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One of opera’s greatest works takes centre stage


Issued by The NBR New Zealand Opera

23 April 2012

One of opera’s greatest works takes centre stage

Rigoletto is full of soaring music which makes one feel one's heart is going to burst.
Dramatically, the title role is to an opera singer what Hamlet or King Lear is to an actor.”
– Warwick Fyfe, Rigoletto

The NBR New Zealand Opera’s production of Verdi’s classic opera, Rigoletto, opens in Wellington on Saturday 19 May and Auckland on Thursday 7 June.

Aidan Lang, General Director of the company, is excited to be presenting this great and enduring work. “The great works of the operatic canon are great for a reason,” he says. “Beneath the surface of their glorious music and thrilling theatre, there are ostensibly bigger issues at stake, issues to make us think about the world we live in today and tell us things about ourselves in a direct and sometimes forceful way. Rigoletto is one such piece.

“By interweaving two enormously strong dramatic threads – the abuse of power and the power of the father/daughter relationship – Rigoletto retains its potent impact to this day.”

Hardened by a life of daily taunts, Rigoletto aids and abets his master in the seduction of young women. He mocks their stricken husbands and fathers – until the tables are horribly turned. The Duke seduces Rigoletto’s own daughter, Gilda, and Rigoletto is driven mad with despair. Revenge seems to be his only solution – but fate has something else in store.

The largely shady, but true-to-life characters in Rigoletto are vividly portrayed by a superb, predominantly male cast

After stand-out performances in The Italian Girl in Algiers and Cav & Pag, Australia’s highly acclaimed baritone, Warwick Fyfe, returns to undertake the great central role of Rigoletto, “the zenith of the Verdi baritone repertoire,” he says.

Soprano Emma Pearson, an equally popular Australian on our shores, returns from her triumphant Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro to sing his daughter Gilda.

Following a star turn in last year’s Cav & Pag, Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas is back with the company to play the philandering Duke of Mantua.

From Egypt, bass baritone Ashraf Sewailam joins the cast as the hired killer, Sparafucile. And from New Zealand, baritone Rodney Macann, one of our greatest and most successful international artists, takes the role of Count Monterone, while mezzo soprano Kristin Darragh, whose international career is just taking off, returns from her German base to sing Maddalena.

Smaller principal roles are sung by James Clayton (Count Ceprano), Derek Hill (Matteo Borsa), Matthew Landreth (Cavaliere Marullo), Emma Fraser (Countess Ceprano), Wendy Doyle (Giovanna), and Moses Mackay (The Usher).

Rounding out the cast is the all-male Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus.

Rigoletto is sung in Italian with English surtitles. The production is directed by Lindy Hume, designed by Richard Roberts, and lit by Jason Morphett. Wyn Davies conducts the Vector Wellington Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.


WELLINGTON – St James Theatre

Sat 19, Thu 24 & Sat 26 May – 7.30pm, Tue 22 May – 6pm

AUCKLAND – ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

Thu 7, Sat 9, Wed 13 & Fri 15 June – 7:30pm, Sun 17 June – 2:30pm

Single Tickets: $49.50 to $189.50. Concessions available for benefactors, senior citizens, students and group bookings. Service fees apply.

Bookings: NZ Opera Box Office, Tel (09) 379 4068 or (04) 499 8343, or:

Wellington: Ticketek, Tel 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 538) or

Auckland: The Edge, Tel 0800 BUYTICKETS (0800 289 842) or

-- ENDS –

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