Front Page Titles (by Subject) RIGOLETTO THE STORY - Rigoletto: An Opera in Four Acts
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RIGOLETTO THE STORY - Giuseppe Verdi, Rigoletto: An Opera in Four Acts 
Rigoletto: An Opera in Four Acts, words by Victor Hugo (New York: Fred Rullman, n.d.). Metropolitan Opera House, Grand Opera, Libretto.
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In the ducal palace. Courtiers jest about the Duke’s amours. Some are jealous of his attentions to their wives and daughters and accuse Rigoletto his jester, of aiding him in his intrigues. They agree to be avenged on Rigoletto and pay him in his own coin. Monterone comes now to demand reparation for an outrage to his daughter. Rigoletto mocks him, and Monterone, mad with rage and indignation, upbraids both the Duke and Rigoletto. The Duke orders Monterone’s arrest, but before being taken away the prisoner launches a father’s curse on the jester. Thinking of his own daughter, Rigoletto quails before Monterone’s malediction.
A house of retired appearance with garden surrounded by high wall. Sparafucile, a bravo, offers to rid Rigoletto of any enemy he may have for a consideration. The jester tells him he has no present use for his services but will remember him. Rigoletto lets himself in by the door to garden and fondly embraces his daughter Gilda, whose love is one consolation. She, in her seclusion, is kept ignorant of the world. He tells Giovanna, her attendant, to always closely guard her. The Duke comes on scene and glides in by the gate, unknown to Rigoletto, and the latter departs. Gilda, who thinks the Duke a student whom she has seen at church, at first repels his advances, but gradually he hears from her lips that she loves him. The expected return of the father frightens the girl and she prevails on the Duke to leave. Then the masked conspirators enter to abduct Gilda, and, meeting Rigoletto, persuade him it is Count Ceprano’s wife they are after, and he willingly joins them. They place a bandage over his eyes, and he holds the ladder as they scale the wall and abduct his daughter. It is only as they are carrying her off that he hears her cries for help. Recognizing the voice and tearing off the bandage he sees that Gilda is gone. “The curse!” he cries and falls.
Room in the Duke’s palace. The Duke bewails the disappearance of Gilda. He wonders where she can be when the courtiers enter to tell him of a great joke—they have abducted the mistress of Rigoletto and she is now in the palace. The Duke, suspecting it is Gilda, flies to join her. Rigoletto enters. He pretends not to know anything, but they watch him closely. They tell him the Duke is still sleeping, but when he makes a rush to get out and they oppose him, he knows the truth, and at first furious, at last pleads with them to give him back his daughter. They are surprised at his revelation, but they will not listen to his prayers nor heed his struggles and tears. At this moment Gilda enters and rushes to her father’s arms. The courtiers retire and Gilda confesses her shame. She tells her father how the Duke, as a student, won her heart only to end in ruin and dismay. Her father calls down the vengeance of heaven upon the libertine. Here enters Count Monterone escorted by guards on his way to prison. He wonders if it is vain to utter a curse on the dastard Duke. As he passes on, “No, no!” exclaims Rigoletto, for he will avenge them both with a blow that will prove fatal. Gilda’s love, though, is still strong enough to wish to save the Duke from harm.
A tumble-down building divided by a wall from the open country. Gilda tries to persuade her father that the Duke is true to her. Rigoletto tells her to look through a crevice of the wall and she sees the disguised Duke embracing Maddalena and ordering wine. Sparafucile wants Rigoletto to let him know if this man is to die. Rigoletto tells him to wait. (Here comes the great quartette.) Gilda, seeing for herself, is convinced that the Duke is false, but she trembles for him as she departs. Rigoletto now concludes his bargain with Sparafucile to kill the Duke. The latter, on the inside, tells the cut-throat that, as a storm is brewing, he will stay all night, and goes to bed. Maddalena implores Sparafucile not to kill him, but the bravo says he has been paid for it and must do it. Maddalena persists, and Gilda, who has returned dressed as a boy and, listening at the gate, hears Sparafucile promise that if anyone else comes along he shall be killed instead. Gilda thereupon, out of love for the Duke, resolves to sacrifice herself in his stead. She knocks at the gate, it is opened, Sparafucile advances, seizes Gilda—a stifled cry and silence. Soon after Rigoletto returns and demands what he has paid for. Sparafucile drags out a sack and throws it at his feet. Rigoletto gloats over his victim. Suddenly he hears the voice of the Duke and then sees him passing in the background. Who then, is this? He tears open the sack, looks closely and with a great cry falls senseless over Gilda’s corpse.