The current Michael Mayer production of Verdi‘s Rigoletto at The Met has been dubbed The Rat Pack Rigoletto, set as Mayer has it in 1960 Las Vegas, replete with showgirls, mob bosses and the title character as a cut-up bartender (Mayer claims that Don Rickles was his inspiration, the similarities in name a comic coincidence; The New York Times review is here).
Modern stagings of operas irk many. Production values are, without question, the first and most discussed aspect of any performance on any of our tours. If folks are unhappy with a production, they usually aren’t shy about letting you know (I’ve had tour members actually walk out of productions, mostly in Germany, oddly enough).
I am not averse to “modern” interpretations of operas, not in the least. Even if a staging fails to enhance the work’s musical value, fails to move the music forward, then so long as it doesn’t actually distract the beholder and detract from the music, then have at it. Too often directors attempt to leave a thumbprint on a production, being clever for clever’s sake.