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.