home home
home home
Home Dutch National Opera presents

Rigoletto Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Cursed jester

Duration 2:40

Breaks 1

By Giuseppe Verdi

Language Italian

Surtitles English & Dutch

The five most popular Verdi operas certainly include the heart-rending drama about the jester Rigoletto, who unwittingly brings about the death of his own daughter.

In short

Rigoletto is based on Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse, in which King Francis I is portrayed as a debauched womaniser. When Verdi wanted to write an opera about it, the censors demanded that the central character was not a king. So he became one of the dukes of Mantua. In juxtaposition to the many ‘dark’ elements like Rigoletto’s curse – a higher, merciless power – there are ‘lighter’ elements such as the flightiness of the promiscuous duke and the naivety of Gilda. The character tragedy Rigoletto, about people with whom we can easily identify, heralded the birth of modern Italian music drama.

Take a look behind the scenes in our decoratelier



CARLO RIZZI (conductor) made his debut as a conductor with Donizetti’s L’ajo nell’imbarazzo in 1982, and was appointed Conductor Laureate with WNO, where he has conducted Fidelio, Peter Grimes, Salome, Don Carlo and Der fliegende Holländer.


Damiano Michieletto (director) made his opera debut at the Wexford Festival with Weinberger’s Svanda dudák. He designed several children’s education programmes for the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi.

Team, Cast and Chorus

Musical director 
Carlo Rizzi
Stage director 
Damiano Michieletto
Paolo Fantin
Agostino Cavalca
Alessandro Carletti
Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest
Koor van De Nationale Opera
Ching-Lien Wu
Meike van de Akker
Lonneke Dapiran
Il duca di Mantova 
Saimir Pirgu
Luca Salsi
Lisette Oropesa
Rafal Siwek
Annalisa Stroppa
Cornelia Oncioiu
Il Conte di Monterone 
Carlo Cigni
Roberto Accurso
Airam Hernández
Il Conte di Ceprano 
Tomeu Bibiloni
La Contessa di Ceprano 
Esther Kuiper


The young director Damiano Michieletto is returning to Dutch National Opera for Rigoletto, following his successful debut with Il viaggio a Reims (2015), in which he situated the story in a museum. Carlo Rizzi, who is conducting the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, is always a popular guest with DNO.

The title role of Rigoletto is sung by Luca Salsi (DNO debut), Il Duca di Mantove by Saimir Pirgu (DNO debut) and Gilda is sung by Lisette Oropesa, an audience favourite since her interpretation of Nannetta in Falstaff (2014).

Baritone Luca Salsi (Rigoletto) made his debut at a very young age in La scala di seta (Bologna) and won first prize at the Concorso Internazionale di Musica Viotti. He has sung at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Teatro Real in Madrid. Verdi roles include Giorgio Germont in La traviata, Nabucco, Don Carlo in Ernani, Macbeth, Il Conte di Luna in Il trovatore, Renato in Un ballo in maschera, Rodrigo in Don Carlo and Ford in Falstaff. His other repertoire includes Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Valentin in Faust and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly.

Saimir Pirgu (Il Duca di Mantova) studied singing in Italy as the protégé of Luciano Pavarotti. He won the 'Pavarotti d'Oro' award in September 2013. The recent repertoire of the tenor includes productions such as La traviata (the Metropolitan Opera - New YorkBerlin Staatsoper, Royal Opera House London), La bohème, Macbeth (Gran Teatre del Liceu - Barcelona), La traviata (Fondazione Arena di Verona), La damnation de Faust (Bolshoi Theater), Krol Roger (Opera Australia), Don Giovanni (Wiener Staatsoper), Lucia di Lammermoor (Teatro di San Carlo) en Die Zauberflöte (La Scala - Milaan).




Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Carlo Rizzi

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Along with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra has been the regular orchestra partner of Dutch National Opera since 1985, and is internationally regarded as one of the best opera orchestras. Each season, the two orchestras perform the majority of the opera productions in Dutch National Opera & Ballet. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra gives a varied programme of concerts in the Concertgebouw and also performs at other major concert halls and festivals in the Netherlands and abroad. Marc Albrecht is the principal conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra|Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and of Dutch National Opera. In recent seasons, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra has had great success with audiences and international press alike, with productions including Gurre-LiederLohengrinDer RosenkavalierIl Trovatore and Hänsel und Gretel. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Marc Albrecht, received an Edison for their recording of the DNO production Der Schatzgräber, in December 2014.

    Wed 10 Feb

    ‘Precisely through divesting Il viaggio a Reims of realism and presenting it as a surreal fairytale, Michieletto has succeeded in revitalising this opera in an ingenious way’. - Theaterkrant, 2015