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Many people associate music with upbeat or sad rhythms, which have the power to bring on the emotions for listeners. In fact, the significance of music lies much deeper. If to consider the classical one, it becomes clear that every composition has its unique features, which make it attractive and interesting. Opera “Rigoletto” by Verdi, adapted from Victor Hugo’s play “Le roi s’amuse” is a proof of it. With the help of special theme, historical references, constituents, and music techniques, it definitely leaves no critics or audience indifferent.

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Significance of “Rigoletto” by Victor Hugo

The significance of “Rigoletto” by Victor Hugo can be noticed from different perspectives. Firstly, this classical composition has a great thematic value. On the one hand, it reveals negative sides of royal board. It deals with an unlimited power of a king, his despotic manners of ruling and negative outcomes for the citizens. The message of a revolutionary spirit is incorporated in it. Moreover, past royal behavior was created as an allegory of the present incumbent’s actions, beliefs, or associations. Due to it, it proves that it is necessary to stand against tyranny equally in different époques (Goldovsky, & Schoep 147). On the other hand, it gives for the listeners a profound philosophical lesson. It shows that everything in this world is based on duality. That is why there is no absolute goodness or evil. Hugo achieves this goal by the creation of a grotesque character - Rigoletto. He is presented in such a way that it seems for listeners that he has two souls: one of them is kind, gentle, and an intensely compassionate, while another one is destroyed, sadistic, and wicked (Fisher 15). Secondly, “Rigoletto” is interesting for modern audience, as it gives a chance to move back intime. It means that it has the important historical references, which help to create the image of the past époque. Hugo put enormous emphasis on verisimilitude and exact depiction of a royal period in the history of France. For example, his “king” lives among the courtiers, bearing the noble and authentic French names, and “enjoys” himself in circumstances of the most painstaking historical accuracy (Goldovsky, & Schoep 147). Thirdly, the constituents of “Rigoletto” are treated like a brilliant in the crown of classical music. The best known arias from “Rigoletto” are: “La donna e mobile” – the most popular of all tenor arias from Act III; Rigoletto’s monologue “Pari siamo”; the soprano aria “Caro nome” from Act I; and the duet between Rigoletto and Gilda “Piangi, piangi, fanciulla” from Act II (Goulding 275 - 276). Finally, the opera would not become so significant without special musical techniques. Verdi employs an unusual technique of the recitative cantando (singing recitative), half – way between a straight recitative and melodic line. The extreme plasticity of this form enables the composer to convey with split – second swiftness the jester’s moods, as he swings from fear to anguish to rage to tenderness and back to fear before dismissing his forebodings as absurd”. Such a technique reflects Rigoletto’s inner world with a visceral immediacy that words simply cannot convey (Rosmarin 18). Hugo describes the great power of this technique in such a way, “If I could only make four characters in my plays speak at the same time, and have the audience grasp the words and sentiments, I would obtain the very same effect. But it became Giuseppe Verdi, who applied the evocative power of music” (Fisher 155).

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Overview of the Opera

Music is a notion which does not depend on the conventiional laws. It means that everyone gains other feelings and emotions from it. To my point of view, the greatest value of “Rigoletto” lies in the fact that it has a profound sense. It means that it has an influence not only on aesthetic feelings, but also on a mind. For example, it helps to understand that revenge based on violence will not, definitely, help to solve a problem, but only will bring fatal consequences. Moreover, it proves that royal board with its conventional laws of superiority, creates many sufferings for ordinary people. If to regard this opera from the perspective of musical analysis, it also has some features, which are perceived in a different way by the listeners. For example, employment of a new method of recitative cantando – mixing recitative with musical lines is treated not only as new musical techniques but a special tool for conveying the mood. As for me, this mood is based on a solid and somber atmosphere. Especially, slow pace of recitative underlines it.


“Rigoletto” by Verdi, adapted from Victor Hugo’s play “Le roi s’amuse” is a significant composition within the sphere of classical music. The main reason for it is conveying through it an actual theme – inequality in the society and duality of the world. In addition, “Rigoletto” is interesting for both critics and audience because of the historical references, well – known compositions - constituents, and music technique, incorporated in it. Nevertheless, as significance is a biased notion, it is necessary to include own feelings and thoughts from the opera to the list of its benefits. To my mind, the opera is worth a popularity, as it gives an important lesson for all generations – avenge is not a solution. In addition, it achieves this goal not only with the help of words but also music which has a power to touch not only aesthetic feelings but also mind.

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