Mascagni's 'Cavalleria Rusticana;' Leoncavallo's 'Pagliacci'

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Marcelo Alvarez as Canio in Leoncavallo's 'Pagliacci.' Marcelo Alvarez as Canio in Leoncavallo's 'Pagliacci.' (Cory Weaver/Metropolitan Opera)

Join us Saturday at 12:30 pm for a broadcast of opera's favorite twin bill: Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci.

Marcelo Álvarez stars in both operas, as the faithless Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana and the heartbroken clown Canio in Pagliacci. Eva-Maria Westbroek is Santuzza, the wronged Sicilian heroine of Cavalleria Rusticana, and Patricia Racette is Nedda, the adulterous wife in Pagliacci. George Gagnidze also stars in both operas, singing the principal baritone roles of Alfio and Tonio, while Pagliacci also features Lucas Meachem as Silvio, Nedda’s lover. The double bill, directed by Sir David McVicar, is conducted by Fabio Luisi.


Conductor: Fabio Luisi
Santuzza: Eva-Maria Westbroek
Turiddu: Marcelo Álvarez
Alfio: George Gagnidze
Nedda: Patricia Racette
Canio: Marcelo Álvarez
Tonio: George Gagnidze
Silvio: Lucas Meachem
George Gagnidze as Alfio in Mascagni's 'Cavalleria Rusticana.'

Comments [16]

Oh, has everyone forgotten Cornell MacNeil? That was a fantastic voice & Milnes before his vocal problems. I have 3 Pag's with Tibbett & a few Met b'casts with Warren. NO comparison to bellowing Gagnidze. Tibbett & Warren were the "gold standard".Suave, emotive, & yet powerful without bellowing.
We really don't have good Verdi Baritone's. Just listened to a Rigoletto with Nucci. He sang it the right way a la Tibbett et al. Not as singers today.

May. 01 2015 05:48 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

@Les: thanks for fine comments. DiStefano and Bjoerling, Caruso, yes, yes. DiStefano had clarity and artistry. Gagnidze's voice, no, no. Bellowing.

Apr. 26 2015 10:12 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Correction: I have to correct the misspelling due to arthritic fingers of Ettore Bastianini mentioned in my comment.

Apr. 26 2015 09:16 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

I have the feeling that many of today's singers are "phoning in" their performances because the costumes/stagings are inappropriate and perverse. To quote Noam Chomsky and Leonard Bernstein in the Norton Lectures, they are "mismatched semantic components"; and unless you're intending dramatic irony, you get what the Met's offering these days unless you close your eyes. I think Mr. Al`varez's Turiddu/Canio are works in progress by a serious artist who should be listened to whenever he performs. Di Stefano remarked that he thought Al`varez was like him when he was younger. Contrariwise, Richard Tucker said in an "Opera News on the Air" interview, that I'm sure many remember, that he wouldn't sing Canio until he was over 50 years of age, despite many offers. Mr.Gagnidze's voice seems tight and pushed on the whole. I long for the molten, continuing outpouring of tone and overtones such as from the likes of Tibbett, Warren, de Luca, Bastianni and, judging from the acoustical recordings of legends like Pasquale Amato and Antonio Scotti. I again found Ms. Westbroek's soprano somewhat belabored by a wide vibrato, which I didn't hear or find objectionable to in her incandescent "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District" performance. Curious. My paragons for Turiddu are Gigli, di Stefano, Bjoerling (more dramatic and emotional live than in the superb recordings with Milanov and Tebaldi), and Corelli. My paragons, including Caruso's "Vesti la Giubba" (all that I've heard of him in this role) for Canio (whom I've heard in the complete role) are Martinelli, Gigli, del Monaco and Tucker. The Mascagni-Gigli recording has already been discussed. There's a recording of "I Pagliacci" supervised by Leoncallo with Antonio Paoli as Canio dating from 1907 that shouldn't be forgotten, either. Here's authenticity, all right.

Apr. 26 2015 09:03 AM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

@KBL: Thanks for your kind comments. Tucker's brother in law was I believe Jan Peerce who was a superb musician. He was Toscanini's favorite tenor. He was in a film with Diana Durban. He was police officer and she was in jail for traffic violation, I think. They did the duet from the last act of Il Trovatore. Sung in English. Still remember that film but forgot the title. Rented it out from Netflix. I am 78 years old and still full of p--s and vinegar. Partially handicapped, use walker, cannot climb stairs and must use chair lift. BUT I still cook and move around, keep busy and foment Revolution.
Best wishes

Apr. 26 2015 07:07 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute,, Boonton, NJ

CONCETTA and CAVANAUGH, you both have it right. RICHARD TUCKER was a full-throated, pitch perfect singer with excellent articulation of the texts. During the thirty tears I studied with maestro LASZLO HALASZ at his both homes in Port Washington, Long Island, TUCKER would rehearse his roles with him. Halasz was particularly keen on the pronunciation of doubled consonants and singing everything with the most precise diction, no matter what the pitch and even on the so-called bridge of the voice [ F sharp for the higher voices]. You might not have guessed it but I am 87 years old, born on February 23rd, 1928. My running, skiing and mountain climbing, all in the appropriate seasons, besides daily workouts in in our neighborhood gym and running track and training singers for the Wagner roles by demonstrating my vocal technique several hours each day has kept me in good spirits and looking far younger than i am. I am lucky to have found my niche early in life.. Best wishes to you. Keep your informed comments coming.

Apr. 25 2015 05:09 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

When Tucker sang in French he was wonderful because he would get the voice out of the throat. Yes, and you could understand him. I have the recording of Mascagni conducting Cavalleria with Gigli and he might have taken it a little slow but yeah, what audacity in the criticism.

Apr. 25 2015 03:35 PM

Does anyone remember the 50th anniversary of Fedora's debut which mounted a Cav for her from Washington & televised. She sang Mamma Lucia. And Bravo to you Mr. Lane, well commented. I too miss MDM and Corelli. But I also miss Tucker. Whatever the nay sayers spout, his voice was clear, never flat, and you could understand everything he sang. Vickers was no slouch in Pag either but the line kind of ended there. Where have all the full throated tenors gone?
As for the Mascagni/Gigli collaboration,when it was released on CD, I remember two "expert opera reviwers" give that recording a thumbs down. What audacity!
I also have a Met b'cast of Cav with Zinka. At the end of her duet with Alfio she interpolated a high Bb!

Apr. 25 2015 02:54 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

Saw Cav as a play on Italian tv. Santuzza was very pregnant. That would explain why she was ostracized.
Baritone today is bellowing. Is there a shortage of baritones in the U.S.
Have been unable to forget his disgusting portrayal of Scarpia. He could have objected to this.

Apr. 25 2015 01:02 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

The fact that the realismo of CAV and PAG is so traditionally assumed to be truthful to the venues that any company can deliver good enough performances without stellar participants is why we get sp many not too beautiful, nor big voices and sloppy acting. Oh for the days of Caruso, Corelli and Del Monaco !!! Anything that promotes comprehension of and familiarity with the masterpieces of art , music, literature and architecture serves the better good for all.

Apr. 25 2015 09:04 AM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

CBC: Do not like what this production looks like. I hope the singers do it justice. Hope you and family are well. I am fine. You know, I am old,
Thank God for great music. Cavelleria and Aida were the first operas I learned to love. I was only 10 years old.
Tante belle cose.

Apr. 25 2015 07:07 AM

The photo looks like a clown version of Mr. Cellophane, from the Broadway musical "Chicago."


Apr. 24 2015 07:25 PM

CBC Molto bene. In this run the tenor sadly doesn't sing in Sicilian. But I have a Cav. with Mario who sings the Prologo-but not at the start of the opera!
I don't know who decided that this could be in the same village. I didn't know Calabria was part of Sicily. Tutte cose bene a mia beduzza since the next two weeks aren't for me. And shame on the Met for performing only one Wagner opera 4 times in Dec. and no mas. What a schande.
All good things for you & your family until we post again.

Apr. 24 2015 06:46 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

@LES: Babka Mascagni sounds delicious.
Some trivia: Early in his career, the Golden Swede Bjoerling had trouble with the Sicilian dialect for the off-stage aria. He would sing it in Italian. He did get the Sicilian right later on in his career.
Beduzza Cavanaugh: I have the 50th anniversary recording with Mascagni conducting and Gigli as Turiddu.

Apr. 24 2015 11:05 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

I already commented about the opening night performance at length in David Patrick Stearns review "The Met's New Cav/Pag" in "Operavore". I'd urge everyone to listen to the broadcast, form your own opinions, then read his review and everyone's comments after the review in here, too. In the old days at the Met, it was common for "I Pagliacci" to begin the double bill followed by "Cavalleria Rusticana". Sometimes Gluck's "Orfeo ed Eurydice" (of all things) preceded "Cavalleria Rusticana and "I Pagliacci" was omitted. Offering a bit of trivia, I wonder if Pietro Mascagni ever knew that in the Warsaw Opera building there was a cafe' called Semademi that featured a desert called "Babka Mascagni", consisting of a cake covered with ground chestnuts and whipped cream! I could glean no recipe information, worse luck.

Apr. 24 2015 08:37 AM
Sanford Rothenberg from Brooklyn

Opera's most famous double bill known as "Cav" and "Pag",and sometimes called "Ham and Eggs" owes its pairing to the publisher Sonzogno.Mascagni won a competition sponsored by Sonzogno ,and "Cavalleria" had a life of its own,including being performed at the MET before "Pagliacci" appeared.Sonzogno acquired the rights to "Pagliacci",and had the idea of combining the two into a double bill.The new MET production has received notice for,among other things,the questionable updating of "Pagliacci",the assumption of both tenor roles by Alvarez (previously done by Domingo during his tenor incarnation),and,as noted in reviews by Tommasini and Stearns,a decline in Racette,who turns 50 June 23.

Apr. 24 2015 01:56 AM

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