A chat with Opera San Antonio's conductor on Rigoletto's 'pure Verdi magic'
Verdi's Rigoletto has often been called the greatest of all operas, with its famous arias and powerful drama about a flawed father's love. It first premiered in Venice in 1851, and is now being staged at the Tobin Center for two performances only, May 5 and 7, 2022.
Presented by Opera San Antonio, Rigoletto is performed in Italian with English supertitles and is a co-production with Boston Lyric Opera, The Atlanta Opera, and Opera Omaha.
CultureMap recently spoke with Francesco Milioto, Opera San Antonio's music director and the conductor for Rigoletto. Milioto is also music director of Holy City Arts and Lyric Opera, as well as artistic advisor to the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee and maintains cover conductor positions with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Santa Fe Opera.
CultureMap: Francesco, tell us about your work with Opera San Antonio as both a music director and a conductor. How long have you been associated with the company?
Francesco Milioto: I've been associated with OSA since my debut in 2018 with La Traviata. I love my work as music director of Opera San Antonio! I am a very collaborative person and enjoy both sides of my work here, the administrative and creative as well as the performance aspects.
Opera is a huge puzzle and I enjoy the challenge of working with our team to bring a season concept to fruition. The rehearsal room is one of my favorite places to be. It is such a privilege to do this work. I really love being a part of the process of opera and then being involved in the actual execution of it in front of our audience.
CM: How did you first become interested in music and conducting?
FM: Growing up, I wasn't interested in classical music. My father simply bought me a piano, signed me up for lessons, and said "you are playing." Maybe he saw something in me, or just wanted to hear music in our house? No idea, but it stuck and here I am.
I came to conducting very early in my undergraduate degree as a piano performance major in Canada. I heard the orchestra rehearsing and waited until the end so I could approach the conductor and asked, "Could you teach me to do what you just did on that box?"
CM: What do you love most about Rigoletto?
FM: I love the relationship between Gilda and her father, Rigoletto. Their individual music is incredible, but their scenes together are true Verdi magic.
CM: Opera, like many performing arts, is rebuilding after two years of impact from the pandemic. What can audiences expect to see and hear with this production?
FM: Our audience can expect the full spectacle of opera at our home in the Tobin Center. We will have the full cast, orchestra, chorus, sets, costumes etc. We were very proud to be one of the only opera companies in Texas producing opera during the pandemic, and we are even more excited to be back to full production.
CM: Any San Antonio highlights you are looking forward to experiencing while you are here?
FM: I very much enjoy my time in San Antonio. My favorite thing, of course, is the food! I can't wait for my regular walks along the Riverwalk and spending time at the Pearl. San Antonio has a wonderful vibe, welcoming and kind people, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I am looking forward to the warmer weather.
To purchase tickets to Opera San Antonio's Rigoletto, contact the Tobin Center box office online or at 210-223-8624.