In the new Rigoletto production staged by Glyndebourne on Tour, German stage director Christiane Lutz (the spouse of Jonas Kaufmann, since 2018) has moved the plot from 16th-century Mantua to 1930s Hollywood, where court jester Rigoletto has been turned into Charlie Chaplin while his vicious employer the Duke becomes a film director. The production draw mostly bad press.

The Stage wrote: « Only obliquely referred to in the opera’s text, Monterone’s daughter – an earlier victim of the playboy-seducer – commits suicide onstage in the opening scene, leaving behind a baby daughter whom Rigoletto adopts; there then follows a gap of 17 years envisaged neither by Verdi nor by Hugo.We’re now in 1947. As a young adult, Gilda – in this version not Rigoletto’s daughter, but the Duke’s – is seduced by her own father; though neither of them ever understands their true relationship.The result feels infinitely more complicated than the Victor Hugo/Verdi plot but – despite the newly invented incest – proves far less compelling. »

In the Express one can read: « The defect of the production can be summed up in one question: what do Rigoletto and Charlie Chaplin have in common? The answer, of course, is nothing at all, or at best, very little. Yet in her quest for modern relevance, Lutz sets the story in some sort of Hollywood film studio with the Duke of Mantua as some sort of Harvey Weinstein figure and Rigoletto making his entrance with a Charlie Chaplin impersonation. »

From The Guardian: « Christiane Lutz, making her directorial debut in a work that is also a first for Glyndebourne, introduces so many complications that it becomes almost unrecognisable: we’re in 1920s Hollywood, complete with Rigoletto-as-Chaplin, two doppelgängers whose identities are never entirely clear, and a dumbshow enactment suggesting suicide, baby snatching and incest. »

The Daily Mail published the worst of the reviews:  » The immature and inexperienced young German director Christiane Lutz – the new Mrs Jonas Kaufmann, by the way – makes a total hash of it. (…) Hers is a truly crazy production. Rigoletto becomes Charlie Chaplin, with two other Chaplin doppelgängers hanging around, and a ridiculous old man who strips off (yuk!) during the overture.He’s Rigoletto as an old man, who ends up getting killed by another invented geriatric, this time apparently the Duke (in this a film director) as an oldster. Oh, and also, during the overture, the film director (ie the Duke, keep awake at the back) sires a child who, 17 years later, emerges as Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda. So when the Duke seduces her, he’s committing incest. Lovely jubbly! »

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