"Pagliacci", Opera San José, November 1996

Pagliacci Logo (Logo lifted from LA Opera.)

I am delighted to be appearing in the chorus for "Pagliacci" at Opera San José, from November 9th to 24th, 1996. This page provides a little information for your enjoyment, and hopefully will entice you to come see the show (and me)!

About the Opera

It's an exciting show. Both casts of principals are marvellous: wonderful voices, funny shticks, and heart-rending performances. And it has all the traditional old world values: violence, anger, wife-beating, mocking of cripples, and incipient fascism. What more could you ask for?

I just realised why opera plots are generally so ridiculous. Opera as a medium is great at expressing emotion; it's pretty lousy at explaining a plot. And "Pagliacci" is a great example. In rehearsal this show is just withering. But the run-of-the-mill plot summary is a real yawner. So let me give you the emotional plot.

The Emotional Plot

Bored sleepy Italian village. Your mayor, your wives and mothers, your priest (that's me) and nuns, your kids, your young men in the neat uniforms of the new "fascist" party that's sweeping Italy. In comes the travelling show. Excitement! Spectacle! Celebrity! Happy reunions with the troupers. Jokes. Teasing. A silly joke about infidelity taken seriously. A hint of rage. Puzzlement. Rage disappears. Oh never mind. A religious ceremony, a deep and reassuring tradition, but the fascists almost crash it. Averted. Off to church.

Amongst the troupers: The cripple tries seducing the diva/wife. Rejection Scorn. And so, anger, bitterness, lust for revenge. Lover appears. Joy. Doubt. Lover's quarrel. Making up. Love. Lust. Hormones spill all over the stage. Spurned cripple overhears. Revenge! Brings star/husband to listen. Rage! Suspicions confirmed. Attack! Lunge! Lover runs away. Who is it? Break it up! Trouble averted, for now. Star ponders: betrayal, pain, anger, confusion, anger... anger. On with the show.

The show. Excitement. Confusion. Distractions. Settling down (finally). The show! Anticipation, familiarity. Laughter. Ridicule. Pratfalls. Then suddenly: Rage! No, it's gone. Never mind. No, again: Rage, really! What's happening? Doubt. Fear. Confusion. Guilt. Betrayal. Pain. Finally, violence... death. And then anguish, more and more anguish.

About this production

"Pagliacci" (Clowns), by Ruggero Leoncavallo; a double bill with La Voix Humane by Francis Poulenc.

Presented by Opera San José at the Montgomery Theatre, San Carlos and Market Streets, in downtown San Jose, California. Tickets range from $33 to $42. Mastercard and Visa are welcome. For more information, call the Box Office at +1-408-437-4450.

Performance dates:

November  9    10   12   14   15   16   17   19   21   23   24
1996     Sat  Sun  Tue  Thu  Fri  Sat  Sun  Tue  Thu  Sat  Sun
         8pm  3pm  8pm  8pm  8pm  8pm  3pm  8pm  8pm  8pm  3pm


     Nov. 9, 12, 15,         10, 14, 16,
         17, 21, 23          19, 24
Nedda    Barbara Divis       Maureen Magill
Canio    Matthew Kirchner    Richard Nickol
Tonio    David Cox           Brian Carter
Silvio   Andrew Eisenmann    Nmon Ford-Livene
Beppe    Michael Sommese     Joe Meyers
Conductor      Barbara Day Turner
Director       Lillian Garrett-Groag

The parts of several hundred townspeople are played by a chorus of about 17 people, among them yours truly.

More on "Pagilacci"

Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs recommends a couple of recordings. I picked up the Deutsche Grammophon recording with Karajan and La Scala, starring Carlo Bergonzi and Joan Carlyle (DG 449 727-2). I'm happy with it. Penguin is also keen on an RCA recording with Seunti and the LSO, starring Placido Domingo and Monserrat Caballé (BMG/RCA GD 60865-2). Operaworld also has their recommendations.

Other performances. You just missed an impressive cast at the LA Opera, California in Septmber 1996. There was a May 1994 performance by my beloved West Bay Opera, Palo Alto, California. And you can find more. The American Opera association lists upcoming US and world productions. Operabase.com can list major upcoming European performances.

Elsewhere on the Web. The indispensable Opera Glass has a ton of useful links. Yahoo's opera page is always a good bet. And, you can simply search the Web like this.

Spelling tips. I am reliably informed that the proper title of the opera is "Pagliacci", meaning "Clowns". The term "I Pagliacci" ("The Clowns") is often used, too.

Last updated 10/29/96. Maintained by Jim DeLaHunt.
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