OPERA and theatre goers around the world are used to modern-day interpretations of classic works but a Madrid audience was stunned by a new ‘brothel-set’ interpretation of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the city’s Teatro Real.
Boos greeted director Miguel del Arco along with shouts of ‘out’ when he took to the stage for a curtain call.
The anger was not aimed at the singers who were given a hearty ovation.
Audiences saw 15 dancers doing sex acts while the best-known song from the opera, La donna e mobile, was performed by tenor Javier Camarena (in the role of the Duke of Mantua)- describing the provocative women as ‘charming’, ‘elegant’ and ‘deceitful’.
The dancers appeared in the nude towards the end of the production.
There were strong comments uttered by audience members during the intermission like: ‘They were all f—–g’, ‘The red curtains made it look like cheap cabaret’, and ‘This looked like a porn theatre’.
Miguel del Arco said that the right environment for Rigoletto had to be in a brothel, based on Victor Hugo’s book, Le roi s’amuse.
He argued that the plot was all about ugliness and immoral seducers with dark alleys seeing women chased down to be delivered to the king.
The Madrid-born playwright added that he was not bothered by the audience’s angry reaction.
As for the cast, Javier Camarena said he felt comfortable with the new version and he’s looking forward to his whole family from Mexico coming to spend Christmas in Spain to see him perform although he hasn’t considered how appropriate it will be for his young children.
Ludovic Tezier, who plays the court jester, took another view, admitting that there is a need to find new opera audiences, but an ‘opportunity to offer a production for the whole family at Christmas time has been missed’.
The much-celebrated soprano, Adela Zaharia plays Gilda and says she finds the furor absurd.
“I’m from Germany and I’m delighted with this production in which they don’t make me do anything strange.”
Rigoletto runs at Madrid’s Teatro Real until January 2.