Rigoletto: Brian Montgomery, baritone
Gilda: Amy Cochrane, soprano
Duke of Mantua: Carlo Scibelli, tenor
Sparafucile: Charles Austin, bass
Madison Symphony Orchestra
John DeMain, conductor
In its most ambitious undertaking to date, the Madison Opera's Rigoletto was a feast for eyes and ears, achieving an international-class standard under the musical direction of John DeMain, who supported the singers with utmost lyrical flexibility. Brian Montgomery's sonorous baritone emphasized the jester's dark, obsessive qualities, coarsened by the debauchery of the ducal court and tainting even his tender love for Gilda and his departed wife. Montgomery's acting ably fulfilled the role's multilayered demands.
Amy Cochrane both looked and sounded innocent as Gilda, displaying a clear, bright lyric soprano sound with unerring pitch accuracy. Resisting the temptation to make a set piece of Cara nome, she fit the famous aria properly into the dramatic action. As life ebbed from her body, she movingly rose (lassù in cielo) to her purest sound of the whole opera. Carlo Scibelli's tenor was transparent and velvet-rich. He was comfortable and relaxed, despite the Duke of Mantua's high tessitura. Also shunning excessive display, he let La donna è mobile stand as the metaphor of sybaritic excess. At times a little stiff in his stage movements, Scibelli was nevertheless as convincingly dashing and as thoroughly corrupt as the role requires.
Bruce Baumer (Monterone), Dean Marshall (Count Ceprano), Theresa Brancaccio (Maddelena) and Charles Austin (Sparafucile) all played and sang well, especially Austin, whose sumptuous resonant bass made the assassin almost likable. Opulent sets and costumes from Tri-Cities Opera gave the production a splendid appearance, further enhanced by William Owen's subtle lighting. Elizabeth Bachman's stage direction complemented every necessary dramatic juxtaposition.
Opera News, April, 1997
Copyright 1997 Jess Anderson