Verdi's 'Rigoletto' goes minimalist

By Zhang Qian (Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-12-03 11:38

No fancy 15th-century costumes or opulent sets for this "Rigoletto" by Chinese artists next week - it's strictly music and modern dress. And a Russian pianist is coming to town.

A minimalist, modern-dress "Rigoletto" will be staged as a double-happiness celebration next week for the 80th anniversary of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the 90th birthday of Zhou Xiaoyan, a renowned voice teacher.

Vocalists from the conservatory, the Shanghai Zhou Xiaoyan Opera Center and the Shanghai Opera House will perform Verdi's classic at Shanghai Grand Theater.

It is the second time in 18 years that "Rigoletto" has been performed by Chinese artists in Shanghai. Zhou is the art director this time as well. Rigoletto will b played by one of Zhou's most accomplished students, baritone Liao Changyong, who is also director of the vocal department of the Shanghai Conservatory.

Liao won the first prize in the 41st French International Toulouse Singing Competition, the Placido Domingo Competition, and the Queen Sonja International Music Competition in 1997. His cooperation with Domingo in "Trovatore" at the Washington Opera House in 2000 was highly acclaimed.

"The opera will be more like a concert," says Du Jinze from the Shanghai Zhou Xiaoyan Opera Center. "There won't be dazzling costumes. The melodies such as the famous 'La Donna e Mobile' will be the only thing that takes you into the world of Rigoletto."

The four-act Italian libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on the play "Le Roi s'Amuse" by Victor Hugo. It was first performed in Venice in 1851.

The story is set in 16th-century Italy. A young and charming duke is known for his many love affairs. Rigoletto, the duke's hunchbacked jester, tries to kill him after he finds out his own daughter Gilda has become the duke's target. However, Gilda decides to die for her love when she learns of the plan.

In addition to opera, Shanghai audiences can also listen to classical music next week.

Dmitri Gordin, one of the most outstanding young pianists in Russia, will present a piano recital next Wednesday.

Gordin graduated from Moscow Chaikefusiji Conservatory and studied with many Russian maestros such as Vladimir Krainev. He has performed solo in Germany, Italy, Israel, Ukraine and the United States, and also has been guest soloist at the Moscow Music Festival, the Rachmaninov Music Festival, and the St Petersburg Music Festival.

His repertoire includes Schubert, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt and Shostakovitch.

Opera "Rigoletto'
Date: December 9-12, 7:15pm
Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater, 300 People's Ave
Tickets: 120-500 yuan
Tel: 021-6217-2426/6217-3055

Dmitri Gordin recital
Date: December 5, 7:45pm
Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong
Tickets: 60-300 yuan
Tel: 962-288