Produced by: West Bay Opera
Featuring: James Callon, Carmello Tringali, Katherine Trimble, Krassen Karagiozov, Justin Scott Bays, Eric Coyne, Kiril Havezov, Philip Skinner, Christine Capsuto, Alexandra Mena, Elana Cowen, Michael Orlinsky, Anna Yelizarova
Stage direction by: David E. Ostwald
Conducted by: Michel Singher
Running time: 150 minutes, two intermissions
When: October 16, 18, 24, 25, 2015
Where: Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, California
Tickets: $40-$83. Visit www.westbayopera.org or call 1-650-424-9999.
staged by West Bay Opera
Once again, I've been almost mesmerized by the production values staged by West Bay Opera at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto.
Not to mention the excellence of the performance, as the venerable opera company stages Giuseppe Verdi's "Rigoletto."
Bulgarian baritone Krassen Karagiozov is tremendously moving in the title role. His voice is beautiful, but his acting is at least on a par, as he brings the tragic, bent and humpbacked court jester to life, limping across the stage bearing unbelievable sadness and pain.
Rigoletto may have a nasty wit, enough to serve in the court of the horndog Duke of Mantua, but his life is one of misery, as he is abused by courtiers and always living on a sword's edge of death threats. In Act I, he is cursed by Count Monterone, whom he had mocked after Monterone's daughter had been deflowered by the Duke.
In 1550, and in opera in general, curses are taken seriously, and this one haunts Rigoletto for the rest of the production.
Rigoletto's one joy in life is the existence of his daughter Gilda, who has just returned to him after being raised in a convent, where he'd sent her to keep her away from the evils of the court.
I particularly enjoyed the singing of Karagiozov, who brings great drama both to his voice and also his movement. And tenor James Callon, who closed West Bay Opera's last season in the title role of "Faust," was of extraordinarily beautiful tone as the Duke, whose idea of fun is bedding every pretty woman he sees.
If the music, the drama, the humor and the pathos are over the top in "Rigoletto," it is all matched by the impressive sets, by Jean François Revon; the dozens of brightly colorful costumes by Abra Berman and practically magical lighting, by Nick Kumamoto.
Opera can be a full immersion art form. The way West Bay Opera stages shows, everything is powerful, a stunning experience for eyes and ears.
After the bright colors of court, the way Kumamoto lit the night scenes spooky and terrifying was fascinating.
"Rigoletto" opens West Bay Opera's 60th season. It is the second oldest opera company in the Bay Area, surpassed in age only by San Francisco Opera. General Director José Luis Moscovich has programmed known crowd-pleasers for the season "Rigoletto," which has two more performances, tonight and Sunday; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Yvgeny Onegin," February 19, 21, 27 and 28, 2016; and Giacomo Puccini's exquisite "Madama Butterfly," to be performed May 20, 22, 25, 28 and 29, 2016.
Read an interview with Moscovich in The Daily News.
Email John Orr at email@example.com