As well, it was festooned with all sorts of hanging devices which accommodated acrobatic marvels -- gym rings, ladders, trapezes -- which marvels were matched on the ground by a stunningly-garbed acrobat on stilts: the flowing, tangerine costume enveloped the actor's legs for an astonishing visual impact -- 10-12 feet of brilliant colour moving flamboyantly through the whites and blacks of the courtiers' costumes. As well, another stuntman wove a trick bike through the moving, thronging, sexily-clad court. And when I say sexily-clad, I should probably mention that there was some sexily-UNclad as well -- in an upper tier within the structure were beautiful young female dancers, at least one of whom was topless. To give you an idea of how sexy these costumes could be, here's a set of photos depicting backstage preparations, also from the VOA blog.What was also surprising about the set was how well the scaffolding around it and the supporting metal stilts below it suggested the setting for the opera's more nefarious actions -- the dark alleyways of a city where hit men might offer their services or courtiers kidnap young women for the duke's pleasure were credibly found in its nooks and crannies.
While we haven't seen other productions of this opera, we were easily convinced that these performances were strong, top-tier even. These photographs (VOA website, again) suggest the strength that baritone Donnie Ray Albert brings to the role of Rigoletto -- his physical presence was as commanding as his voice (whereas the Duke's role, while well sung and competently interpreted, wasn't as compelling). And Elise Gutierrez, who sang the role of Gilda -- well, we might be fairly new to opera, but she is clearly a rising star -- stunning, mesmerizing, captivating soprano, just beautiful! Again, her physical beauty enhanced the role and convincingly portrayed Gilda's innocent purity and ability to sacrifice herself for love.I so wish I could find better photos of the costumes for this production -- the courtiers' black and white outfits were so perfect with a variety of graphic pattern that made the most of the light and dark contrast -- dazzling!