Rigoletto reviews

October 2017



Jack – Ann Arbor

In general it was a good production with good singing and excellent acting from the singers. Although I’d probably prefer to see Rigoletto cast as a jester rather than a bartender, I still commend MOT for the taking the risk and bringing us this well-known alternate staging. MOT has added to the breadth of our opera knowledge. Thank you!


Anne McCulloch – Royal Oak

Love this opera….would have appreciated this performance more if it was in it’s original timeframe.


Dr. Darren Lawson – Greenville, SC

Kudos to the entire cast and production team on a superb Rigoletto. The soloists and chorus were outstanding in their singing and character interpretations. The modern mob setting created a new and relevant lens through which the audience could enjoy the story. This was my first experience with Michigan Opera Theatre, and I sincerely hope it will not be my last.


Dee – Farmington Hills

Thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Wonderfully done


Bar Will – Warren

Wonderful production! The update to 1950s NYC worked for me. I remember reading about the Jonathan Miller production when it was first introduced; I really appreciate Stephen Lord’s bringing it to MOT. I think MOT audiences need and deserve as many non-traditional productions as the budget will allow. I saw the Sunday matinee cast, and it amazed me how everything jelled for the single performance. Great work!


Sally – Fenton

We loved it! Voices were beautiful. Nicholas Pallesen and Hae Ji Chang’s duets were wonderful, balanced. We wondered whether other performers could be as good. It was a leap to move to NYC, but it worked. I like the period setting a little better. I did not think the smoking added anything and was a distraction, but it was in keeping with the Mafia theme. We enjoy seeing such fresh performances at MOT.


Richard Weiermiller – Grand Blanc

This was a fresh look at Rigoletto in its modern setting. It was a success. After all it is the music more than the setting that makes Rigoletto one of the best operas ever written and the music was presented exceptionally well with the voices of Hae Ji Chang, John Bellemer and especially Nicholas Pallesen. Bravo to MOT for another winner!


Dr. Al Utecht – Livonia

GREAT. Voices – So beautiful wether with soloists or chorus.
Our friends agreed So great the performance that we
didn’t notice the length or the performance. How about


John Dreifuus – Farmington Hills

I attended the Oct. 22 performance. The singing was great. Your Rigoletto was outstanding. However I didn’t like the staging. The opera does not take
place in the 20th century.


tcmaas – Farmington Hills

Fantastic at every level! Gilda’s voice is out of this world! I loved the 1950’s mob setting and the diversity of the performers. Absolutely magical!


jay Monroe – Royal Oak

Hard to forget the voice of Hae Ji Chang as Gilda. It was spectacular. Between Verdi and Puccini it’s a Italian wrap up.


Mia Holley – Detroit

Oh my gosh! Where to begin! I left feeling totally elated! That was the best season opener for me to date! From the fantastic Orchestra with special attention to the scores/music in Act 3 to the deeply impassioned voice of Rigoletto as he pleas with the Dukes men to release his daughter…. My heart was beyond moved in this Opera! I felt Rigoletto’s frustration, pain and desperation as he made futile attempts to have his daughter released and the men only mocked him further….. The most genius part of the Opera for me was in Act 3 I believe, when all on state were singing, “Awe come to me…” and each one for someone else! The Duke was singing it for assassin’s sister to come to him, Rigoletto was singing it for his daughter to come to him and Gilda was singing it for the Duke to “come to her!” Music at it’s finest! It was truly music at it’s finest! 🙂


Alice – Ypsilanti

The murder/storm scene with the rolling tympani and wind machine blowing debris down the alley was very dramatic. So much Michigan talent in this production! Inspiring sets and the voices! Not only great voices but the acting was also superb. One of the best productions.


Ida – Chesterfield

A production disappointment for me as I don’t think that Verdi meant his brilliant opera to be updated. That being said-the voices were superb along with orchestra and sets. Had I known before ticket purchase that this was “The Godfather ” revisited I would not have gone but then I would have missed this great performance.


Christos Kyrtsakas – Windsor

We came for the Sunday matinee. Excellent production, performance memorable. Gilda’s voice was breathtaking and Rigoletto was mesmerizing


Harriet S – Detroit

This was the best performance of Rigoletto that I can remember seeing – and I’ve certainly seen at least 6 – including ones set in the original time/setting, one set in Las Vegas, and this one brought to NYC in the 1950’s. The somber simple setting (rather than courtly costumed palace) created a great background for the superb singing by all three of the principal artists – and the others as well, including those “nasty people” (in terms of the plot) in the chorus. I wish there were more performances so I could recommend it to others who I know would have enjoyed it. Thank you MOT, Stephen Lord, Elaine Tyler-Hall and Susan Mallare Acton – and of course the wonderful singers – for creating such a memorable evening!


Bill – Detroit

Well done


Deb – South Lyon

Outstanding. Gilda was superb., makes me wonder how good the first Gilda was is she was 2nd place. Her voice was outstanding, strong , sensitive . WE loved the opera. Rigaletto was wonderful as well as the Duke (* tho a slimy character~) wonderful!


Joseph Derkowski – Milford

Absolutely wonderful voices and music. However, if an “updated” version is the only version one has seen, it leaves a feeling that something is missing.


Brian Murphy – Rochester Hills

Absolutely fabulous production and performance of one of the greatest of all operas. Orchestra was both subtle and powerful.


Sam – Troy

The Orchestra was outstanding!! The singers were terrific. The stage sets are always great! I didn’t care for the Opera being updated. It lost some of it’s impact.


Tuğba Topal – Ann Arbor

Fabulous performance with awesome voices!!
And 18th centuries piece with modern touch. Astonishing!!


Richard de Bea – Plymouth

We loved it and left the opera house humming the familiar arias. The singer who sang the role of Gilda on Sunday was really wonderful and bringing the setting up to the 20th century in no way changed our enjoyment of the familiar story line. I specially liked the set for Act 3 which looked like a Hopper painting come to life. Congratulations!


Isiah – Belleville

Great show. Glad it was done in the 20th century. Guaranteed to go see every time I can.


David Potter – Ann Arbor

Superb performance, the transition to the twentieth century (which I don’t tend to like) worked by focusing attention to the psychological issues of the plot on a human scale . Hae Ji Chang was a splendid Gilda, John Bellemer’s count was nuanced and delightfully sung, while Nicholas Pallesen’s Rigoletto brought out the tragic and self destructive aspects of his character brilliantly. The orchestra sounded great!


Mad4puccini – Plymouth

Have never seen Rigoletto before so we didn’t miss the traditional version. 1961 NY seemed to work well. Sets were wonderful andrhedrama and singing were great all around Orchestra was super as always! Bows at the end seemed a little wacky with principals first and no show by the chorus (who were great!)


Roz Lullove Cooperman – Bloomfield Hills

Rigoletto was an incredible example of the talent and commitment of the MOT to staging amazing opera performances. We were all deeply invested in the music, the voices, the cast, the 1050’s time frame, and the power of the performance!
The physical attributes of capturing both story line and movement on stage brought an authenticity that just lingers…bravo.
What a season opener!!!!

Barb – Novi

Fantastic ! Too bad it is too late for others to go.


Andrew Bemish – Northville

I liked the “Mob” costuming and setting in New York City. My overall opinion: SUPERB!


Daniela Natcheva – Troy

Excellent performance! Everyone in my group enjoyed it!


Julia – Royal Oak

Great production: great music (of course), amazing singing and acting! And modern take on this opera worked really well! My friends and I loved every minute of it.



One if the better opera performances seenlately at the DOH.
Captivting from start to finish!


Nicola – Brighton

Wasn’t sure about the 1950’s setting at first, but found it entertaining as the opera progressed. Sparafucile’s bar location was excellent. Pity the orchestra still gets a little over enthusiastic at moments of high passion and drowns out the singing. Gilda and Rigoletto’s duets were wonderful, as was the quartet in the final scene.


Tom and Marie Klaban – West Bloomfield

Rigoletto is full of wonderful music and superb duets and solos. The sets were very well constructed and depicted the modern period perfectly. The men chorus complemented the soloists and added to the character of the opera. We were moved by the joy and the sadness, and we were captivated by all of the casts amazing voices.


Mel – Bloomfield Twp

A SUPERB performance. The soloists were outstanding with no weak links. The setting was unique and brought a whole new believable aspect to the story line. Best Rigoletto in years.


Karen S – Bloomfield Hills

Loved it all! The leads were spectacular! The orchestra phenomenal! It is nice to see a new take on set design. If you haven’t seen it, go!


Jody B. – W. Bloomfield

A stunning and wonderful production. The voices were incredible (especially Gilda’s) and they blended beautifully. I love the ’50s staging and the sets. The orchestra played very well… this was a terrific night at the opera!!


Dina Soresi Winter – Grosse Pointe

This is a production worth seeing. Bring your teenagers to the performance. The setting and updating may make a difference in how they look at the world of Opera. You, yourselves may find a fascinating
approach in this Mafia imbued story. The Duke of Mantua is a Mafia Boss with powers which men fear, but he knows how to make himself loved and trusted by lovely young girls and older women. The story of a broken – hearted, teenager, who loves the man who deceived her so much, that she dies to save his life, is a deeply moving theme of young idealistic love which can take place in any era.
It is intriguing to consider that this modern, updated version may touch a chord in the youngsters of today more than was ever possible in the traditional version which brings us back to another era of dissolute palaces and kings. Try it out. The music is wonderful; the singers excellent. It will be a new and enlivening experience.. And a very moving one.


Lorainska – Rochester Hills

FANTASTIC-BEAUTIFUL-OUTSTANDING. Wherever the idea was first thought of / Whoever first thought of the idea — The ‘stopping’ of the jukebox was 101% clever ____and the audience as you see agreed. Michigan Opera Theatre does a MAGNIFICENT job. Our beloved city of Detroit is on the ‘rise’ and is coming back. 🙂 All hope is for the MOT to continue to be a great part of that rebirth.df

James Mowdy – San Francisco

From my original Instagram post found at https://www.instagram.com/p/BaaTnrahgGy/?taken-by=jamesjetsoften Thank you and Bravi Tutti! | Expectations for @michiganopera’s 2017/8 season opener with @englishnationalopera’s 1950s “Little Italy” Rigoletto were high. I’d heard of Jonathan Miller’s landmark 1982 interpretation, so to see it, led by Maestro #StephenLord, made a trip to #Detroit a must-do. Dear friend @piccolomini.mezzo is #Maddalena, a signature role for her; #Michigan #Opera Theatre marks her 8th time as the bar maid from hell, including productions at Chicago’s @lyricopera and @santafeopera. Who knew that the visual feast of this production could feel fresh and relatable 35 years later!? The Duke of Mantua (Josh Guerrero) as our rat-pack mafia don, holds court in a high-rise club with his henchmen and their ladies. #Rigoletto (Roland Wood) as the club’s bartender, lives in a tenement apartment with his secret daughter Gilda (So Young Park). For me, Roland’s portrayal is something to behold (and cry over). At the post performance party, l had the pleasure of telling Joshua that his Duke was “definitely ‘that’ guy,” thrilled he will be Pinkerton in Santa Fe Opera’s 2018 #MadameButterfly. 🙌🏼✨🎶 Also a delight to meet and thank Miss Park for her gorgeous Gilda. 🙏🏼 IMHO, the quality of the #BellaFigliadellamore quartet is a tell. I was thrilled to hear Nicole’s powerful mezzo-soprano anchor the multi-fach vocal gymnastics (a great sing for her!) but ***everyone*** was heard and enjoyed, perfect balance and skill, how this quartet is supposed to sound and be sung. Sparafucile, Maddalena’s murderous brother, is sung by former @metopera fight captain Christian Zambela. Great voice/presence, we discussed the career twists that led him to singing (and Tosca at #MetOpera this NYE). Glad I was able to meet/thank the Bay Area’s awesome @kkelloggbasso for his Monterone, too. Also great to catch up/extend thanks to former #sfoapprentices @erikvanblerp @brelyse2686 & @hcg3873 singing Count Ceprano, Giovanna, and Marullo. As #MOTStudioArtists, they brought so much to their roles, with great things upcoming. ⚡️⚡️⚡️TWO perfs remain this weekend 21/22OCT. Visit @michiganopera for tickets/patron reviews. BRAVI TUTTI! | The 2017 #MOT Fall Opera Season is made possible by the @Ford Motor Company.



Tickets, info

Sister – Detroit

I go to the opera because my sister loves it, and I’ve only seen a few I’d attend again. This production was drop-dead gorgeous from all POVs — great voices and characters, superb staging and art direction, and, well, Verdi. The jukebox moment would go viral if posted, no doubt.

Mary Taitt – Grosse Pointe Farms

What a fabulous Opera and production! Oh my, one of the best ever, in my opinion. I loved it! The music was beautiful and well-performed, the presentation, staging, costumes and scenery were terrific!

Dr. William D Grasty – Detroit

I truly enjoyed the entire performance. The voices were outstandingly clear and beautiful. The orchestra was especially enjoyed with the clarity of the flute and clarinet solos, along with the remaining instrumentation. GREAT.

Mary Mazure – Rochester Hills

In many ways a production to elicit much thought. The updating opened the meaning. I loved the 3 father/daughter duets. Verdi at his best. The audience were all in awe over Ms Park’s voice and presence. Thank you to all.

Bud Liebler – Bloomfield Hills

Outstanding staging and incredibly beautiful voices. Gilda’s voice brings tears to your eyes and Rigoletto’s sadness breaks your heart. We loved the move to the 20th century. Well done!

A. Lopez – Plymouth

In one word: OUTSTANDING! This performance of Rigoletto was the best we have seen. The principles and supporting voices were in top shape, absolutely beautiful, absolutely outstanding. Add to this the staging, the creative placement of the opera in more modern times and, of course, the talented voices of the chorus and you have an opera that shouldn’t…can’t…be missed. Verdi lovers will LOVE this performance of Rigoletto.

Eileen – Boston

Wow! Amazing cast and such a fun contemporary version. Loved the sets.

Barb – Bloomfield Township

We just loved the whole performance. Do not miss this one. The music, voices, sets, staging and orchestra all provided an exceptional modern version of this beloved opera. Splendid in every way thanks to Michigan Opera theatre!

Tom S. – Roseville

Overall a great performance. All characters were excellent, the singing and acting superb, and Stephen Lord did a great job with the orchestra. My favorite part was the different setting: it fit perfectly into the 1950’s Little Italy and the Mafia scene.

Dan – Rochester Hills

Verdi is a genius. Extraordinary arias, duets, trios and quartets are all parts of this wonderful work. Ms. Park has a beautiful crystalline soprano that is delightful. And Mr. Wood has an espresso-rich baritone which pairs perfectly with Ms. Park. Now the elephant in the room – I tend to be an originalist when it comes to the fine arts. I do not care for Shakespeare that takes place in the dessert southwest or a concert pianist who thinks they know better than Brahms on how his music is supposed to sound. (Real experiences) As far as this work goes, I do not see the benefit of moving it into the 20th century. The basic premise – “the Curse” is a 19th century idea, not a 1950’s idea. And there are inevitably anachronisms that distract. I get it that the producer was reminded of the mafia when he saw the opera, but does he have to hit me over the head with it? This is not that valuable an insight. BUT … Verdi is a genius and the vocalists are first rate. Go and see this … you will love the art no matter where or when you think it should take place.

Ann Steslicke – Ferndale

Just returned home from the performance. Loved it! All strong and beautiful voices. The update worked well. So glad I brought two guests who raved about it also.

Ed Dagnes – Ann Arbor

Like the mournful trumpet melody beginning The Godfather film, Verdi’s own ominous brass opening places us perfectly in a mob ‘court’ in gritty 1950s New York. The dramatic tropes and themes in this setting are so much more effective than a stuffy historic revival; one hopes we never ‘go backwards’ but find modern settings for the Jester. A riveting ‘Cortigiani’ by Joshua Guerrero and scene-stealing acting by Nicole Piccolomini as Sparafucile’s moll were a delight. I did not care for the stage direction of Elaine Tyler-Hall which ‘stranded’ a lifeless Gilda and Rigoletto during the Quartet. Others have commented about chemistry between Guerrero and Park, but Park seemed detached and unable to act to fully inhabit the role of Gilda, in my view.

Margaret – Grosse Pointe

It was excellent all around – the change of setting was effective, but really didn’t matter since the drama of the plot and music was what mattered. The singing and acting were gripping!

Larry E. Powe – Birmingham

Gilda was phenomenal!!!!!

CorinneO – Bingham Farms

This production of Rigoletto was sensational. The leads (Rigoletto, his daughter and the Duke) all did a fabulous job. The orchestra sounded great as did the all male chorus. I loved the sets plus the lighting was superb. MOT scored another great success.

Thomas Taylor – Ann Arbor

The Miller sets and staging are still working very well. good cast – they got into it with appropriate voice and physicality. We’ve seen this version before – was it at MOT? Or maybe the ENO?
Orchestra was good other than a few ragged entrances.
Sorry there are getting to be so many empty seats these days. Might it be the higher prices?

Phil – Detroit

A beautiful and exciting version of a timeless tale. The artists were wonderful, the set awesome, the music divine. Thank you MOT and ENO for a luminous production!

Stella – Windsor

I really liked it a lot. I did not know it would be a modern version actually and was looking forward to the old version, but I was pleasantly surprised. The cast was very good especially Rigoletto and Gilda. I grew up with my grandfather singing me arias from different operas and I have a profound love for the old opera but I have to admit giving it “refreshed look to an old beauty” it brings it back stronger than before.
It was a special night for us, my sister and my mom LOVED it as well. Great job.
Looking forward to the rest of the season.

Dorothy – Dearborn

IT ALL WORKED! We had a most enjoyable evening. Where to begin? The music, the instruments, the voices, the chorus, the scenes, everything was delightful. Maybe the purists didn’t appreciate the evening but I did. Thanks.

keg – Rochester Hills

A marvelous way to spend Saturday night! The opera was innovative and well done. The maestro was spot on with the orchestra. Those in the orchestra followed with perfection. The voices of the stars were superb. The men’s chorus was fantastic.
The intermission buffet was so appreciated. Thank you to the two who hosted. They went an extra mile to give the patrons a nice treat.

Alexandra – Royal Oak

So wonderful! I was prepared to not like the modern version. It worked so well! My 12-year-old companion probably would have enjoyed the costumes from the original When we left, we were satisfied, impressed, and anxious to return for more performances.

Louis Marinaro – Ann Arbor

It was a spectacular performance of a very powerful opera. The orchestra as usual was perfect. Thank you for all the great work.

SDoncov – Trenton

Our first Italian opera. The opera was well done to me. The adaptation was well done. The musics was great, It was a great evening for us. Having seen this type of opera now, I prefer ones with a mixture of chorus and dialogue and sung in English. Looking forward to the remaining performances to come this year! Thanks.

Carl Fontana – Huntington Woods

A departure from the usual setting, however all the elements of passion, deceit, betrayal and tragedy are found in this very entertaining “Rigoletto”. Mr. Roland Wood’s range and control never faltered. Exquisite is how both he and Ms. Park’s Guilda voices were as they filled the house. The orchestra under Steven Lord was brilliant. I hope to see it a second time during this run.

Nicole – Mt. Clemens

Wonderful! So Young Park was outstanding!

Adrian J. Christie, MD – Birmingham

My wife and I attended the opening performance, previously unaware that it was a modern version originally presented in the U.K. where we are from (and still have a home in Wales). We loved every minute of it, voices and orchestra were outstanding and our pleasure was compounded by the information in the program that Roland Wood- Rigoletto- will be in La Traviata next fall with the Welsh National Opera. We plan to be there!

Peg – Redford

The singing was wonderful. But the modern story line had holes in it where it just didn’t make sense. Would have preferred the original opera.

Adrienne L. – South Lyon

Raving compliments to all who collaborated in this production. Masterfully handled in every aspect. Verdi’s genius shines…in all the wonderful melodies of the arias, duets, and chorus. The orchestra was outstanding. So Young Park and Roland Wood were fabulous in their roles, and we hope to have them be here again. We’re usually disappointed to see opera performed in a modern setting but this one was expertly done and actually made us realize that we were concentrating more on the singing and music by not being distracted by lavish sets and costumes, although we still hope to see the traditional settings in other productions. “Bravo’s ” article by Michael Yashinsky provided great insight on this production. Outstanding and one of the best!

Dr. Shirley Faust – Troy

This was an outstanding experience! The singing was superior, and I especially enjoyed Gilda’s voice. I liked very much how it was brought into modern times, and it was especially fitting for this story. I will let everyone know that they must come to this opera!

Tatyana – Oak Park

Great show!! The father-daughter chemistry between Mr. Wood and Ms. Park (together with their great singing and Verdi’s music) was such that for the first time in many Rigoletto’s I’ve seen I was moved to tears! I was not opposed to modernization, yet was skeptical a little, but I think it worked very well. Thank you, Detroit Opera!

Toby – Birmingham

 I thoroughly enjoyed this production of Verdi’s Rigoletto. Having seen other productions of this outstanding opera, I was already familiar with the beautiful score, and was especially delighted by the superb voices of the artists coupled with believable acting, interesting stage direction and strong orchestral performance.
The 1950’s New York setting added a new dimension, without altering the timeless values and passions of this opera. Kudos to Conductor Stephen Lord and Director Elaine Tyler-Hall.
The 50’s costumes played very well. They were not the exquisite historical renditions of court life in a very different era , that I love to see. But they portrayed and developed the characters appropriately. This was not high society. It all worked.
Thank you for this very fine, cohesive production.

Eleanor – Harrison Twp.

Beautiful music, gifted artists and a wonderful orchestra ! Wonderful!
(But…..the setting, sets and costumes just didn’t fly and were, in fact, a distraction)

Jim Prowse – Bloomfield Hills

Patti and I truly enjoyed this marvelous opera in its updated 1950’s setting. The lead performances were outstanding. One suggestion, if you are unfamiliar with the plot, spend a few minutes on Wikipedia. The original identity of Rigoletto, as court jester to a Duke, does not quite translate to Rigoletto as a wise cracking waiter in a Mafioso’s saloon. Once understood though, no problem. The opera’s theme, the tragedy of strong men exploiting vulnerable women, could not be more timely. Don’t miss this wonderful MOT production of an opera classic.

ON – Detroit

Hate the old style bows. No acknowledgement of the fine work of male chorus members. Inexcusable.

Marilyn – Ecorse

It was awesome! I enjoyed the performances and the set design. Great seats and acoustics.

Mary – West Bloomfield

Great. I was prepared to dislike modern treatment of an old favorite but found the opposite to be the case. Kudos to all.

Bill Betz – Clinton Twp

Great singing and acting, especially Gilda and Rigoletto and also the Count. Super orchestra and the settings were great. Having seen Rigoletto twice before we were disappointed that it was brought into the 20th century. I suppose that the costumes may have come from Sears and Roebuck and not from Malibar. We don’t agree with bringing classic opera into modern times, but considering that it was done, it couldn’t have been done better. It was much better than we had anticipated.

Susanna – Grosse Pointe Park

Moving and powerful performance.

SharonL – Bloomfield Hills

Fabulous performance, cleverly updated setting, with amazing voices. Would highly recommend!

Nancy R – West Bloomfield Township

Excellent cast with beautiful voices. Orchestra was also excellent. Well done MOT!!

Wendell Wood – Battle Creek

It has been some years since I treated my wife and I to an opera. I’m pleased that Rigoletto was the one I chose. Towering music, play thied with passion and the vocalist met every expectation. Great control, delicate and yet powerful and carefully nuanced. What a delight! And then the story—life’s story, heroic and tragic, cruel and evil, love and hate. And our poor Rigoletto—the curse of revenge takes him down. The sacrifice of Gilda for a love that was unworthy, and the reality that evil sometimes lives on…without conscience. Thoughtful without moralizing. Human passions take us where we do not want to go. And without question, we see ourselves, sometimes painfully, but clearly…in the passions of those who through music and song, skill and passion, tell the story that touches our souls.

Dr. Edward Treisman – Bloomfield Hills

My wife and I along with a son and daughter-in-law attended the opening night. I forgot that the modern version would be presented and at first had a negative reaction. However, as the opera unfolded I found it very enjoyable and of course the voices were absolutely beautiful. We all feel like we would enjoy seeing it again. Even the rain did not dampen our enthusiasm for the performance and the entire evening.