Leoncavallo: Pagliacci & Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana

Release Date: 9 April, 2021

Label: Naxos

Running time: 157 mins

Synopsis

The Prologue appears and warns that what we are about to see and hear is an attempt to depart from the traditional way of presenting lyrical theatre works.

Pagliacci

A troop of actors led by Canio arrives and is greeted by an enthusiastic audience who look forward to seeing them perform later that night.

Backstage, Canio’s wife Nedda once again rejects the actor Tonio who is in love with her. Furious, Tonio swears he will have revenge. When he overhears Nedda promise her lover, Silvio, that she will leave the theatre troupe after that night’s performance and run away with him, Tonio informs Canio. He surprises the couple, but Silvio manages to run away. When Canio threatens Nedda physically if she refuses to reveal her lover’s name, Tonio and Beppe, another actor, intervene.

Canio must prepare to perform his role of cuckolded husband, a role which has now also become the reality of his life.

The audience arrive, including Silvio, and the comedy begins. Nedda plays the part of Colombina who cuckolds her unsuspecting husband Pagliaccio (Canio), with the handsome Arlecchino (Beppe), while the foolish servant Thaddeo (Tonio), is ridiculed for attempting to seduce Colombina. Stage action and real-life increasingly mirror one another, until Canio forgets which role he is playing and stabs first his wife and then her lover to death. The comedy is over.

Cavalleria rusticana

Turiddu was in love with Lola, but when he returned from military service, he discovered that she had married Alfio. On the rebound he started a relationship with Santuzza. But Turiddu has tired of her and has secretly started up again with Lola. Santuzza suspects that Turiddu is unfaithful to her, and confronts first his mother, Mamma Lucia, who says she cannot intervene, and then Turiddu himself. She begs her lover to return to her, but Turiddu refuses to yield to her jealous pleas and threats, and rejects her. In revenge Santuzza tells Alfio what Lola and Turiddu have been doing behind his back. Alfio confronts Turiddu and they duel. Turiddu is killed.