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Sung in Italian with projected English translation


Appropriate for all ages

Running Time

2 hours and 40 minutes
2 intermissions


A man who seeks revenge should dig two graves.

New Production

Featuring some of opera’s more recognizable music, Verdi’s Rigoletto is a tragic story of jealousy, lust, and revenge. The antagonistic jester, Rigoletto, is cursed after a joke goes too far in the court of the villainous Duke. Despite his best efforts to protect his beloved daughter, Rigoletto is unable to keep her safe from the outside world and the curse’s fulfillment. He most certainly will not have the last laugh.

Director Tomer Zvulun returns to the Wortham after his haunting production of The Flying Dutchman last season. American baritones Michael Mayes and Scott Hendricks share the role of Rigoletto alongside an outstanding cast filled with renowned HGO Studio alumni, including Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz as the Duke of Mantua and Armenian soprano Mané Galoyan as Gilda.

Sung in Italian with projected English translation.


(10/18, 10/20, 10/26)
   Michael Mayes
(10/29, 11/01)
  Scott Hendricks
Duke of Mantua   Arturo Chacón-Cruz
Gilda   Mané Galoyan
Sparafucile   David Shipley
Maddalena   Zoie Reams
Monterone   Nicholas Newton
Borsa   Richard Trey Smagur
Marullo   Geoffrey Hahn
Count Ceprano   Daniel Noyola
Countess Ceprano   Dorothy Gal
Page   Elena Villalón
Giovanna   Lindsay Kate Brown
Usher   William Guanbo Su
Conductor   Jordan de Souza
Director   Tomer Zvulun
Associate Director   Stephanie Havey
Set Designer   Erhard Rom
Costume Designer   Jessica Jahn
Lighting Designer   Robert Wierzel


Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Richard Bado, Chorus Master
The Sarah and Ernest Butler Chorus Master Chair

Scenic design originally created for Wolf Trap Opera.

Grand Underwriters: ConocoPhillips and Margaret Alkek Williams


At the ducal court of Mantua, a ball is in progress. The licentious Duke of Mantua openly pursues Countess Ceprano, much to her husband’s mortification. Further humiliated by the duke’s jester, Rigoletto, the furious Count Ceprano enlists the help of the courtiers in exacting revenge upon Rigoletto. They need no encouragement, for Rigoletto has many enemies. He has been seen in the company of a young woman, and in this his enemies recognize an opportunity for reprisal. Count Monterone arrives, demanding revenge upon the Duke, who has dishonored his daughter. Rigoletto cruelly mocks him, and Monterone curses both the Duke and his jester.

Later that night, Rigoletto agonizes over the curse. The assassin Sparafucile approaches him, cryptically offering to rid the tormented jester of his rival. Unnerved, Rigoletto turns down the offer and sends Sparafucile away.

Rigoletto returns home to his daughter Gilda, whom he keeps hidden from the world, only allowing her out to attend church. She does not know her father’s position in the court and doesn’t even know his name. The spying Duke overhears their conversation and is surprised to learn that the girl he admired in church and followed home is his own jester’s daughter. As soon as Rigoletto leaves, the Duke, posing as a poor student named Gualtier Maldè, charms Gilda. Their meeting is cut short by noises from the street, and Gilda, fearing the return of her father, sends the Duke away. Gilda sings dreamily of her student lover while the courtiers gather outside to abduct the woman they presume to be Rigoletto’s mistress. When Rigoletto returns, the courtiers fool him into thinking they are abducting Countess Ceprano and ask for his help. Rigoletto discovers too late that he has helped the courtiers kidnap his own Gilda. He blames Monterone’s curse.



At the palace, the Duke laments Gilda’s sudden disappearance, until the courtiers bring news that they have abducted Rigoletto’s mistress for his pleasure. Elated, the Duke cannot wait to reveal his true identity to Gilda. Rigoletto enters, searching for his daughter, only to learn that she is with the Duke in his chambers. He demands, entreats, and finally begs the courtiers to have pity. A disheveled Gilda suddenly appears and rushes into her father’s arms. Rigoletto is devastated and furiously rebuffs her pleas that he forgive the Duke. Monterone appears, bemoaning the ineffectiveness of his curse, while Rigoletto swears vengeance on the Duke.



On a stormy night, Rigoletto drags Gilda to a remote inn owned by the assassin Sparafucile. He forces her to watch as the Duke seduces Sparafucile’s sister, Maddalena. Rigoletto sends the heartbroken Gilda away, and then hires Sparafucile to kill the Duke. Maddalena, however, has taken a fancy to the Duke and begs her brother to spare him; Sparafucile agrees, provided that another victim can be found. Gilda, who has returned in disguise, resolves to sacrifice herself to save the Duke’s life.

Rigoletto returns at midnight as arranged. Sparafucile gives him a sack containing the body and disappears. When Rigoletto hears the Duke singing in the distance, he realizes he has been duped. Ripping open the sack, he discovers Gilda, who begs for forgiveness with her last breath. Monterone’s curse has been fulfilled.


Rigoletto was first performed at HGO during the 1958–59 season—HGO’s fourth season. It has since been performed on the main stage during seasons 1965–66, 1969–70, 1976–77, 1982–83, 1989–90, 1994–95, 2001–02, 2008–09, and 2013–14. Additionally, it was performed on tour by Texas Opera Theater during the 1981–82 season and at Miller Outdoor Theatre in May 2009.


Michael Mayes Headshot
Rigoletto (10/18, 10/20, 10/26)
Scott Hendricks
Rigoletto (10/29, 11/01)
Duke of Mantua
Geoffrey Hahn
Daniel Noyola
Count Ceprano
Dorothy Gal
Countess Ceprano
Lindsay Kate Brown


Jordan de Souza
Tomer Zvulun
Stephanie Havey
Associate Director
Erhard Rom
Set Designer
Jessica Jahn
Costume Designer
Lighting Designer
Richard Bado
Chorus Master

* HGO debut
** HGO Studio Artist
*** Former HGO Studio Artist
Learn more about Rigoletto

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