“Opera Unbound” is the slogan for Opera Omaha’s 2014-2015 season, and the company successfully let loose with vibrant, contrasting visual and musical colors in its season’s first production, Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, on October 17. A co-production with Boston Lyric Opera and Atlanta Opera, this Rigoletto was set in its original historical context, depicting a world where absolute rulers have absolute power over life and death. The scenic design by John Conklin, vibrantly lit by designer Robert Wierzel, featured a white marble replica of an ideal city taken from a Piero della Francesca painting, set above large walls creating “a dark pit where love, lust and revenge fuel the city.” The dark walls were brightened by a fractured Italian-style painting of Mars and Venus that symbolized the conflict within Rigoletto, trapped between his desire for vengeance against the Duke and his love for his daughter. Costume designer Victoria Tzykun crafted spectacular, colorful period clothes, among them the Duke’s gilded costume and Rigoletto’s blood red jester’s outfit in Act I, and a stunning vibrant blue cloak worn by Gilda in Act III.
The musical colors and expressive details were just as impressive. Led by conductor Steven White, the Omaha Symphony Orchestra provided full yet sensitive support and freedom to the singers. This was most apparent with Argentine baritone Fabiàn Veloz who sang the role of Rigoletto, marking his North American professional opera debut. In Act I his voice was warm and pleasing; by Act III it was brilliantly rich. The sensitivity with which…(more)