Great Art Bad Reviews Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto

About Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, a great work of art which was originally given bad reviews.

GREAT WORKS OF ART WHICH WERE GREETED BY BAD REVIEWS

Verdi's Rigoletto

The Work: Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto was first performed at the Fenice theater in Venice, Italy, in 1851. It was based on Victor Hugo's Le Roi S'Amuse ("The King Amuses Himself") and it featured distinctive departures from traditional opera. For example, the emphasis is not on the arias but on a series of duets. The most famous melody of the piece is "La donna e mobile" ("Woman's a fickle jade"). The opera was considered controversial for political and religious reasons, and its performance was periodically censored altogether, or its text was altered, for a decade.

The Critics Speak: Audiences loved Rigoletto from the first, but the critics were not always as generous.

The Athenaeum wrote: "The music . . . is puerile and queer--odd modulations being perpetually wrenched out with the vain hope of disguising the meagerness of the ideas."

The Times of London accused Verdi of "imitations and plagiarisms" and concluded by calling Rigoletto "the most uninspired, the barest, and the most destitute of ingenious contrivance. To enter into an analysis would be a loss of time and space."

La Gazette Musicale de Paris decided: "Rigoletto is the weakest work of Verdi. It lacks melody. This opera has hardly any chance of being kept in the repertoire."

History Speaks: Rigoletto gave Rossini cause to exclaim, "In this music I at last recognize Verdi's genius." Critics now consider Rigoletto one of Verdi's three greatest works and an operatic masterpiece. The public has never ceased to love it.

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