Georgia (and Gilda) on my mind
Georgia Jarman, charming as Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment in 2006 and as Giulettia in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi in 2008 for the Florentine Opera, is back for some Verdi.
“Some singers don’t like Gilda, because they think she’s so stupid,” Jarman said, in an interview Tuesday (May 18). “But she’s caught in such a dark and evil story. I can’t think of a character as mistreated.”
Rigoletto, jester to the charming but ruthlessly lecherous Duke of Mantua, has kept his daughter’s very existence a secret. He’s kept her locked in his house her entire life, anticipating seduction or worse on his employer’s part.
“I think she’s a little loopy,” Jarman said. “She lives in something of a bizarre fantasy world. She’s never been able to get out and talk with the girls about boys. So when this sexy duke comes in, naturally she falls for him.”
A Gilda unbalanced by isolation makes a great deal of sense in the plot, which librettist Francesco Maria Piave based on Victor Hugo’s play, The King’s Fool (Le Roi s’amuse). It certainly helps to explain why she would sacrifice her life to save the Duke’s in the final act.
“I talked this over with Bill (Florescu, director of this opera and general director of the Florentine),” Jarman said. “He expressed a desire for a slightly different direction with Gilda, for a more complex Gilda. He’s thoroughly on board with it.
“Sometimes directors ask singers, ‘What do you normally do here? Bill didn’t do that. He has his own ideas and he’s very clear about what he wants.”
This will Jarman’s first Gilda, so she arrived with no baggage. What took her so long to get around to a role in the center of her vocal and theatrical strike zone? She was classified as a mezzo in college, and so never sang soprano roles until she launched her career. She switched to soprano at the suggestion of her mentor, pianist/conductor/critic/musicologist Will Crutchfield. (Listen to some of the tracks right here to hear that he advised Jarman wisely.)
Jarman might have been channeling Crutchfield when she spoke so specifically and intelligently about Verdi style:
“Verdi marked his scores very specifically. If you really pay attention to those markings, it really shapes the music. Look at the score carefully — it’s a map to the style.”
The Florentine Opera will stage Verdi’s Rigoletto at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 21-23, at Marcus Center Uihlein Hall, 929 N. Water St. Tickets are $28-$140 at the Florentine website; the company’s ticket line, 414-291-5700 ext. 224, and at the Marcus Center box office, 414-273-7206.
Cast and Credits
Rigoletto, Luis Ledesma (May 21 and 23) and Peter Castaldi (May 23); Gilda, Georgia Jarman; Duke of Mantua, Arturo Chacon-Cruz; Monterone, Kelly Anderson; Sparafucile, Stephen Morscheck; Maddalena, Audrey Babcock.