The last few decades of the 19th century in Italy must the time and the place for the fans of opera. Verdi was the national hero and his opera greater than life were making an international career after having brought up the spirits of the nation during the revolutionary years. Opera houses were built in all the important cities of Italy, and small companies were traveling to the most remote places making out of the genre a popular entertainment. In this atmosphere of effervescence a popular contest was hold in 1883, and then repeated a few years later for a one act popular opera inspired from the contemporary reality and easier to stage and perform for the wider audiences. The winner out of the 73 entries was ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ by Pietro Mascagni – a story of passion and revenge located in Sicily at Easter time.   I do not know if the composers and critics of the time were already using the term of verismo but the piece of the young composer was to become a representative creation of the genre, and one of the most popular pieces in the repertory of world opera.

 

source http://www.israel-opera.co.il/Eng/?CategoryID=423&ArticleID=1298

 

Cavalleria Rusticana and its companion one act opera Pagliacci are the safe opening bet of the New Israeli Opera season. The production belongs to the Teatro Real (Royal Theater) in Madrid and directed by Giancarlo del Monaco. The musical direction in the Tel Aviv production belongs to the artistic director of the ensemble David Stern (the son of the famous violinist Isaac Stern) and I am sorry to say but the lack of discipline of the opera orchestra could be felt in the performance last night. Hopefully they will improve in coordination and accuracy, this was only the second or third performance.

 

(video source anisimovatatiana)

 

The star of the first part was without any doubt the Ukrainian soprano Tatiana Anisimova with a sensual and vibrant voice and dramatic presence on stage. You can see her above in a fragment of the Spanish version of the staging of the opera.

 

(video source Gabba02)

 

Here is another scene (the famous Easter procession) from a different performance of the opera, with Fiorenza Cossotto singing the role of Santuzza.

 

source http://www.israel-opera.co.il/Eng/?CategoryID=423&ArticleID=1298

 

Since 1893 Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci is paired with Cavalleria. The same themes of love, jealousy, treason, revenge are combined in a more sophisticated mix that adds the theme of the tragic dimension of the art of clowns – dear to Italian opera composers and later to film directors. While the musical quality of the performance in Tel Aviv was good, it was the staging of this second part that drew the attention. The theater in theater intrigue in the second act is well staged and acted, in a clear and eloquent manner, and the neo-realistic post WWII sets and costumes fit well the veristic idea. Israeli soprano Ira Bertman faces well the three Italian partners in the only feminine role of the opera. I can only wonder why the younger generation of Israeli singers includes so many young gifted female performers with no men showing up to match the feminine presence.

 

(video source tomfroekjaer)

 

(video source cronhole)

 

(video source Gabba02)

 

Vesti la giubba is the most famous area in Pagliacci, and one of the most popular pieces in the world opera repertory. I found on youTube a few wonderful interpretations, starting with Enrico Caruso’s three different recordings made more than one century ago until the ones from Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.