In conventional spectroscopy, transitions between electronic levels are governed by the electric dipole selection rule because electric quadrupole, magnetic dipole, and coupled electric dipole-magnetic dipole transitions are forbidden in a far field. We demonstrated that by using nanostructured electromagnetic fields, the selection rules of absorption spectroscopy could be fundamentally manipulated. We also show that forbidden transitions between discrete quantum levels in a semiconductor nanorod structure are allowed within the near-field of a noble metal nanoparticle. Atomistic simulations analyzed by an effective mass model reveal the breakdown of the dipolar selection rules where quadrupole and octupole transitions are allowed. Our demonstration could be generalized to the use of nanostructured near-fields for enhancing light-matter interactions that are typically weak or forbidden.