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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Verdi: Rigoletto

06/01/2014 1:00 pm
06/01/2014 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

This is the one Verdi opera that, surprisingly, I have never previously broadcast in the three decades I've handled the Sunday afternoon timeslot. What you'll hear today is an historic recording of Rigoletto (1851), recorded live in performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, February 22, 1964.

This is actually an airtape of a radio broadcast from the stage of the Met, capturing for posterity the voices of the Met's house singers from a period that many opera aficionados regard as the Golden Age of opera singing. Sony Classical has been privileged to take these airtapes from the Met's audio archive, digitally enhance their sonic quality (often monaural sound) and present them to the public on compact disc in Sony's recent "The Metropolitan Opera" series.

Heading the cast in the title role is tenor Robert Merrill as the hunchbacked court jester of Mantua. Rigoletto is an operatic tragedy ultimately derived from a drama by the French author Victor Hugo, the same author who created the deaf hunchback character Quasimodo in his famous novel. Rigoletto's daughter Gilda is portrayed by another one of the Met's reigning stars of that era, soprano Roberta Peters. The Duke of Mantua is yet another one of the Met's luminary house tenors, Richard Tucker. Fausto Cleva conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus.