Verdi's Rigoletto is one of those musical dramas that is virtually foolproof if certain basics are met. There needs to be a sweet-toned tenor to play the rakish Duke of Mantua and sing his famous aria La donna e mobile. To play Gilda, the 16-year-old seduced by the Duke, there must be a coloratura soprano capable of high-flying vocal acrobatics.
But those roles pale in comparison to the title character, which may be the ultimate test for a baritone. The hunchbacked jester, Verdi wrote, was a divided man: "Grossly deformed and absurd but inwardly passionate and full of love."
Sergei Moskalkov sings Rigoletto with Teatro Lirico D'Europa on its U.S. tour, which stops at Ruth Eckerd Hall for a performance at 8 p.m. Friday. $35-$45. (727) 791-7400.
Orlando Opera also is staging Rigoletto, with Mark Rucker as the tragic clown. Rucker, who has sung the role more than 300 times, gave a moving portrayal two years ago with Opera Tampa. The Orlando production has performances at 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Carr Performing Arts Centre, 401 W Livingston St., Orlando. $20-$65. Toll-free 1-800-336-7372.
'A show your mother would love'
Mamaleh! bills itself as the musical "about life - your life." That certainly applies to Shirley Quiat, Kate Lorber and Florence Uscher. They grew up together in the Bronx, and now they're grandmothers and still close friends. Their story is told by playwright and lyricist Mitchell Uscher, son of Florence and nephew of Shirley, with music by Roy Singer. The musical recently was chosen from more than 250 scripts as winner of the "Shows Your Mother Would Love" competition at Queens Theatre in the Park in New York.
Uscher directs Sharon Lesley, Betty Robinson and Dina LaVee Wilson in a Skyway Productions staging of Mamaleh!. Performances are at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg. $20-$24. (727) 822-3590.