Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci | Lyric Opera House | Classical | Chicago Reader

Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci Recommended Member Picks Soundboard

When: Sat., Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m., Wed., Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m., Sun., Feb. 22, 2 p.m., Wed., Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m., Wed., March 4, 2 p.m., Mon., March 9, 7:30 p.m., Sat., March 14, 7:30 p.m., Tue., March 17, 7:30 p.m., Fri., March 20, 7:30 p.m., Mon., March 23, 7:30 p.m. and Fri., March 27, 7:30 p.m. 2009

Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana (1890) and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (1892), both early exemplars of the naturalistic “verismo” style, are so reliably performed as a double bill that opera buffs refer to them as “Cav and Pag.” The action in each is confined to one day, driven by love triangles that end abruptly and violently. Cavalleria concerns the caddish Turiddu (tenor Carlo Ventre till March 9, then Vincenzo La Scola), who’s having an affair with his former fiancee, Lola, now wife to the wealthy Alfio (baritone Mark Delavan), much to the dismay of the pregnant Santuzza (mezzo Guang Yang till March 14, then Dolora Zajick), the woman Turiddu took up with to spite Lola for her opportunistic marriage. Unfortunately the production sometimes drags, and there’s some rather stilted acting, notably from Ventre and Yang—though it should be said that Yang’s voice is lusciously rich and piercingly passionate. Delavan too is excellent as Alfio—and even better in Pagliacci, where he plays Tonio, a clown in a traveling theater troupe. Darker and faster paced, Pagliacci is by far the more gripping of the two productions. Here the tragic love triangle mirrors the story the troupe tells in its comic performance. Formidable tenor Vladimir Galouzine is mesmerizing as Canio, who plays the part of jealous husband Pagliaccio but discovers he’s really being cuckolded—his wife, Nedda (soprano Ana Maria Martinez), who plays the unfaithful Colombina, is actually cheating on him. Galouzine’s intense performance—more furious than sad—is well matched by Martinez’s soaring, poignant voice, which carries both her resignation and her longing to be free. Renato Palumbo conducts; members of the Chicago Children’s Choir augment the Lyric’s chorus in both productions. The run ends March 27. UPDATE: La Scola has withdrawn from the production due to recurrent asthma; Ventre will play Turiddu for the entire run. —Barbara Yaross

Price: $79-$185

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