Sunday, 1 October 2017

Repent, Harlequin

And so to the opera. I have been to see the traditional verismo pairing of Pagliacci and Cavallieri Rusticana; a double dose of beautifully sung adultery and murder. It is encouraging to know that should I ever meet a sticky end at the hands of an outraged husband that it will all be accompanied by some top tunes. Musically, Cav is surely the stronger, but for sheer non-stop in-your-face passion and drama I think one has to go with Pag. The Commedia dell'Arte of the original here became the rehearsal of an Opera North production, in a very meta self-referential interpretation that worked very well apart from not making any sense at all. Still, the audience were carried along by the central thrusts of the plot, and there was indeed much thrusting, not to mention writhing. The attractive and voluptuous faithless wife and her, it must be said, rather handsome and dashing lover, were perhaps not as discreet as they thought they were being, are dobbed in to the husband by a jealous male rival and pay the inevitable consequence. Cav on the other hand is completely different. Transposed from post Risorgimento Sicily to Communist Poland, the cheating wife and her lover aren't very discreet, are dobbed in to the husband by a jealous female rival and pay the consequence. Contrast and compare.

It's worth noting that the male rival, Tonio, is a nasty piece of work, whereas the female, Santuzza, is both wronged and, frankly, completely bonkers. I wouldn't like to get too close to either of them, nor indeed to either of the husbands. The lover's mother in Cav was basically Dot Cotton with a somewhat more melodious voice and the evening was a bit like a scrambled Christmas Day afternoon in front of the TV where the picture was back to back Eastenders specials and the soundtrack was the carol service from Kings College. Verismo indeed.

One last point. I am not sure - and can't be arsed to find out - if I have ever made clear this blog's position vis a vis clowns, but for the avoidance of doubt: they are not funny.


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