Date 7th July 2017
Society Bath Opera
Venue Rondo Theatre, Bath
Type of Production Touring opera
Director Alexandra Denman
Musical Director Peter Blackwood
Choreographer -


Author: Dee Way

This was the final performance of the tour, presented within a small and intimate theatre, which gave the audience a real sense of involvement in the story. As a touring production, obviously the production required built-in adaptability. Hence the staging, lighting and props were simple but very effective, and the accompaniment on piano and keyboard and the lighting was straightforward.

The direction of the opera drew out the themes of the story very clearly and produced an animated and very emotional and engaging piece of theatre. The flow of scenes was smooth, with the occasional entrances from the upper level and the lower level auditorium provided interest and engagement. The staging was well planned, with three narrow curtains acting as divisions between rooms, the house and the street and the inn. The lighting on the curtains was particularly effective. The only small problem here was the screening of the action by the centre curtain during the beginning of Act 2 from one section of the audience. Perhaps a lighter, more translucent curtain could have been used or the curtain lifted away for that section? However, the casting of the main characters was excellent.

The stage management was smoothly organised, with little interruption of the opera for scene changes, as the curtains were simply tied or untied. Mostly, the small adjustments to the set were made by the cast. This worked very well. However, there was a bit of an awkward moment in the removal of chairs in the second Act, but this only served to show up the effectiveness of the other changes. The stage props were very well handled.

Having the piano and keyboard on the side of the stage worked very well in keeping the music and singers co-ordinated. The music was well played and sung, with some wonderful moments of deep emotion. Just at times the accompaniment was a little sparse, but this was understandable given the nature of the production.

The costumes were fitting to a modern dress version of the opera. The use of full-length petticoats was good, and the raincoat for Gilda worked well. The slightly exotic look for Sparafucile was very good. The way that Rigoletto had only painted eyebrows to suggest his clown character was ingenious, as they took so little time to remove once he stepped out of that role. The costume for Gilda was very appropriate and the play with the spectacles was well thought through. Were they symbols of her clarity of vision and understanding?

Lighting for the production was fairly simple but effective, with the lights across the stage and on the curtaining giving these varying effects. The lightning was lovely!  It was also admirable that while the lighting enhanced the production, it did not distract from the action at all. The use of torches in the night scene was a very inventive yet realistic touch.

However, what was most impressive to me, apart form the excellent vocal quality of the singers, was the clarity of the diction throughout. It was a joy to be able to hear the libretto easily without struggling to understand the words. The opening chorus of Act 2 was beautiful!