Despite two different non-musical interruptions, the second of which — a false alarm — delayed the beginning of the third act, this powerful production of Rigoletto won over the large audience at the Granada and brought them to their feet for a loud ovation at the finale. Evan Brummel as Rigoletto and Cody Austin as the Duke of Mantua formed a splendid pair of partners for Andrea Carroll, the soprano in the role of Gilda, who won the hearts of many with her vocal prowess and nuanced dramatic performance. Catherine Martin sizzled as Maddalena, and bass Kevin Thompson portrayed an appropriately menacing Sparafucile.
A lot of the fun in Rigoletto stems from the tightly choreographed action sequences. The combination of Steven Kemp’s set, complete with one very tall ladder, and the strong physical performances turned in by the chorus as directed by Brad Dalton made these sequences into effective spectacles on the Granada stage. By contrast, a giant wall of flowers played down the representational elements in favor of a more abstract, yet still sensuous backdrop. Maestro Christopher Allen rounded out the group of artists making auspicious Opera Santa Barbara debuts in this production with a fine and satisfying account of the score. Done this well, Rigoletto remains irresistible, one of the greatest and certainly one of the most enduring of all Italian operas.