Rigoletto is an opera the marks the beginning of a new style of composing for Verdi. It is a work filled with invention, but the end of Act 2 reprises the Verdi of Nabucco and Ernani. Just belt it out and sweep the audience away. Of course, no one sings the concluding duet between Rigoletto and his hormone crazed teen aged daughter the way Verdi wrote it. It usually ends with a high note for the soprano followed by another high note from the baritone. If you want to see the ending of this act the way Verdi wrote it look at the final bars of Act 2 from the vocal score – they’re at the end of this piece. Click on it for a bigger picture.
I’ll begin with ‘Compiuto pur quanto’ uttered by Rigoletto just before Monterone enters on his way to his execution. He’s distraught that no one has struck down his daughter’s seducer. Rigoletto now in the same paternal situation vows to do the job. Gilda, Rigoletto’s abused daughter, decides that her rape wasn’t so bad and begs her father to spare the dastardly duke because she loves him, but to no avail. He’s determined to have vengeance.
To start, three versions with Leonard Warren who was the definitive Rigoletto of my experience. The first excerpt is from a 1945 Met performance. Bidu Sayão is Gilda. Act 2 finale Warren Sayao. Next is from a 1951 Met performance. Hilde Güden is Gilda Act 2 finale Warren Güden. The final Warren version is from the 1950 complete recording of the opera. Gilda is Erna Berger. Act 2 finale Warren Berger. In this clip both singers take their concluding high notes simultaneously.
Tito Gobbi was famous throughout the operatic world for his interpretation of Rigoletto. He only sang the role one time at the Met. This recording is taken from the complete opera released by EMI (it was called Angel at the time the opera was first released on LP discs). Maria Callas is Gilda. Act 2 finale Gobbi Callas
Ettore Bastianini has a big, dark, and beautiful baritone, though he began his career as a bass. His high notes were often forced which prevented him from reaching the heights of Warren and MacNeil (see below). He never sang Rigoletto at the Met. He did sing it elsewhere. He’s in great voice in this 1960 recording of the opera with the very young Renata Scotto as Gilda. Act 2 finale Bastianini Scotto
Cornell MacNeil sang Rigoletto an astounding 104 times at the Met – the house record. At his best, the first half of his career, he was a force of nature with volcanic high notes that drove audiences mad. Reri Grist is Gilda on the excerpt taken from a complete recording of the opera. Act 2 finale MacNeil Grist
Finally, here’s June Anderson and the ageless Leo Nucci who is still singing Verdi operas at major house despite his 74 years. Act 2 finale Nucci Anderson