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Letter: Walter? He’s Scheming in Mantua

To the Editor:

This is in reference to your June 15 piece by staff writer Alex Hanson, “Where’s Walter? A Fine Name Fades, and That’s a Shame.”

“Fades”? I’m not so sure.

Some of my best friends are Walters. And the name Walter will endure at least as long as Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto endures — which will probably be until the end of Western civilization.

“Gualtier” is the Italian equivalent of Walter. Rigoletto, in the opera’s title role, is the hunchbacked jester in the court of the duke of Mantua. Gualtier is the caro nome (dear name) of whom Rigoletto’s innocent daughter Gilda sings. The libertine duke of Mantua has been wooing Gilda secretly if briefly, posing as a poor student with the pseudonym Gualtier Maldè. Seduced by his words, Gilda is “transported” both emotionally and physically to the bedchamber of the lecherous duke.

For the moment, just forget how the gruesome fourth and final act turns out. It is earlier, in the second act, when Gilda so naively sings of that “dear name”and some of the most sublime music written by Verdi — or anyone else — pours forth.

So what if this particular Walter is a fraud? For young Gilda, overwhelmed by first love, Gualtier Maldè is the dear name that she will hold in her heart until her final sigh. Not a bad recommendation for a name.

Jim Hughes

West Fairlee

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