Der Reine Tor
SF Opera's 2006-2007 Season

Rigoletto in Prague

K. Jernek's production of Rigoletto at Státní opera Praha is fairly traditional, the costumes looked to be from Renaissance and the set was simple, but not stark. There was a large gold ring hanging above the stage with curtains coming down from it that never seemed to leave the stage, though the curtains would be pulled up and so forth. This blocked some of the background. The staged turned and this facilitated some of the changes of scene. I couldn't quite figure out why the beginning of the first scene features a dancer wearing a brown-hued unitard and scant jewelry, her face painted dark and wearing a short curly black wig. She danced on the table. This was even worse than the last Rigoletto I saw at San Francisco, which had a few dancing ladies in it wearing under-bust corsets without chemises.

As for the singing, only the soprano, Marina Vyskvokina, was better than mediocre. Her voice is cold, bright, and flexible, which is perfectly in vogue at the moment, but also suitable for the part of Gilda. The tenor, Valentin Prolat, had bad timing and was ahead of the orchestra at the very beginning. His voice is overly bright, nasal, and reedy. He was especially bad in the quartet in Act III, his intonation was even off at that point. Too bad his was the most famous aria of the opera. The bass, Lukáš Hynek-Krämer, sounded artificial and also had poor intonation. Thankfully, at least Richard Haan was pretty good in the title role. His voice lacks a bit in fullness, but he acted well.

The audience was possibly the worst-behaved I have witnessed to date. They could not stop taking photographs of the inside of the opera house, although it was stated, in several languages both in spoken and written forms, that such photographs were not allowed. A French girl behind me actually sang along with the Act II overture.