Contradictions and conflicts in an extraordinary score

In a letter to his librettist Francesco Maria Piave, Verdi wrote: “Oh! Victor Hugo's Le Roi s’amuse deals with the greatest of themes and is perhaps the most important play of modern times. It's worthy of Shakespeare!”. He was working on an adaptation of King Lear at the time but then returned to Hugo, to whom he owed the greatest triumph of his most difficult years: Ernani.

The irresistible threesome of the king, his daughter and the court jester came as flash of inspiration to Verdi. Between the shallow, lecherous Duke (Hugo's king) and Gilda, who is both a victim and captive of ignorance, he places Rigoletto, the wonderful, ambivalent hunchback whose paradise is the peaceful home and family he struggles to protect. Despite his outward deformity, Rigoletto is passionately loving being, but also a monstruous father, obsessed by a curse, who is harrowing, grotesque and sublime in equal measure. His star aria, “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata”, takes him from indomitable rage to humble supplication, attesting to Verdi's ability to adapt a form he inherited from bel canto to dramatic realism.

Monique Wagemakers' exuberant production, with its delightful Venetian red costumes, focusses on the themes of ill-treatment, the quest for identity, and the abuse of power over the defenceless, as shown by the Duke's domination of Rigoletto and Rigoletto's domination of his daughter. Precisely the contradictions and conflicts on which the whole extraordinary score rests.

PARADISE: daughter, family and home


Melodrama in three acts.
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave.

World premiere: 11/03/1851 at the Teatro la Fenice, Venice.
Barcelona premiere: 03/12/1853 at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.
Last Liceu performance: 06/04/2017.
Total number of Liceu performances: 375.

  • Approximate running time 2h 40m

Artistic profile

Stage director
Monique Wagemakers
Set design
Michael Levine
Costume design
Sandy Powell
Reinier Tweebeeke
Revival lighting
Cor van den Brink
Klaus Bertisch
Gran Teatre del Liceu and Teatro Real
Chorus of the Liceu Opera House (Pablo Assante, director)
Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu
Daniele Callegari


Duke of MantuaBenjamin Bernheim28th November and 1th,5th,10th,14th,18th December
Saimir Pirgu30th November and 2th,4th,9th,13th,17th,19th December
Josep Bros3th,12th December
RigolettoChristopher Maltman28th November and 1th,3th,5th,10th,12th,14th,18th December
Markus Brück30th November and 2th,4th,9th,13th,17th,19th December
GildaOlga Peretyatko28th November and 1th,3th,5th,10th,12th,14th,18th December
Aigul Khismatullin30th November and 2th,4th,9th,13th,17th,19th December
SparafucileGrigory Shkarupa28th November and 1th,3th,5th,10th,12th,14th,18th December
Liang Li30th November and 2th,4th,9th,13th,17th,19th December
MaddalenaRinat Shaham28th November and 1th,3th,5th,10th,12th,14th,18th December
Nino Surguladze30th November and 2th,4th,9th,13th,17th,19th December
GiovannaLaura Vila
Count MonteroneMattia Denti
MarulloMichal Partyka
Matteo BorsaMoisés Marín
Count CepranoStefano Palatchi
Countess CepranoSara Bañeras

November 2021

28Sunday17:00Turn Tbuy
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December 2021

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Information of Interest

Briefing session

The Liceu offers a briefing session in the main hall before the start of each dramatized opera performance. It begins 50 minutes before the show.


Free Catalunya Música live stream on Sunday, November 28 at 5pm (CET). Not available for streaming worldwide, due to copyright or other clearance issues.