The cynical jester of the dissolute hedonist duke has a secret – his beloved daughter Gilda. The duke, for whom sanctity does not exist, seduces young maiden. Deeply hurt, her father’s revenge turns back on himself… OperaRigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi earned resounding success already in its Venice premiere in 1851 and love of the public has only increased ever since, elevating this masterpiece into the ranks of the most recognized operas of the world.
A lavish celebration in the castle of the Duke. The Duke, a carefree man of pleasure, tells of a new beauty he has seen in the church. Her name is unknown, but he has learned that she is visited by a stranger every night at her home. Duke is determined to see her again and seduce her, but then he notices Countess Ceprano with her husband among the arrivals. Before Count’s eyes, the Duke invites her to follow him to his private chambers. Having observed this scene, Rigoletto derides the cuckolded Count and exposes him in public. Count swears to revenge his honour. Meanwhile, Marullo reveals to the guests that Rigoletto has a secret mistress.
The ball turns increasingly bacchanal. At its climax, Count Monterone arrives and accuses the Duke for defamation of his daughter. Rigoletto reviles humiliated father, who, in turn, curses the Duke and Rigoletto alike. The party is over.
A dark little street. Rigoletto is tormented by the curse of Monterone. The contract killer Sparafucile approaches, and offers his services. At first, Rigoletto refuses his offer, but then he realizes how alike the two of them are – assassin’s weapon is his sharp sword, while his is his biting tongue.
Rigoletto has his daughter Gilda waiting for him at home. She asks her father to reveal the mystery of his name and family, but Rigoletto is evasive.
Gilda turns to her governess Giovanna and confesses that she has met an attractive man in the church and fallen in love with him. Suddenly, the disguised Duke appears and opens his feelings to Gilda. Alone again, Gilda falls into reverie over her newly found love.
Meanwhile, courtiers prepare to kidnap the mistress of Rigoletto. When Rigoletto arrives, they claim their intentions to abduct the Countess Ceprano, who lives nearby. Rigoletto is ready to join in the act and allows to be blindfolded for that by the courtiers. It is too late when he realizes that he has been misled. Gilda has already been taken kidnapped.
In one of the castle halls, Duke deplores disappearance of his beloved Gilda. Marullo arrives to confirm the abduction of Rigoletto’smistress and the fact that she is now in the castle.
Gilda arrives and tells in distress that she has been seduced by the Duke. Rigoletto drives away the courtiers to be able to remain alone with his daughter. Now, Gilda tells her father the history of fer and Duke. Monterone, who has fallen out of grace, crosses the hall to be taken to jail. Rigoletto swears his revenge – he will make the Duke pay by death for daughter’s dishonour.
A dilapidated night-shelter in a godforsaken place – it is home of Sparafucile and his sister Maddalena who helps her brother in committing murder and robbery. The Duke appears and flippantly demands Maddalena and wine. Intoxicated, he teases inconstancy of women in a song. Rigoletto and Gilda observe this scene from outside. Gilda realizes that Duke is an unfaithful man, but cannot stop loving him.
Sparafucile demands a half of his fee for the intended assassination of the Duke, and they shake hands about the condition, that the dead body will be received in a bag. Rigoletto orders Gilda to dress herself as a man and go to Verona and wait for him there.
Duke goes to sleep. Maddalena, consumed by a sudden passion for Duke, implores her brother to spare him. Sparafucile resists. Then, Maddalena suggests they should kill the next arrival to knock at their door. Having ignored her father’s orders, Gilda over-hears their conversation in secret. Her desire is to save the Duke and she takes decision to die instead of him.
Rigoletto returns and receives a dead body wrapped in a bag. Rejoicing in the success of his plot, he sinks to the ground, but, next, count’s singing begins to be heard. Full of darkest premonitions, Rigoletto opens the bag to find his daughter dying. The curse of Monterone has been fulfilled.