Don’t be put off by the unappealing plot of Verdi’s Rigoletto. A physically disabled jester keeps his innocent daughter locked up, only letting her out for weekly church visits. She is then seduced by the powerful Duke, and it all ends very badly. Rigoletto believes a curse is to blame for his daughter eventually being killed, although she dies as a substitute for the man Rigoletto himself has arranged to be assassinated. It’s a tragic, sexist and uncomfortable story which belongs firmly in the 16th century. But for this 2013 production, director Michael Mayer injects some life by updating the story to 1960s Vegas, where the powerful, swinging lifestyles of the Duke and his associates, mixed with a cruel twist of fate, ruin the life of the title character.

There’s a lot of casino colour in this modern setting which makes it well suited to watching on-screen – even if the glamour won’t please purists. The Rat Pack of the 1950s and the 1960s is a major stylistic influence here, with mics and smoking jackets thrown in. Subtitles are in a relaxed translation. You might remember the glitz of the 60s Vegas staging most, but musically it’s a decent performance. Željko Lučić as Rigoletto is solid in his role, while Soprano Diana Damrau is just about believable as his daughter, her mellow voice tackling the considerable technical demands of her part well – she is better in the lower parts of the register here. But Mr Lučić and Ms Damrau’s voices blend well – watch out for their duet in Act I.

Michele Mariotti conducts the Met orchestra with a pacy energy, moving on from a stodgy start to hold everything together well. Tenor Piotr Beczala as the Duke (not specifically of Mantua in this translation) has a cocky, charming stage presence and a flexible voice, owning difficult arias including “La donna è mobile”. He sings the part well enough, coming across almost as a lovable rogue rather than being particularly sinister. The part was reprised at the Met later in 2013 by Vittorio Grigolo to less critical acclaim. One of the best vocal performances comes from Štefan Kocán as Sparafucile. He is brilliantly cast as the sly assassin, with a silky bass voice and a naturally foreboding presence.

The ending to this opera is abrupt. Rigoletto has been fixated with a perceived curse upon his head since Act I. Finding his daughter dead in his car boot, he sings of his misery, cries “the curse!” and then... that’s it, folks. The curse is the one piece of superstition that doesn’t fit in the 1960s setting. But the drama is generally well paced, using the chaos of the busy casino to good effect and making the most of slick choreography – the mob of men in smoking jackets move together like a predatory pack, and the set was appropriately plush. The less busy scenes pale in comparison.

Neon lights and brightly coloured smoking jackets make refreshing, if superficial ingredients in this smooth re-setting of Verdi’s Rigoletto, which is conventionally given a more ponderous setting. But they are just wallpaper to a production which is satisfying on the whole. The story is slightly lost in its glamorous setting, but it’s well sung nonetheless.