Cavalleria rusticana / Pagliacci

Pietro Mascagni adapted Giovanni Verga’s play Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) for a competition held by the music publisher Edoardo Sonzogno. His opera, a verismo masterpiece, won the competition and became a tremendous success on its premiere on 17 May 1890. Cavalleria rusticana influenced many operas that followed, including Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (1892). Italian director Damiano Michieletto (Guillaume Tell) directs a double programme of both works for The Royal Opera. He updates the works to southern Italy in the late 20th century, to a village in the grip of poverty and hypocrisy, where strong passions lurk in the dark.

Unusually for the time, Mascagni composed Cavalleria rusticana in set numbers – arias, duets and ensembles – rather than making it through-composed. He turns this structure to great advantage, using this formalism to detail the lives of his doomed characters within their repressive, repressed community, and to turn the screw as the opera hurtles towards its tragic end. Turiddu’s brindisi ‘Viva il vino spumeggiante’, Santuzza’s melancholic ‘Voi lo sapete, o mama’ and the Easter Hymn are among the musical highlights.

Music –   Pietro Mascagni
                Ruggero Leoncavallo (Pagliacci)
Libretto –  Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti
                 Ruggero Leoncavallo (Pagliacci)
Libretto – Guido Menasci     
Director – Damiano Michieletto    
Set designs – Paolo Fantin   
Costume designs – Carla Teti   
Lighting design – Alessandro Carletti
   

Program and cast

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April 2019

Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera is a company based in central London, resident at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Along with the English National Opera, it is one of the two principal opera companies in London. Founded in 1946 as the Covent Garden Opera Company, it was known by that title until 1968. It brought a long annual season and consistent management to a house that had previously hosted short seasons under a series of impresarios. Since its inception, it has shared the Royal Opera House with the dance company now known as The Royal Ballet.
 

When the company was formed, its policy was to perform all works in English, but since the late 1950s most operas have been given in the original language. From the outset, performers have comprised a mixture of British and Commonwealth singers and international guest stars, but fostering the careers of singers from within the company was a consistent policy of the early years. Among the many guest performers have been Maria Callas, Plácido Domingo, Kirsten Flagstad, Hans Hotter, Birgit Nilsson, Luciano Pavarotti and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Among those who have risen to international prominence from the ranks of the company are Geraint Evans, Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa and Jon Vickers.
 

The company's growth under the management of David Webster from modest beginnings to parity with the world's greatest opera houses was recognised by the grant of the title "The Royal Opera" in 1968. Under Webster's successor, John Tooley, appointed in 1970, The Royal Opera prospered, but after his retirement in 1988, there followed a period of instability and the closure of the Royal Opera House for rebuilding and restoration between 1997 and 1999. The 21st century has seen a stable managerial regime once more in place. The company has had six music directors since its inception: Karl Rankl, Rafael Kubelík, Georg Solti, Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink and Antonio Pappano.

Transport

Underground
Covent Garden tube station on the Piccadilly Line.
Visit the Transport for London website to plan your journey.

Buses
1, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 26, 68, 76, 77a, 91, 168, 171, 176, 188, 501 (southbound only), 505, 521, X68 all go to the Aldwych, which is close to the Theatre.


Parking
There is no designated parking at the Royal Opera House for ticket holders. The nearest NCP car parks are five minutes’ walk away at Drury Lane and Shelton Street. There is a drop-off point outside the Bow Street entrance. A limited number of orange badge bays are available in the vicinity, but are not reserved for the use of Royal Opera House patrons.

 

Entrances

    The New Arcade in the corner of Covent Garden Piazza.
    Bow Street at the right-hand end of the main entrance portico (close to the lifts to the Amphitheatre).
    Bow Street immediately to the left of the Paul Hamlyn Hall (close to the Box Office and Information Desk).

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