In the anticipation leading up to the new season of the Royal Italian Opera in 1853, one might think that a new opera by Verdi would be of interest.
Not for the writer in the Daily News, 22 March 1853, who comments, without naming the opera, “… a new opera by the weak and worn-out Verdi, which, ten to one, will turn out a failure…”
The title of the opera might be deduced from the date but I checked in The Era, 27 March, to be sure.
I am not going to criticise the writer for a lack of foresight as that would be unreasonable. That said, oh to be as weak and worn-out as Verdi!
Title page of the libretto in English translation, sold at Covent Garden in 1853 – Osborne, Rigoletto
“When Rigoletto was first produced in London, at Covent Garden on May 14, 1853, the conductor was Michael Costa and the principals were Angiolina Bosia (Gilda), Giovanni Mario (Duke of Mantua) and Giorgio Ronconi (Rigoletto), all of whom were admired by the critics, though the opera was not. It was, however, an instant success with that real and final arbiter, the public, and has seldom since been long away from the Covent Garden stage.”
Charles Osborne, Rigoletto
Rigoletto is, perhaps, my favourite opera. So, when I came across this review of its UK premiere, I was fascinated by the response of the writer to the performance. My commentary is unnecessary; read it for yourself. Continue reading