Review: ‘Rigoletto’ at the Met Opera Sounds Almost Desperate

The first sign in which things were not going well at Tuesday’s performance of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” at the Metropolitan Opera was the surprisingly effortful singing of Vittorio Grigolo. Right off the bat, bounding onto the stage in a white tuxedo — the Met’s production is actually updated to 1960s Las Vegas — Mr. Grigolo looked the part of the womanizing Duke of Mantua.

yet he acted nervously overeager in addition to also also sang in which way, too. During “Questa o quella,” the duke’s snappy aria declaring in which all women entice him, Mr. Grigolo sounded almost desperate. in which charismatic tenor, with his brawny voice in addition to also also feral intensity, has become perhaps the most dependably exciting singer in opera. in addition to also also when he slips into in which unruly hyper-tenor mode, you often don’t mind because he also delivers blazing sound in addition to also also passion.

yet often on Tuesday, he just pushed too hard vocally in addition to also also overplayed the duke’s unbridled sensuality. Nicola Luisotti’s stylish yet deferential conducting just called more attention to Mr. Grigolo’s volatility.

Verdi’s jester, Rigoletto, is actually turned into in which Rat Pack duke’s sidekick, though what exactly his responsibilities are remains a gap at the core of the director Michael Mayer’s concept. The baritone Roberto Frontali looked sympathetic as an older, bedraggled man in a loud sweater in addition to also also frumpy coat. His voice, if not sizable or richly colored, is actually firm in addition to also also appealing. yet his honorable performance was ill-matched to Mr. Grigolo’s hotheaded aristocrat.

The soprano Nadine Sierra — as Gilda, the daughter Rigoletto tries to keep hidden at home — began unsure yet blossomed. Her singing was technically assured, with clean coloratura passagework in addition to also also shimmering top notes, in addition to also also sensitively phrased. After the duke, pretending to be a poor student, romances Gilda in addition to also also rushes off, you could see Ms. Sierra wondering what feelings in which brash man had unleashed in her. Her reaction set the mood perfectly for the aria “Caro nome.”

Ms. Sierra sang the idea beautifully, though her sound incorporates a bright, sunny glint in which can feel hard-edged. She was at her best during the wrenching scene when Gilda, having been abducted by the duke’s henchmen, confesses her shame to her despairing father.

The earthy bass Stefan Kocan was a malevolent Sparafucile, a hired assassin. As his sister Maddalena, Ramona Zaharia, a rich-voiced mezzo-soprano, had a strong Met debut.

You want to trust in which over the course of a 13-performance run, in which “Rigoletto” should settle in. yet there will be even more cast modifications than scheduled, right now in which Bryan Hymel has withdrawn by the final eight performances as the duke, citing personal reasons. He will be replaced by no fewer than three different tenors.