Not even the presence of Mexican tenor Javier Camarena and the promising Albanian soprano Enkelida Kamani can save from a disastrous outcome the DYNAMIC DVD of a recent Maggio Musicale Fiorentino production of Verdi’s Rigoletto.

The stage misdirection of one Davide Livermore, the tacky scenic design of Gio Forma and the equally tasteless costumes of Gianluca Falaschi, the erratic casting of almost all of the supporting roles – except for the sonorous Monterone of Roman Lyulkin – and, sadly, the vocally taxed and dramatically clueless Luca Salsi in the title role all add up to a dispiriting operatic enterprise.

The blunders and missteps abound, creating utter confusion: Rigoletto’s job as a court jester obviously provides him with little income, so he runs on the side a dry cleaning service and a laundromat. The abduction of Gilda is carried out right under her father’s nose, and her offstage rape by the Duke is made clear by the blood stains down her leg and on her slip. Monterone is shot in Act One, only to reappear unscathed in Act Two. The final scene takes place in Sparafucile’s well-appointed casino and bar, and not in the desolate shack of Verdi’s original. And so on.

Riccardo Frizza ably leads the Covid-masked orchestra and chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, making sure that the standard cuts to the Gilda-Duke and the Rigoletto-Gilda duets get opened and that none of the climactic G’s and A flats are sung by Salsi, who consistently disappoints with his sloppy phrasing.

The embarrassing posturing by all the members of the cast continues though the final curtain call, by which point all hopes of surviving Monterone’s curse appear to have vanished even from the obviously mortified Luca Salsi.

Rafael de Acha                  ALL ABOUT THE ARTS