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This report is taken from PN Review 266, Volume 48 Number 6, July - August 2022.

At the Opera, and Elsewhere, with Paula Rego Dan Burt
Gilda: Mio Padre!
Rigoletto: A te d’appresso trova
sol gioia il core oppresso.  
Gilda: Oh, Quanto amore, padre mio!    

[My father!
Only with you does my heavy heart find joy.
Oh, my loving father!]

Gilda’s first words, Rigoletto’s reply, when she comes on stage for the first time and rushes into his arms. The octogenarian in the red plush seat beside me, Paula Rego, leans forward, intent. Her father Rigoletto exits, and Gilda begins her famous first solo aria, Gaultier Maldè, a paean to love for a seducer:

GILDA (sola)  
Gualtier Maldû...nome di lui sž amato,
ti scolpisci nel core innamorato!
Caro nome che il mio cor
festi primo palpitar
[le] dell’amor delizie  
mi dši sempre rammentar!

[Gilda (alone)
Walter Maldû`name of the man I love
be thou engraved upon my lovesick heart!
Beloved name, the first to move
the pulse of love within my heart  
thou shalt remind me ever
of the delights of love!]

Paula is rapt, and remains so until the curtain falls on Rigoletto’s howl of pain, his dead daughter’s half sacked body cradled in his arms. Paula dabs tears meandering down her face before the principals take their bows.

That performance several years ago was the last of perhaps three Rigolettos over fifteen years Paula and I watched together at the ROH, she as my guest, before creeping frailty as she aged cost ...


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