Pagliacci - Michigan Opera Theatre

All performances of Pagliacci are canceled.
Reimbursement information here.

Overview

Leoncavallo’s audience favorite tells of a love, heartbreak, betrayal, and clowns! Pagliacci chronicles the behind-the-scenes fallout among a traveling troupe of clowns in Southern Italy. Based on a real-life love triangle known to Leoncavallo, the opera is regarded for the searing aria  Vesti la giubba (Put on the Costume), which is sung by Canio as he prepares for the final performance in which he will confront his wife, Nedda, who is secretly involved with Silvio, a young villager.

Fast Facts

Opera in two acts
Music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Premiered 1892 in Milan

This production
Sung in Italian with English titles
Run time is one hour, 15 minutes

Artists

Diego Torre

Canio

Mark Delavan

Tonio

Marina Costa-Jackson

Nedda

Chris Kenney

Silvio

Matthew DiBattista

Beppe

Renato Balsadonna

Conductor

Elaine Tyler-Hall

Director

Synopsis

Act I
A company of touring actors arrives. The head of the troupe, Canio, announces that the performance will begin at the “23rd hour,” that is, one hour before sunset. When a person in the crowd jokingly suggests that Tonio, a fellow actor, is courting Canio’s wife, Nedda, behind his back, Canio angrily warns the crowd that the joke isn’t funny. Canio goes off to Mamma Lucia’s bar to enjoy a drink. People gather in church, leaving Nedda alone with her thoughts.

While Silvio sets the tables, Nedda expresses her dream to be free as soaring birds, sweetly provoking her young lover. Soon afterward, Tonio, who has witnessed Nedda’s reverie, declares his passion for her, but, when Nedda mocks him, he tries to force himself on her. She manages to strike him. Silvio arrives and urges Nedda to flee with him. Tonio spies on the lovers and reports the tryst to Canio. A chase ensues, but Silvio manages to escape before Canio can recognize him. Tonio advises Canio to wait until evening for vengeance. Alone, Canio laments his lot as an actor: he must laugh through his tears for the audience’s amusement. Mamma Lucia, who has witnessed his despair, consoles him with a drink.

Act II
The villagers assemble to see the play. Taking advantage of the commotion, Nedda exchanges a few words with Silvio, assuring him of their midnight elopement. The commedia, based on the familiar tale of Pagliaccio and Colombina, begins. In the absence of her husband Pagliaccio (played by Canio), Colombina (Nedda) is serenaded by her lover, Arlecchino (Beppe). Together they drive away her servant, the buffoon Taddeo (Tonio), and plot to poison Pagliaccio, whose sudden return interrupts their flirting. After Arlecchino has escaped, Taddeo, with pointed malice, assures Pagliaccio of his wife’s “innocence.” Obsessed with jealousy, Canio forgets he is onstage and demands that Nedda name her lover. She tries desperately to continue the comedy, but the audience begins to comprehend the reality of the situation. Maddened by her continued defiance, Canio first stabs Nedda and then Silvio, who has rushed forward to help her. In absolute despair, Lucia cries, “La commedia è finita.” (“The comedy is over.”)

-Courtesy San Francisco Opera

Sponsors

This production is additionally supported by the J. Earnest & Almena Grey Wilde Fund

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Fast Facts

Opera in two acts
Music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Premiered 1892 in Milan

This production
Sung in Italian with English titles
Run time is one hour, 15 minutes

Sponsors

This production is additionally supported by the J. Earnest & Almena Grey Wilde Fund