Le Roi s'Amuse
Le Roi s'Amuse (lit. "the King amuses himself" or "the King has fun") is a French play in five acts written Victor Hugo ().
The original text
First performed on 22 November 1832, the play was banned by the French government after one evening, and, despite vain court battles, remained so for 50 years.
It finally had a second performance at the Comédie-Française on 22 November 1882, the date of the play's 50th anniversary, leading to 19 performances that year and 28 more in 1883.
Translations and adaptations
Most notably the play was used as the source for Rigoletto, an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi ().
Besides the verisons of the opera (see below), the play has seen adaptation inter alia
Giuseppe Verdi's 1851 opera Rigoletto is based on Hugo's play, which the librettist Piave followed closely in his Italian translation. 
In 1918 the Austrian film Rigoletto was made starring Hermann Benke and Liane Haid. The 1941 film Il re si diverte is also an adaptation of Hugo's play, and starred Michel Simon as the jester.
Tony Harrison translated and adapted the work for the National Theatre in London in 1996, as The Prince's Play, set in Victorian London, with the central character (played by Ken Stott) now a comic at the court of Victoria and the philanderer villain the future Edward VII. The play has been published by Faber and Faber.
A simplified version of the plot is used by Damon Runyon to grisly effect in his story 'Sense of Humour' (from the collection Furthermore (1938).
Because of censorship by the Austrian authorities in Venice, the authors set the story in Mantua, and renamed the characters, e.g. with François the First becoming the Duke of Mantua, Triboulet becoming Rigoletto, and Blanche becoming Gilda, and so on.
It tells the tragic story of the licentious Duke of Mantua, his hunch-backed court jester Rigoletto, and Rigoletto's beautiful daughter Gilda.
The opera's was originally called La Maledizione ("The Curse"), and refers to a curse placed on both the Duke and Rigoletto by a courtier whose daughter the Duke has seduced with Rigoletto's encouragement.
Despite serious initial problems with the Austrian censors who had control over northern Italian theatres at the time, the Verdi opera had a triumphant premiere at La Fenice in Venice on 11 March 1851.
A number of film versions have been made, including Rigoletto (1918), Rigoletto e la sua tragedia (1956), Rigoletto (1982), Rigoletto (1993) and Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto Story (2005). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigoletto.
Performance history in South Africa
Go to ESAT Bibliography
Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays
Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays
Return to PLAYS III: Collections
Return to South African Festivals and Competitions
Return to The ESAT Entries
Return to Main Page