In 2012, director Michael Cavanagh staged a bold production of Giuseppe Verdi’s classic opera Rigoletto for the Hamilton Opera in Ontario.
He moved the setting from the 16th-century northern Italy palace of Duke of Mantua to steel-tower corporate headquarters in modern day. The titular character was transformed from a hunchbacked court jester to the company’s boardroom cutup.
It was bold, but hardly the boldest reboot of Verdi’s famously grim and beautifully scored tale. Last year, The Metropolitan Opera shifted the action to Las Vegas circa 1960, recasting the licentious Duke as a lecherous lounge singer and Rigoletto as an insult-tossing comedian from his entourage. In the early 1980s, Jonathan Miller famously set the opera in the bloody world of organized crime in New York’s Little Italy during the 1950s. One recent production in Munich had the whole sordid tale surface on the Planet of the Apes.