Verdi’s Rigoletto The masterpiece they tried to ban
Rigoletto is a dramatic tale of the jester’s daughter whose heart is stolen by a charming but unreliable ruler and how her father’s attempts to prevent the love affair lead to tragedy.  The opera was almost banned because it exposed the licentious behaviour of the powers-that-be at court. 
Celebrating the return of the critically acclaimed soprano Alyona Kistenyova* as Gilda. Featuring two of the most celebrated tenor arias La Donna è Mobile and Questa o Quella justly turned into classics by Caruso, Rigoletto is based on a play by Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Miserables. 
This spectacular magnificently-staged production is inspired by the tradition of renaissance painting, with lavish sets and opulent costumes. It features a magnificent golden eagle with a seven-foot wingspan and two royal greyhounds. 
Ellen Kent’s Productions have a reputation for lavishness, spectacle and grandeur and her latest production of Rigoletto will be no different featuring a magnificent eagle and two elegant greyhounds to add to the opulence and extravagance. However there is a more important reason behind the inclusion of these majestic animals. Ellen has used an eagle in her productions before. Isla, the first eagle to appear in one of her operas, was raised from an egg as part of an on-going programme to re-introduce these incredible creatures back into the wild in Scotland where they have been hunted almost to extinction, Isla now is part of an extensive breeding programme. Ellen sees her production as an ideal platform to remind people of the breath-taking beauty of these birds. 
Derek Tindall, Head Falconer, Lincoln Castle
“The majesty and nobility of these birds is incredible and they need champions like Ellen Kent to make the world realise that their survival as a species is not guaranteed, that they do not exist solely for our pleasure and they need our protection and respect.” 
Ellen has long been a campaigner for animal welfare - like her mother who ran an animal sanctuary in Spain for many years - and after talking to a representative from a local greyhound charity and hearing how these beautiful dogs, the “Companions of Kings”, can be so cruelly and cold-heartedly abandoned once their running days are done, she determined to try and help raise awareness of their plight.
Opera & Ballet International and Ellen Kent’s Opera Festival includes Rigoletto Thur 15 March, La Traviata Fri 16 March and Madama Butterfly Sat 17 March. 
All sung in Italian with English surtitles
Rigoletto: (Please note some scenes contain nudity)
*Cast subject to change

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