Last updateFri, 06 Nov 2015 4pm

International cast headlines unrelentingly dark opera

The Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra kicks off its 2015 opera season with an acclaimed Verdi work that features a court jester in the title role but is far from funny. 

The depressing themes of “Rigoletto,” in which everything that can possibly go wrong does go wrong, will undoubtedly not dissuade Guadalajara or lakeside opera lovers from packing the Teatro Degollado for the four performances beginning Sunday, November 1, 6 p.m.

While local talent is generally eschewed in top-drawer Guadalajara operas, the men of the Jalisco State Choir, directed by Sergio Hernandez, will participate. In two other important roles, Mexican mezzo-soprano Cassandra Zoe Velasco sings Maddalena and Mexico City baritone Enrique Angeles Monterone.

Two other Mexicans are generating high anticipation for this production of “Rigoletto,” Stage Director Ragnar Conde and Set Designer Luis Manuel “Mosco” Aguilar, acclaimed for his imaginative designs. The two worked together to great acclaim in last season’s operas and singer Debbie Matthew, who performed under Conde’s direction then, counts him as “one of the best stage directors I’ve ever worked with.”

Of the international cast, baritone Michael Chioldi, who grew up in an Italian-American family, is said to have a wonderful voice and presence, while Cuban soprano Eglise Gutiérrez promises to bring her wide experience to the challenging role of Gilda, Rigoletto’s daughter who is “ruined” by the depredations of the wanton characters in the opera, such as the Duke of Mantua, sung by French tenor Sebastian Guèze. 

“Rigoletto” is performed Sunday, November 1 and Sunday, November 8, 6 p.m.; Wednesday, November 4, 8 p.m.; and Friday, November 6, 8 p.m. Tickets range from 100 to 600 pesos, available at Ticketmaster, (33) 3818-3800, ticketmaster.com.mx and Degollado Theater box office, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, Tel. (33) 3614-4773. Degollado Theater is in Guadalajara’s city center two blocks behind the main cathedral. Discounts not available for this opera.  Orchestra information at (33) 3030-9772 weekdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Access to Degollado Theater to children ages six and over. 

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