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Broadway Vet Sheds Light On "Rigoletto"

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Tony Award winning director Michael Mayer is about to make his Metropolitan Opera debut with a new production of "Rigoletto". NY1's Frank DiLella filed the following report.

Viva Las Verdi! The classic opera "Rigoletto" is back on stage at The Met and it comes bundled in Sin City themes from showgirls to Rat Pack flare.

The revamped version of this nineteenth century Italian opera is under the leadership of Broadway vet and Tony Award winner Michael Mayer. Mayer - who is best known on the Main Stem for helming the rock infused musicals "American Idiot" and "Spring Awakening" - makes his Metropolitan Opera debut with "Rigoletto".

"In the original masterpiece, the Duke has a very licentious world," says Mayer. "And to me, it seemed very much like the world of Las Vegas."

Unlike Broadway - where most companies have four to six weeks to rehearse a show before performing in front of a paying audience - Mayer says opera is a whole other beast. The set was built last May. Mayer and his creative team froze lighting and sound cues right after and then the set was packed up and put in storage. Fast-forward to January of this year, Mayer had three weeks to stage the opera with his performers.

"I’m basically staging in a rehearsal room, and that all feels very comfortable and normal to me, although they're singing in Italian and that's its own complication," says Mayer.

To help fulfill his "Vegas" vision Mayer assembled a team of Broadway friends including his one-time choreographer on "American Idiot", Steven Hoggett.

"He's very involved in the very early stages. So you don't go veering off on making work that doesn't suit the piece," says Hoggett.

As for Mayer's first go-around at The Met, Rigoletto himself - Zeljko Lucic - has high hopes.

"This is completely something new, and it's a challenge. And I think it's really going to be a great success," Lucic says.

Michael Mayer's production of "Rigoletto" is set to open at The Metropolitan Opera on January 28.

For more information, visit www.metopera.org.

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