On Friday evening at the first performance we got all of this, and more. Both these operas have many scenes in which the chorus predominates and the Teatre Principal's chorus of 70 or more voices took every opportunity to remind us that this must be one of the finest theatrical choruses in Spain and possibly in Europe. Its voices blend perfectly, its attack is precise and in addition its members add an acting dimension that was particularly effective in the final stages of Pagliacci. The Balearic Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Micheli relished its opportunities to shine in the exquisite orchestral introductions and interludes which both composers provide; as always with this orchestra, the solo instrumental work was impeccable.
Both operas were strongly cast. The baritone Giancarlo Pasquetto appeared in each, playing a rather laidback Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana and Tonio in Pagliacci; in the latter role he delivered the famous Prologue in front of the stage curtain with great poignancy before commanding, Ring up the curtain. Each opera revolves round the character of a woman tormented by love. In Cavalleria Rusticana Alessandra Rezza gave a compelling account of Santuzza, a women so consumed with jealousy that she is driven to a lie that leads to the death of the man she loves. In Pagliacci Eteri Lamoris gave a delightful and impressive account of Nedda, the star of the travelling theatre which performs a Columbine and Harlequin play that mirrors her own torment, torn between her husband, Canio and her lover Silvio. It is, of course, his anguish at this situation that drives Canio to the most famous number in these two operas, Vesti la giubba (On with the motley, and the paint and the powder) as he faces the need to continue to act though his heart is breaking. Nicola Martinucci sang this great tenor aria with contrasting force and pathos to great effect.
In the Auditorium production the director Ludek Golat has set both operas in the same village in what look like mid20th century clothes, a perfectly acceptable decision.
The lovers in Cavalleria Rusticana are nearer middleage than Mascagni's instruction that they should be young; again, I thought this worked very well and was typical of the sensible nature of both these productions, in which the glorious music is rightly given priority.
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