Opera Stories: Revenge Gone Wrong
By: Jennifer Colgan
People often say, “revenge is sweet.” There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the bad guy get his just desserts. Opera is full of satisfying revenge stories, from Elektra’s bloody retribution against her father’s murderers to the wives of Windsor duping Falstaff. But what happens when those just desserts aren’t so sweet? Opera has plenty of revenge stories that fit that bill, including Verdi’s Rigoletto, on stage at the Ellie starting November 5.
Tosca: Revenge Too Late
You don’t have to go too far back in Opera Colorado’s history for a revenge story without a happy ending—Puccini’s Tosca, which opened our 2021-22 Season. You can read about the characters and plot of Tosca here, and one of the opera’s most memorable moments is when Tosca stabs Baron Scarpia as revenge for his betrayal, hoping that this will allow her to escape with her love, Cavaradossi. But her revenge comes too late; Scarpia has already guaranteed Cavaradossi’s execution, and upon witnessing it, Tosca leaps to her death from the roof of the Castel Sant’Angelo.
Il trovatore: Mixed-Up Revenge
Another opera revenge story gone wrong is a classic by the composer of Rigoletto, Giuseppe Verdi—Il trovatore. You might know the thunderous “Anvil Chorus” from this opera, a melodramatic tale of passion and deadly mistakes. Azucena’s mother was accused of cursing the Count of Luna’s son and subsequently executed. Azucena sets out to murder the Count’s son in revenge and is so blind with rage that she accidentally kills her own child instead.
Rigoletto: Cursed Revenge
Rigoletto, written just before Il trovatore, is one of opera’s most well-known stories of revenge gone wrong. Rigoletto’s daughter, Gilda, is the only thing good in his life. When he sees the adulterous Duke of Mantua’s gaze set on her, he vows revenge and hires a hit man to murder the duke. What follows is an unfortunate series of misunderstandings and sacrifices that result in the death of Gilda instead of the duke.
Whether you like a good revenge story or love the sound and spectacle of grand opera, join us and see the drama unfold when Verdi’s Rigoletto is on stage for four performances only this fall.
What is your favorite revenge story from opera, theater, TV, or film? Let us know in the comments below!