At a party at his Court, the Duke of Mantua is entertaining his guests and looking for a new conquest. The Duke sings about his womanizing ways, stating that it does not matter which one he has (“Questa o Quella”). The Duke seduces Countess Ceprano, in front of the Count, and the entire court. Rigoletto, the court jester, mocks the Count for being a cuckold in front of the other courtiers. The Duke returns, cavalier at having shamed the Countess. Count Monterone enters in a burst of anger, seeking revenge of the Duke because the Duke seduced his daughter and took her virginity. Rigoletto again takes the floor and publicly mocks Monterone as entertainment for the Court causing Monterone curses Rigoletto.
Rigoletto returns home after the party, disturbed by the curse that was placed upon him, when he is approached in the dark by Sparafucile, an assassin (“Quel vecchio maledivami”). Sparafucile offers him his services, but Rigoletto sends him away. Rigoletto remarks