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(Verdi: Rigoletto). Sop. Daughter of the hunchback court jester, Rigoletto. Since her mother died, her father, who loves her dearly, has kept her secluded in their home, cared for by her nurse Giovanna. The wanton Duke of Mantua has seen her in church and is attracted by her. He slips into the house and introduces himself as a student, Gualtier Maldè. They are interrupted by the sound of somebody arriving and the Duke leaves. It is not her father, however, but the courtiers who are taking revenge on Rigoletto for the gibes they have suffered from his tongue. Knowing nothing of the jester's background, they assume Gilda to be his lover and have come to kidnap her. She is taken to the ducal palace, where the Duke, now revealed in his true colours, seduces her. Learning of this, Rigoletto is bent on revenge and hires an assassin. Gilda overhears the plans to kill the Duke and hand his body over to her father. She vows to sacrifice herself for the Duke and, dressed as a boy, is killed in his stead. When her father opens the sack containing what he believes to be the Duke's body, he finds his dying daughter. Aria: Caro nome … (‘Dear name that I love’); duet (with Rigoletto): Piangi, fanciulla, piangi (‘Weep, my child, weep’); quartet (with Rigoletto, the Duke, and Maddalena): Bella figlia dell'amore (‘Lovely daughter of love’). Apart from the above aria, there are few opportunities for great solo virtuosic singing for the soprano in this role, the entire opera being more dependent on its duets and ensembles, with which it abounds. Gilda and Rigoletto are among the many Verdi daughter–father relationships at the centre of several of his operas. Created (1851) by Teresa Brambilla.

Subjects: Opera.

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