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Thursday, January 5, 2012


Media Contact:
Hilarie Ashton | Public Relations Manager
hashton@usuo.org | (801)869-9027
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2011


SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Opera will present Verdi’s enduring masterpiece, “Rigoletto,” a classic tale of revenge and regret, at the Capitol Theatre January 21, 23, 25 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. and January 29 at 2 p.m.

Verdi’s opera follows Rigoletto, a hunchbacked jester notorious for ridiculing and mocking the fathers and husbands of the women dishonored by the Duke of Mantua. Rigoletto’s malicious tongue ultimately earns him a curse that haunts his every step toward revenge against the Duke for deceiving his own daughter, Gilda. In his vengeful chase, Rigoletto pays an assassin to trick and kill the duke, but finds he is the fool and instead pays for his cruel mockeries with a loss of horrific proportion.

“Rigoletto” has become a staple of the standard operatic repertoire. It contains some of opera’s most recognizable arias, such as “Questa o Quella,” “Caro Nome” and “La Donna é Mobile,” and is considered to be the first masterpiece of Verdi’s middle-to-late career. 

Cast members include Guido LeBrón as Rigoletto, Robert McPherson as the Duke of Mantua, Eric Jordan as Sparafucile and local Utah favorite Celena Shafer as Gilda, Directed by Tara Faircloth. The Utah Symphony will accompany each performance, conducted by Robert Tweten. The opera will be sung in Italian with English supertitles. With two twenty-minute intermissions, approximate final curtain time will be 9:45 p.m. for evening performances and 4:15 p.m. for the matinee.

Utah Opera’s customary Opera Preview Lectures have been replaced this season with sets of in-depth online learning materials. The online course for “Rigoletto,” prepared by Dr. Paul Dorgan of the University of Utah’s School of Music, will become available January 7, free of charge, and will highlight the opera’s origin, as well as composer Giuseppe Verdi, librettist Francesco Maria Piave and “Le roi s'amuse,” the play by Victor Hugo on which the opera was based. Opera enthusiasts will also be able to access audio and video recordings of the opera and a YouTube guide to the story and music in this interactive course by clicking the “learn more” button on the “Rigoletto” page at www.utahopera.org.

Utah Opera Principal Coach Carol Anderson will offer an Opera Prelude Lecture, free of charge, in the front of the orchestra seating level of Capitol Theatre one hour before curtain of each performance.

Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth will hold a Q&A session, free of charge, immediately following each performance in the Founders room on the mezzanine level at Capitol Theatre (50 West 200 South).

Tickets for the performances range from $16 to $75 and can be purchased by calling (801) 355-ARTS (2787), in person at the Abravanel Hall ticket office or by visiting www.usuo.org. Students can purchase discounted tickets with a student ID. Season ticket holders and those desiring group discounts should call (801) 533-NOTE (6683). Ticket prices will increase $5 when purchased on the day of the performance.

Composed by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Maria Piave
Based on Victor Hugo’s Le Roi s’amuse

Duke of Mantua                                     Robert McPherson
Rigoletto                                               Guido LeBrón
Count Ceprano                                      Tyler Oliphant
Count Monterone                                   Gregory Pearson**
Sparafucile                                           Eric Jordan
Matteo Borsa                                        Andrew Penning*
Cavaliere Marullo                                   John Buffett*
Countess Ceprano                                 Jennie Litster*
Gilda                                                    Celena Shafer
Giovanna                                              Sishel Claverie*
Maddalena                                            Kirsten Gunlogson
Page                                                    Raina Thorne

Conductor                                             Robert Tweten
Director                                                Tara Faircloth
Set Designer                                         John Deegan & Sarah Conly
Costume Designer                                 Susan Memmott-Allred
Lighting Designer                                  Nicholas Cavallaro
Wigs and Make-up Designer                  Sarah Opstad
Chorus Master                                       Susanne Sheston
Musical Preparation                               Carol Anderson, Daveth Clark
Guest Coach                                         Stephanie Rhodes
Stage Manager                                      Rachel C. Henneberry
Assistant Stage Manager                       Kat Slagell

* Utah Opera Resident Artist
** Former Utah Opera Resident Artist
The performance will last approximately 2:10 hours, with two twenty-minute intermissions.


Act 1
During a ball at his palace, the Duke of Mantua tells of his designs on a beautiful girl he has seen in church. Then, admiring Count Ceprano's wife, the Duke rejoices in the beauty of women and his libertine hedonism (''Questa o quella''). When the Duke's flirtatious dance with Countess Ceprano draws the couple into another room,  Rigoletto, the court jester, mocks the woman's enraged but helpless husband. The nobles, delighted by the Duke's daring, are even more amused when Marullo bursts in with the latest gossip: Rigoletto is keeping a young mistress. The jester has been so free with his jibes that Ceprano plots with other courtiers to punish him. Monterone, an elderly nobleman, forces his way in and denounces the Duke for seducing his daughter. Ridiculed by Rigoletto, Monterone hurls a father's curse at both jester and Duke.
On the way home that night,  Rigoletto broods over Monterone's curse. Sparafucile steps from the shadows, offering his services as an assassin. The jester dismisses him, reflecting that his own tongue is as sharp as any murderer's dagger (''Pari siamo!''). As he enters his courtyard, Gilda, his daughter, comes out of the house to greet him. When she asks about her long-dead mother, Rigoletto describes his wife as an angel (''Deh, non parlare al misero''), adding that Gilda is everything to him. But he will not reveal his name or allow her to leave the house except to go to church. Rigoletto warns the housekeeper, Giovanna, to admit no one (''Ah! veglia, o donna''). He runs into the street when he hears someone at the gate; at the same moment, the Duke, in disguise, slips into the courtyard, bribing Giovanna to keep her quiet. The Duke declares his love to Gilda, who has noticed him in church (''È il sol dell'anima''). He says he is ''Gualtier Maldè,'' a poor student. At the sound of footsteps -- Ceprano and Borsa are rallying courtiers outside -- Gilda begs him to leave, and they exchange excited goodbyes (''Addio, speranza ed anima!''). Repeating his name (''Caro nome''), Gilda goes up to bed. Meanwhile, the courtiers stop Rigoletto and ask him to help abduct Ceprano's wife, who lives across the street. The jester is duped into wearing a blindfold and holding a ladder against his own garden wall while the courtiers break into his house (''Zitti, zitti'') and carry off Gilda. When Rigoletto hears her cry for help, he tears off the blindfold and rushes in. Not finding Gilda, he remembers Monterone's curse (''Ah! la maledizione!'').

Act 2
In his palace, the Duke is distraught over the kidnapping of Gilda, whom he imagines alone and in tears (''Parmi veder le lagrime''). When his courtiers return, saying they took her and she is now in his chamber, he dashes off to the conquest (''Possente amor mi chiama''). Soon Rigoletto enters, searching for Gilda. Though the courtiers are astonished to learn she is his daughter, they bar his way. He lashes out at their cruelty, then weeps for mercy (''Cortigiani! vil razza''). Gilda appears and runs in shame to her father. Alone with Rigoletto, Gilda tells of falling in love at church, of the Duke's courtship, of her abduction (''Tutte le feste al tempio''). When Monterone is led through on his way to the dungeons, Rigoletto declares he will avenge them both (duet: ''Siì, vendetta'').

Act 3
Rigoletto and Gilda wait outside the inn where Sparafucile and his sister, Maddalena, live. Rigoletto makes Gilda look through an opening in the wall. She sees the Duke, disguised as a soldier and laughing about the fickleness of women (''La donna è mobile''), trying to seduce the assassin's sister. Rigoletto cautions his daughter and plots revenge, as Maddalena draws out the libertine (quartet: ''Bella figlia dell'amore''). Telling Gilda to dress as a boy, the jester sends her to Verona, then pays Sparafucile to murder the Duke and leaves. A storm breaks. Gilda returns to overhear Maddalena urging her brother to spare the stranger. Sparafucile agrees to substitute the next person who comes to the inn. Gilda, resolved to sacrifice herself, knocks at the door and is stabbed. Rigoletto returns to claim his prize -- only to hear his supposed victim singing in the distance. Frantically opening the sack, he finds his daughter. Gilda dies asking forgiveness.


Tara Faircloth (Texas)
Stage Director
Utah Opera mainstage debut
Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Tulsa Opera;
Sweeney Todd, Wolf Trap Opera;
Denise & Seymur (world premiere), Houston Grand Opera
Il Trovatore, Opera Colorado;
The Rake's Progress, Wolf Trap Opera.

Robert Tweten (Canada)
Most recently at Utah Opera, Falstaff 
Pagliacci/Gianni Schicchi, Calgary Opera;
Tosca, Edmonton Opera, Vancouver Opera, Opera Birmingham;
Die Zauberfloete, Sarasota Opera;
La Cenerentola, Austin Lyric Opera
Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Vancouver Opera;
Fidelio, Edmonton Opera

Guido LeBrón (Puerto Rico)
 Most Recently at Utah Opera, Tosca
Rio de Sangre, Florentine Opera;
La Traviata, Tri-Cities Opera;
Il Trovatore, Atlanta Opera;
La Bohème, Opera de Puerto Rico
Fidelio, Fargo-Moorhead Opera;
Rigoletto, Opera Saratoga

Robert McPherson (Federal Way, WA)
Il duca di Mantua
Most recently at Utah Opera, Don Pasquale
Il Viaggo a Reims, Vlaamse Opera;
L'italiana in Algeri, Florentine Opera, Washington National Opera;
La Fille du Regiment, La Juive, Il viaggo a Reims, New Israeli Opera
Albert Herring, Los Angeles Opera;
Les pêcheurs de perles, English National Opera;
Turn of the Screw, New Israeli Opera

Celena Shafer (Utah)
Most recently at Utah Opera, La Bohème
Messiah, Phoenix Symphony;
Albert Herring, Santa Fe Opera;
Mozart Requiem, Detroit Symphony
Carmina Burana, Carnegie Hall

Gregory Pearson (Utah/Arkansas)
Most recently with Utah Opera, Fidelio
Tosca, Wildwood Opera;
Grapes of Wrath, Pittsburg Opera;
La Traviata, Archorage Opera
Hosanna, Lex de Azevedo

John Buffett (Ohio)
Most recently at Utah Opera, Little Women
Hansel and Gretel, Opera Memphis;
La Bohème, Mercury Opera Rochester;
Acteon, Boston Early Music Festival;
Fellow, Tanglewood Music Center;
Current Utah Opera Resident Artist
L'Elisir d'Amore (cover) Utah Opera

Sishel Claverie (Guadalajara, Mexico)
Utah Opera Debut, Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto
The Consul, Opera New Jersey;
To Cross the Face of the Moon, Houston Grand Opera;
Ariadne auf Naxos, Rice Opera;
Così fan tutte, Moores Opera Center;
Current Utah Opera Resident Artist

Kirsten Gunlogson (Salt Lake City)
Most recently at Utah Opera, Madama Butterfly
Grapes of Wrath, Anchorage Opera;
Le Nozze di Figaro, Opera Columbus and Nashville Opera;
Rigoletto, Austin Lyric Opera;
Cherubino, Lyric Opera Baltimore

Jennie Litster (Nevada)
Utah Opera Debut
Le Nozze di Figaro, Opera San Jose;
Don Giovanni, Livermore Valley Opera;
Die Fledermaus, Center Stage Opera;
Current Utah Opera Resident Artist

Tyler Oliphant (Utah)
Most recently at Utah Opera, Gianni Schicchi
The Pilgrim, Cathedral of the Madeleine;
Pirates of Penzance, Opera San Luis Obispo;
Pirates of Penzance, Indianapolis Opera
Madama Butterfly, Bozeman Opera

Andrew Penning (Minnesota)
Utah Opera debut
The Dialogues of the Carmelites, University of Cincinnati;
The Rape of Lucretia, CCM Spoleto; 
Candide, Seagle Music Colony;   
Current Utah Opera Resident Artist

Raina Thorne (Utah)
Most recently at Utah Opera, Suor Angelica
The Merry Widow, The Ohio Light Opera;
Little Women, University of Utah Lyric Opera;
L'Incoronazione di Poppea, La Musica Lirica

Sarah Annette Opstad (Colorado)
Wig and Makeup Designer
Utah Opera Debut
The Nutcracker, Colorado Ballet;
Ragtime, The Arvada Center;
La Cenerentola, Opera Colorado;
Marriage of Figaro, Opera Colorado


Hilarie Ashton
Public Relations Manager
801.869.9027 office
801.335.9387 cell

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