Don Quixote Home Page Cervantes' Spain The Story Making Connections to the Arts Lessons [side curve]

Discovering Opera

Unit Overview

Who is Rigoletto?

What is the Structure of the Story?

Why Do These Characters Act This Way?

From Story to Stage

Developing a Libretto

The Composer and the Librettist

Operatic Conventions

How Do Words and Music Help Us Understand the Characters


The Enduring Quest
Man of La Mancha


Discovering Opera Icon

Discovering Opera through Rigoletto

Rigoletto's Story, Part 1

My name is Rigoletto. I was born with a big hump on my back. For most of my life, people made fun of me and wouldn't take me seriously. I couldn't do the kind of work that other people could do. But I was good at making the Duke laugh, so he made me the court jester.

You might think that being a court jester to the Duke would be a fun job, but I am here to tell you that it can be the worst job in the world. All day long I have to tell jokes and make fun of people. They all laugh at me, but I know that they also hate me. I have made fun of each one of them. I don't care. I don't like them anyway. They are all a bunch of phonies. And I am the Duke's favorite servant, so they can't do anything to me.

I may be the Duke's favorite but I don't really like him either. He doesn't treat people very well. He can be a very cruel man. If he falls in love with a woman and she is in love with someone else, he will just have the other man killed. He thinks that's funny. Then he gets tired of that woman and starts to flirt with another. He has broken hearts all over Mantua.

Why just today he sent a man to jail, right during one of the Duke's outrageous parties. The man's name was Monterone. He had a daughter who unfortunately fell in love with the Duke. The Duke broke her heart. Monterone was so mad that he started to tell everyone what he thought about the Duke. As you can imagine, the Duke was not so happy about that and had him arrested. I thought it was funny at the time and made some jokes about him. He looked at me and cursed me. He said that he hoped that some day I would feel the grief that a father feels when his daughter is treated cruelly.

All of the courtiers laughed, but I didn't. They don't know that I have a secret. I have a daughter. She is an angel--so innocent. I keep her locked away from all these terrible people. I especially don't want her to ever meet the Duke.