The main character of this opera is Rigoletto, the court jester of the Duke of Mantua. An ugly man with a hump, but he does a good job as a fool. The courtiers, however, are not enthusiastic about being insulted again and again in front of the Duke’s eyes. The Duke himself is a womanizer and has fallen in love with Gilda, who unknowingly is the fool’s daughter. Count Monterone appears to complain about the Duke, who also seduced his daughter. After some palaver, he curses the Duke and his fool Rigoletto.
Finally, the courtiers notice that Rigoletto lives “secretly” with the beautiful Gilda, his daughter. Unaware that this is his daughter, they kidnap Gilda and bring her to the Duke’s bed. Rigoletto swears revenge and hires the robber Sparafucile, who happens to have a pretty sister – Maddalena.
With Maddalena as bait, Rigoletto and Sparafucile are planning a plot. To show Gilda that the Duke is unfaithful. On top of that, he is also to be murdered immediately.
The plan goes wrong. Gilda himself is seriously injured, the duke remains cheerful and unscathed, and Rigoletto almost and unsuspectingly sinks his half-dead daughter in the river. She dies singing in his arms and the miserable Rigoletto howls because the curse has now come.