Thomson Smillie opens his inviting exegesis of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto by playing the instantly recognizable "La donna e mobile". The approachability of the famous canzone mirrors the general nature of Smillie's teaching methods. Smillie is a renowned lecturer on the performing arts, most notably on elite cruise ships, precisely because he tends to awaken the same passion in his listeners as he himself feels. And he truly shines when explaining opera - both in elucidating the composer's background and the composition itself. In this episode on Verdi, actor David Timson enthuses listeners about Smillie's pet subject in a pleasant, professorial fashion, discussing (amongst many other matters) the Austrian censors that almost brought down the famous Italian Romantic composer.
Rigoletto is simply wonderful entertainment with superb music. It is also much more - a daring (for its time) attack on aristocratic privilege, a tender love story, and an impassioned appeal on behalf of the disadvantaged, all set to music of such wealth and beauty that, with its sister operas La traviata and Il trovatore, it has defined Italian opera for 150 years. Overcoming initial trouble with the censors, Verdi's Rigoletto was a smash hit at its premiere and has not been out of the repertoire since. It’s not hard to see why.
From Thomson Smillie’s accessible account, the opera comes alive in this audiobook. David Timson is the perfect exponent of Smillie's vivacious writing, securing a thoroughly entertaining and informative performance.
©2002 Naxos AudioBooks (P)2002 Naxos AudioBooks
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