessie Raven.
The Act III quartet (the Duke and Maddelena, arousing each other on the patio table; Gilda, watching in despair as she realiz¬es that the Duke was just playing her; and Rigoletto muttering his revenge) was high drama, well done.
The scenery, borrowed from the New Orleans Opera Associa-tion, was elegant, and the lighting was well-conceived. The chorus was well-trained by chorus master Seymour Schonberg and precise in its execution. And the orches¬tra, under the leadership of artis¬tic director, Anton Guadagno, was just superb — trumpeter Richard Stoelzel and oboist Kelly Peral were excellent in solo passages.