SABC2 has acquired the exclusive television rights to screen Verdi’s opera Rigoletto on Sunday, 19 October at 21:00.

The acclaimed opera by Guiseppe Verdi with libretto by Franscesco Maria Piave is based on the novel Le roi s’amuse by Victor Hugo. The opera is in three acts and is sung in Italian. The broadcast is a local version of the opera, with English subtitles. It was performed by Cape Town Opera in the Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone, Cape Town, earlier this year.

The television recording was done by Willem Vogel as the Multicamera Director. Vogel recorded and edited the story according to his own interpretation of the drama’s narrative development, while the lighting and selection of shots is entirely different to those of the original stage production. Vogel explains, “For television, the lighting, camera angles and set-up as well as the sound recording is just as important as the performances”.

Marcus Desando was the stage director, and he decided to set the opera in modern-day South Africa, in order to reach a wider and more diverse, as well as younger, audience. The opera’s themes of treachery, mayhem, corruption, abduction, gangs, drugs, rape and murder are as relevant today as in the 19th Century.

Rigoletto"s title role is occupied by Fikile Mvinjelwa, one of the country’s foremost baritones, and he is supported by SAMRO International Singing-winner Nokrismesi Skota as Gilda and Sipho Fubesi as The Duke of Mantua.

According to Desando, “I would like to see the growth of African operas being in the forefront of local opera companies’ production line-ups. The exposure of opera to the rest of the country needs to be approached with all possible media support we can get; in this instance, we are very excited about the great support SABC2 is affording us. My focus lies in using TV to educate the country about opera as a form of storytelling and hopefully generate an interest that will lead public to buy more tickets to watch the actual stage productions”.

The opera was performed at the Teatro Fenice in Venice for the first time on 11 March 1851. It went through a surfeit amount of censorship before its opening night, but the opera was a form of rebellion by Verdi, who was commenting on the corrupt system of the time.

Catch Rigoletto on Sunday, 19 October at 21:00. The opera is the first of many that will be screened by SABC2. Please note that the production has an age restriction of 13 due to the simulation of explicit sex scenes.