Opera Review: Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci

Opera Review: Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci

This fascinating double bill, directed by Andrew Sinclair, is a strong representation of the works of Mascagni and Ruggero, both first performed in the 1890’s. Sung in Italian with English surtitles both pieces are very focused on presenting the darker side of life.

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Presented by State Opera
Reviewed 18 Apr 2017

This fascinating double bill, directed by Andrew Sinclair, is a strong representation of the works of Mascagni and Ruggero, both first performed in the 1890’s. Sung in Italian with English surtitles both pieces are very focused on presenting the darker side of life.

In the first, Turiddu, sung beautifully by Rosario La Spina, begins while serenading Lola (Catriona Barr) who is married to Alfio (Jeremy Tatchell), meanwhile Turiddu is promised to Santuza, sung with much emotion by Jaqueline Dark, often in opposition to Teresa La Rocca who plays Turiddu’s mother with much fire.. All this set against a culture that is at the same time deeply catholic and extremely macho. The inevitable jealousy and revenge ensue. La Spina and Dark evoke much emotion in their exchanges and Santuza’s betrayal of the illicit love to the husband can only have one conclusion.

All this is occurring on Easter Sunday and part of the backdrop is some exquisite choral work by the State Opera Chorus and the Adelaide Philharmonia Chorus led by Chorus Master Tim Sexton, ably supported by the Adelaide Arts Orchestra, and under the baton of conductor Nicholas Braithwaite. There were some one hundred and sixty people involved in this performance.

I Pagliacci had a different feel, but was as dark. Canio, the clown, and his wife Nedda, prepare with Tonio, the Hunchback for the coming show. Again the lead Canio, is taken by La Spina, who despite the flaws of his character engenders sympathy with his emotional rendition of the part. Joanna McWaters as Nedda rejects the advances of Tonio and displays her fear and loneliness in her abusive marriage. Her love of Silvio (Jeremy Tatchell) and their plan to escape together enrages Tonio. The delicate balance between these three characters and their dual roles is well handled and the singing is superb.

The stage is again set for tragedy: with Beppe (Adam Goodburn) playing the onstage lover and innocent bystander, the production ends in blood. With well thought out sets and costumes, this is a strong piece of theatre and a great way to see two operas that are not often performed.

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Venue: Festival Theatre
Season: 18-22 April 2017
Duration: 3 hr
Bookings: http://saopera.sa.gov.au/cavalleria-rusticana-pagliacci/

 

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