Read the title of this article and it seems like it’s just going to be an advert.
And of course it IS going to be an advert.
But not ‘just’.
Spend your £5.99 on this week’s new ebook, or don’t spend your £5.99 on this week’s new ebook, I frankly don’t much care. Taxes, accountancy fees, more taxes. I won’t see much of your money.
But I’ll tell you about watching Rigoletto anyway, and give you some links to the opera on Youtube so you can take a look if you choose to. That’s the fun part, and it’s better than ‘real work’, at least.
What’s that? You’re not an opera person?
Or at least I wasn’t, until I started doing the marketing for this new series of opera easy readers (we sell EBOOKS, by the way. You wouldn’t believe how many people write to enquire when the parcel containing their paper copy will arive…)
So, last week I watched Rigoletto. Anne from Chicago emailed recently and wrote (I don’t suppose she’ll mind me quoting her):
“Rigoletto” is the first opera I ever saw. At the Strasbourg opera house. No translation, and I had no idea what was going on. But the music was beautiful (great drinking song), and so was the little opera house. It’s circular, and outside the stalls are numbered coat hooks for each seat.
So the glove was thrown down! If Anne could do it, and with no translation, then I certainly could! Though from my kitchen table, sadly.
As with previous cultural forays, my go to online opera house also happened to be the one in my city. I looked there first.
Unfortunately, Bologna’s Youtube Rigoletto, while visually very interesting (do take a look), has no subtitles, not in Italian, not in any language. That’s no good, ragazzi! What are you playing at?
So off I went to find an alternative, and came across this one, by the Italian public broadcaster, RAI.
For some reason I’m not clear about, I rejected that one, too. Perhaps the opening shots of sunny Verona put me off, or I’d had too many beers that evening, or Roomie was bugging me, I don’t know. There were subtitles, but it just didn’t grab me.
So in the end I plumped for an older RAI version, in Milan, 1994, and stuck with that for the whole two hours and eight minutes, or whatever it was.
Assuming you might do the same (but read on before you decide), here are some tips.
With the Milan version, be very careful at the beginning (from 3 mins 30 secs approximately). Even though I’d read our simplified version of the story, and my Italian is pretty good, and there are subtitles, I still ended up pausing, rewinding, and re-watching the first scene, or act, or whatever they call it, multiple times. I needed to.
Watch the whole first part, so up to around 15.00, carefully. Rigoletto’s role isn’t obvious at first, and the opening sets everything up for the rest of the tale.
Act 2 starts at 58 mins. If you don’t plan to watch the opera, do scroll though to that point to check out the Duke’s lady-bait mullet! Did we really look like that in 1994? I’m pretty sure I didn’t. Perhaps that was why I didn’t get the girls.
Act 3 begins, 1 hour and 31 minutes in, with one of Verdi’s platinum discs, Rigoletto’s chart-topper, the famosissimo ‘La donna è mobile’. Scroll to 1.33 to listen to it.
Opera fan or no, I bet that one’s familar.
What’s the song about? Misogynistic crap, basically. But it’s hummable.
OK…. and the opera, itself? Who or what is Rigoletto? Sounds rather like a variety of pasta, don’t you think?
For an answer to that, I’ll refer you to the blurb from the shop product, which I crafted myself, during the weekend. Scroll down to find it.
Before you go, though, remember the newer RAI version that I rejected because I didn’t have the bandwith for opera, beer, and Roomie tugging at my jumper asking for a ‘mella’ (caramella = candy), all at the same time?
Well after I’d finished with Milan’s mulleted duke, I went back to take a look at Verona’s version (think a smaller, plumper version of George Michael). The audio quality is good, it’s easy to see what’s going on on stage, and watching through the opening scene/act/thingy, what was going on seemed much clearer than in the Milan version.
And now I’ve done the legwork, you can decide for yourself. N.b. Neither RAI nor Youtube are paying me a cent. They should, right? Please let Meloni and the Google boys know…
An original Italian easy reader by Francesca Colombo
Giuseppe Verdi’s famous opera is here simplifed for learners of Italian (with quotes from the actual libretto!)
Court jester to a sex-addicted aristocrat, Rigoletto earns a nice living mocking the courtiers whose wives his boss seduces, safe in the knowledge that the Duke he amuses will protect him. But then his many enemies learn that Rigoletto has a secret…
Why not begin with our ‘easy reader’ ebook before seeking out a recording of the opera on Youtube? It’ll help! Or just use this original Italian reading/listening practice material to add a little variety to your study program.
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 5 chapters (based on the act structure of the opera) to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at pre-intermediate level or above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
This being the first week, Rigoletto is 25% discounted, so just £5.99 rather than the usual ‘easy reader’ ebook price of £7.99.
Do check out the FREE sample chapter (.pdf) before you buy a copy, though. That way, you’ll know whether the level is suitable and that the format works on the device you intend to use it on.
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally, immediately after your payment), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook (.mobi/Kindle-compatible, .epub) cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them.
Don’t forget to read/listen to Saturday’s FREE bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news.