Florida Grand Opera to present Verdi’s Rigoletto at Arsht Center

Florida Grand Opera to present Verdi's Rigoletto at Arsht Center
Todd Thomas as Rigoletto

Florida Grand Opera (@FGOpera) presents Verdi’s masterpiece Rigoletto as the third production of the company’s 79th season, sung in Italian, with English and Spanish projected translations above the stage.

Verdi’s Rigoletto is scheduled for four performances at the Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami on Mar. 28, 31, Apr. 2 and 5.

“Rigoletto is remarkable not only for the beauty and power of the music but also the vivid characterizations and compact dramatic pacing,” said Susan T. Danis, general director and CEO. “It will be a riveting experience of opera, and we’re pleased to present our audience with grand opera at its finest.”

All erformances will feature baritone Todd Thomas in his anticipated return to FGO in the title role of the Duke’s jester Rigoletto, with Polish tenor Piotr Buszewski making his FGO debut as the philandering Duke of Mantua. Grammy Award-winning soprano and FGO Studio alumna Jessica E. Jones returns to FGO in the role of Rigoletto’s daughter, Gilda, and Raymond Aceto makes his FGO debut as the hired assassin Sparafucile. Florida Grand Opera also welcomes conductor Pacien Mazzagatti and stage director Kathleen Belcher in both of their FGO debuts with the company.

About the opera:
World premiere: Teatro La Fenice, Venice, 1851. FGO premiere: 1948, last performed by FGO in 2012.

In this story, Rigoletto is a court jester to the Duke of Mantua, a notorious sexual abuser. After the Duke harms a young woman, Rigoletto mocks the victim’s father, who then curses the jester for being so heartless. Later, the Duke goes after Rigoletto’s own daughter, Gilda, and the cruel joke falls on Rigoletto, whose story ends in tragedy.

Basing his opera off Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse, Giuseppe Verdi composed Rigoletto as a confrontation to authority and as a means of illuminating abuse of power. Ironically, this dark tale includes one of the brightest, most beloved arias in the entire art form, La donna è mobile, which even non-opera fans will know from Alvin and the Chipmunks, Doritos Super Bowl commercials, or a variety of other uses in popular culture.

Rigoletto is one of the highlights of Verdi’s career, along with La traviata, which Florida Grand Opera recently announced will launch the 2020-21, 80th Anniversary Season in November 2020.

Recognized by opera companies and critics alike as one of the true Verdi baritones gracing stages today, Todd Thomas continues his reign as one of “America’s most sought after artists” by Opera News. Todd Thomas made his FGO debut in 2014 in Tosca and returned later that year to perform the role of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, and 2017 in Un ballo in maschera (The Masked Ball). Todd Thomas reprises his role as Rigoletto, which he last performed at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Syracuse Opera.

A 2019 Metropolitan National Council and Operalia finalist, Polish tenor Piotr Buszewski made his professional U.S. debut in 2018 in the title role of Donizetti’s Il Pigmalione with the New York City Opera. That was followed by his role debut as the Duke in Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Wolftrap Festival, and Tybalt in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliet at the Metropolitan Opera and Covent Garden, This year he will sing Nemorino in a new production of Donizetti’s L’elisir D’amore for Opera Leipzig

Jessica E. Jones is a graduate of the FGO Studio Artist Program, and is garnering national attention for her interpretation of bel canto and American operatic repertoire. She performed in the world premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs with Santa Fe Opera which won her a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording in 2019. Jones made her mainstage debut with FGO in the role of Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice in 2018.

Raymond Aceto is well known at leading opera houses around the world. He has appeared frequently with the Metropolitan Opera, most recently as Zaccaria in Nabucco, the King in Aida, Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni, and Sparafucile in Rigoletto.

Heralded by Opera News as “clearly a name to watch,” conductor Pacien Mazzagatti has garnered considerable critical acclaim for his work conducting opera both in the United States and abroad. He has served as principal conductor of the New York City Opera since January 2016. During his tenure, he has led several important productions in a wide array of repertoire and will be making his FGO debut at the podium leading the Florida Grand Opera Orchestra.

All four productions of the 2019-20 season feature female stage directors. Making her directing debut at FGO is Kathleen Belcher, currently engaged in her 17th year as a member of the directing staff at the Metropolitan Opera, where she has collaborated on numerous Live in HD broadcasts, including Emmy-winning production of Don Pasquale.

Tickets currently are on sale, starting at $15 in Miami. Tickets can be purchased online at www.FGO.org or by calling the FGO Box Office, Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at 1-800-741-1010. Special rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling 305- 403-3319 or visiting www.FGO.org/groups.

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