At 95, Franco Zeffirelli is returning to the opera house to direct a new production of Rigoletto.
The opera will open in September 2020 at the Royal Opera House in Muscat when the Zeffirelli will be 97. The theatre's director, Umberto Fanni, announced the news from Zeffirelli's glorious villa on Rome's via Appia Antica. His last production was a Don Giovanni for the Arena in Verona in 2012. It was a Zeffirelli production of Turandot which opened Oman's opulent theatre in 2011.
The country is an absolute monarchy and 2020 marks not only the tenth anniversary of the Royal Opera House but also 50 years since the Sultan came to power.
It will be a historical moment for us as the maestro's opening production inaugurated the theatre but also provided the template for programming that we've offered over the past years.
Our theatre is equipped with an excellent acoustics and has special features, combining marble and wood, created by an Arab architect who has created a modern auditorium equipped with the latest technology.
Zeffirelli's long-time assistant said,
There will be all the traits of Zeffirelli's magnificence and aesthetics, with also the cinematographic slant typical of his productions. It will, of course, be a Rigoletto which respects the music and poetry of Verdi.
Pippo Corsi Zeffirelli added,
This will be a more intimate Zeffirelli, unique, and different from the grandiose productions that we are used to from him.
Rigoletto will be co-produced by the Arena di Verona (with its orchestra, chorus and scenery) and Rome Opera (costumes) as well as the theatres of Vilnius and Zagreb.
Rawya Al Busaidi, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royal Opera House, said that this cultural collaboration is a goal of the Sultan:
Fostering the cultural development of the nation and encouraging peace among nations through cultural exchange, all made possible by the universal language of music.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.