PORTLAND — PORTopera will present one of Giuseppe Verdi’s great masterpieces, “Rigoletto,” as its 20th season production; performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 23 and Friday, July 25. Both performances, with full orchestra conducted by Stephen Lord and under the direction of PORTopera Artistic Director Dona D. Vaughn, will take place at Merrill Auditorium.

In three acts, “Rigoletto” tells the story of the womanizing Duke of Mantua, his sidekick Rigoletto, and Rigoletto’s daughter, Gilda. This production is set in early-20th-century America although the world of intrigue, murder and deception remains timeless. Among the beautiful classics contained in “Rigoletto,” “La Donna è Mobile,” is one of the most widely recognized arias. The opera will be sung in Italian with English supertitles.

“Rigoletto” will be conducted by Stephen Lord, one of only four conductors chosen by Opera News for its “25 Most Powerful Names in U.S. Opera.” Lord has led orchestras throughout the U.S., Canada, and overseas. Frequenters of PORTopera’s productions will remember his last appearance for “Madama Butterfly” in 2012.

The adventurous director of opera programs at the Manhattan School of Music, now in her 11th year as PORTopera’s artistic director, Dona D. Vaughn has several surprises waiting in the wings for this year’s production. Her take will feature a razor-sharp and steely cool cutting edge, as she weaves an eerie tableau for Verdi’s dark tale.

Whether at Carnegie Hall or on tour in South America, Weston Hurt’s crushing baritone excels at captivating audiences and the resounding ovations he receives are a testament to his breathtaking talent. Hurt sings the role of Rigoletto. He sang the well-received role of Peter in PORTopera’s 2010 production of “Hansel and Gretel.”

Korean soprano Hae Ji Chang appears as Gilda. Last year marked her debut appearance with the Metropolitan Opera as Liù in “Turandot.” After singing Euridice under his baton in “Orfeo ed Euridice” with the New England Conservatory Philharmonia, Chang is a particular favorite of guest conductor Lord.

Anthony Kalil was named to the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program in 2012. This season he debuted at the Met as The Young Man in “Die Frau Ohne Schatten” and appeared in the “I Sing Beijing” program in Beijing. He sings the role of the Duke in “Rigoletto.”

Currently a member of Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Soloman Howard (bass) is garnering superlatives from the press for his vivid performances on the opera and concert stages, including as the King in “Aida” with the Metropolitan Opera. He will appear with PORTopera as Sparafucile; previously he sang the role of The Bonze in PORTopera’s “La Boheme.”

Christin-Marie Hill, the young American mezzo-soprano who appears as Maddelena, is captivating audiences and critics alike with her thrilling performances. Most recently she was a soloist in Verdi’s “Requiem” with the Arkansas Symphony, sang Mrs. Miller in Douglas J. Cuomo’s opera “Doubt” in New York, covered the role for the opera’s world premiere at Minnesota Opera, and made her debut as Amneris with the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra at the Stadthalle in Bayreuth, Germany.

Tickets range from $41-$105 and are available at www.porttix.com or at 20 Myrtle St., noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit www.portopera.org.

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