OPERA REVIEW: “Rigoletto” @ the Colonial Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Fred Baumgarten
For nearly three hours last Saturday afternoon, you could hear a pin drop inside the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield at the Berkshire Opera Festival’s presentation of Verdi’s classic tragedy, Rigoletto. That, and the sounds of splendid music, which the audience drank in with rapt attention.
So good was this performance that a five-minute standing ovation would have gone on for ten had not the cast waved farewell and beat a final retreat. It is not every day you get to hear a group of world-class singers in the Berkshires, or anywhere else for that matter.
Let’s start with our title character, played by the Romanian-born baritone Sebastian Catana. Rigoletto is the court jester, or fool, to the Duke of Mantua, whose bitterness at his deformity (generally depicted as a hunchback) and obsessive protectiveness of his daughter, Gilda, set the terrible events in motion.
With credits at the Met and elsewhere, Catana proved a definitive Rigoletto. His voice has untapped power combined with touching lyricism.
As Gilda, the sheltered daughter who longs to experience the world – and love – American soprano Maria Valdes was revelatory. Though occasionally slight at the lower end of its range, her voice soared with control and grace through both lyrical and coloratura passages, and her top notes gleamed. Here’s hoping this talented young singer goes far!