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Rigoletto has all the great building blocks of a top selling A-list film: revenge, lust, betrayal and, well, some characters that are downright Hollywood with a capital H. We’re not naming any names, but The Duke, a lecherous abuser of power reminds us of a few people who have been in the news of late.
The film Taken for example could be the most comparable with a kidnapped virginal daughter, a father on the path to revenge and her honour at stake; on the verge of being human trafficked and her virtue sold to the highest bidder. Those with power demanding what they want and how they want it, although in the film Liam Neeson’s character manages to stop the inevitable, in the opera Rigoletto isn’t that fortunate.
While you may not think Disney, Pixar and opera have much in common, the story of Finding Nemo, a father’s search for his son is reminiscent of Rigoletto’s desperate hunt for the kidnapped Gilda and Beauty and the Beast draws strong parallels as a loving daughter foregoing her freedom for another. Gilda’s questionable self-sacrifice for the faithless Duke evokes memories of Bruce Willis staying behind to detonate the earth bound asteroid in Armageddon although his sacrifice is for a much worthier cause saving human race instead of a serial philanderer.
Even the TV show Stranger Things could be seen as similar, not just the dark tone but Winona Ryder’s character doing everything in her power to protect her son from the horrifying monster from the Upside Down World. In the third series who can forget Chief Jim Hopper fiercely over protective over his adopted daughter Eleven although, again, not as bad as Rigoletto who completely isolates Gilda reminding us more of Princess Fiona in Shrek.
Throughout history men have often used whatever means possible to win the love of their desired so The Duke isn’t the first person to use a disguise to seduce his conquest. However disguise is always a brilliant plot twist such as in the remakes of Shakespearean classics She’s the Man and Shakespeare in Love. In the opera Gilda falls for what she thinks is a penniless student although in our version The Duke is revamped and masquerading as a pilot, Gilda obviously a sucker for a man in uniform. After all no love story is complete without failed attempts at romance and botched disguises.
Rigoletto encompasses all of the greatest themes that create a best-selling blockbuster but linking all these together is the unbeatable bond of family and the precious nature of the father and daughter relationship. Ultimately the lust for revenge and of course the horrifying conclusion beats any dramatic twist you’ve seen recently. If you like any of the films mentioned above we promised you’ll love Rigoletto, so come and see some Hollywood magic on the stage.