Fortune is Fickle i.e. May in Mantua

Set in the 16th century Mantua, Rigoletto is an opera with a tragic story that revolves around the lascivious Duke of Mantua, his court jester Rigoletto and Rigoletto’s beautiful daughter Gilda. The opera’s original title, La maledizione (The Curse), refers to the curse put on both the Duke and Rigoletto by a courtier whose daughter had been seduced by the Duke with Rigoletto’s encouragement. The curse is fulfilled when Gilda also falls in love with the Duke and sacrifices her life to save him from the assassins hired by her father.

Modelled after Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse (The King Has Fun), Rigoletto is not only a social critique of the corrupt society, but also an account of a personal drama of an unscrupulous, boot-licking miser who plots against unsuspecting people to please his womanizing master. Rigoletto’s famous last words when he discovers the dead body of his daughter in place of the Duke’s: Mia Gilda! E morta. Ah, la maledizione! echo the last cry of Hugo’s jester Triboulet: J’ai tue mon enfant. (I killed my child).

It is not a coincidence that I chose Rigoletto’s statue to feature May.

Early this month I took a trip to Mantua. In a small yard in the shadow of Saint George’s Castle stands a statue of Rigoletto, a hunchbacked court jester and the tragic figure of Verdi’s most performed opera.



At last the moment of vengeance is at hand!
For thirty days I have waited,
weeping tears of blood
behind my fool’s mask.


Act 3 opens with the famous aria La donna è mobile sung by the character playing the Duke, disguised as a soldier. It is an irony. The Duke sings that all women are fickle and that they will betray anyone who falls in love with them, but no character in this opera is rational or reliable. They may all be considered callous or mobile (inconstant).

Here is the libretto (the original and English translation), and if you click on the player button bellow, you’ll hear Pavarotti sing it:

 donna e mobile


On the same trip, during my visit to a petting zoo, I witnessed a horrible and a most absurd accident in which a small baby, bundled in his father’s arms, was attacked by a donkey.

Ah, la maledizione! 

Some say that women are fickle. It may be so, but so is the fortune.


This is my entry for Cardinal Guzman’s monthly photo challenge Changing Seasons.


27 Comments on “Fortune is Fickle i.e. May in Mantua

  1. Pingback: The Changing Seasons: May 2016 – Cardinal Guzman

  2. “At last the moment of vengeance is at hand!”
    Yes!! 😀 I’m glad I don’t have to wear a hat like that. Thanks for the entry Paula. I’m at work, so I’ll read through it later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, DM. I only just realised how many people fail to read the whole text. Thank you for not being superficial on my blog.


  3. Really enjoyed your entry on Mantua , Paula , and the popular aria ‘s lyrics in English ….
    People my age , in Italy , surely recognize the Italian ones , since our grandfathers used to sing opera’s arias cuddling their grandsons….!


    • Thank you for reading Linda. When people first hear the aria, they do not imagine that it is part of a tragic story. I still have nightmares from seeing what I saw. It ruined my short holiday.


  4. Oh my goodness the incident at the petting zoo sounds awful Paula. As a New Grandmother it actually made my stomach turn. Hopefully the baby did not suffer lasting injuries.


    • There is no way that I can learn how badly the baby was injured cause I don’t know the people, but I still dream about it. It was his father’s fault entirely, but it does not diminish the gravity of this absurd situation. A 4 month old baby has no business being introduced to a donkey.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I hope the images fade from your dreams Paula. When I have witnessed or assisted with accidents I find the not knowing the outcome very difficult. Sending hugs across the miles.


        • Yes, that’s it, cause I keep imagining smashed little fingers, amputated etc. and it torments me. I was hesitant about writing about it in this post, but the absurd death of Rigoletto’s daughter and this absurd accident provoked by a father was too much of a coincidence and also I selfishly thought that writing about it will make my nightmares stop. Thank you for reading, Sue.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. The number of times I’ve heard this piece of music and done no more than enjoy Pavarotti! 🙂 Thank you for the explanation.


This box is reserved for sharing positive vibes.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: