Johannesburg based opera lovers have been visiting Cinema Nouveau in their droves for The Met: Live in HD screened operas. Ending the 2014/2015 season is the popular verismo double bill, Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.
I am particularly fond of these two one act operas, both of which deal with the consequences of adultery, with operatic deaths at the end. Sadly the killing of women by their live in partners is not confined to opera or to stories of the past. Verismo means “realism”.
Argentinean tenor Marcelo Alvarez sings both leading tenor parts, Tiriddu in Cav and Canio in Pag, and George Gagnidze sings both baritone roles, Alfio in Cav and Tonio in Pag. Santuzza, the abandoned woman in Cav, is sung by Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek while the ill fated Nedda in Pagliacci is the American soprano Patricia Racette. Conducted by Fabio Luisi.
Directed by Sir David McVicar, the two operas are set in the same town, but fifty years apart, 1900 for Cav and 1950 for Pag. The traditional pairing of Cav and Pag began at the Met in 1893, so bear that in mind when viewing the three and a half hour double bill (and note that parking jumps from R8 to R50 after four hours, but if you present your ticket to the management office they will authorise it at the R8 even if you are a bit over.
I was entranced by both operas, staged very differently and both very emotionally draining for the audiences (what it must be like performing them is difficult to imagine). I continue to find the interviews as the singers leave the stage highly irritating and was particularly distressed with this one where Alvarez expressed his discomfort with this invasion of his space so clearly. For what it is worth I really would rather see the opera and nothing but the opera. It would render the experience more time friendly as well. Otherwise I love these movies and recommend them highly.
This charming double bill can be seen from Saturday 23 May 2015 at Cinema Nouveau and select Ster Kinekor cinemas throughout the country. http://www.cinemanouveau.co.za or sterkinekor.mobi has all the information you need, or call Ticketline on 0861 Movies (668 437).