by Jessica WELDHEN
Leoncavallo’s ‘Pagliacci’ is an opera in two acts and a prologue that unfolds into a classic triangle drama with tragic consequences as it follows the private lives of a small theatrical road company in Southern Italy, in the late 1860s. It chronicles the turbulent tale of a jealous husband, whose anger at the discovery of his wife’s infidelity spills over into their performance, leading to a dramatic on-stage murder.
Nedda, the young wife of Canio (the head of the troupe) has fallen in love with Silvio, a villager. Canio is told of his wife’s betrayal by Tonio (a clown who is also secretly pursuing Nedda’s affections), but has to go on stage and make people laugh whilst he tries to hide his heartbroken state. The enthralled audience are unaware of the personal anguish that lies beneath the comedy, but Canio can no longer suppress his real-life fury and, triggered by a line of Tonio’s character, abandons the script of the play and stabs both Nedda and her lover, before announcing the end of the performance.
‘Pagliacci’ is a darkly passionate opera, whose layers of complex emotion will make for a spectacular performance at the beautiful Teatro dell’Opera.
(19th – 27th May 2009, Teatro dell’Opera, Piazza Beniamino Gigli, 1, 00184 Rome, Italy)