Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Cavalleria rusticana / Pagliacci. It was last on stage 3 December 2015—1 January 2016 as part of the Autumn 2015/16 season.
Two complementary works tell dark tales of passionate love that sours to violent jealousy.
Pietro Mascagni adapted Giovanni Verga’s play Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) for a competition held by the music publisher Edoardo Sonzogno. His opera, a verismo masterpiece, won the competition and became a tremendous success on its premiere in May 1890. Cavalleria rusticana was an undoubted influence on Ruggero Leoncavallo when he too wrote a short opera for Sonzogno, this time based on a true story. His Pagliacci, first performed in May 1892, was another huge success. The two works, sharing dramatic concision, melodic richness and an obsession with violent jealousy, were soon paired and have since become almost inseparable.
Both Mascagni and Leoncavallo were members of the giovane scuola (young school). They, like many of their contemporaries, were interested in the verismo movement that was in vogue in Italian theatre, which sought to reproduce on stage the realities of rustic Italian life. Both Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci are prime examples of verismo opera, each containing music that gives a strong sense of their setting in a southern-Italian poverty-stricken village and the characters within it. Both are rich with melodies that have been championed by the greatest singers of the 20th century: Turiddu’s brindisi ‘Viva il vino spumeggiante’ and Santuzza’s melancholic ‘Voi lo sapete, o mama’ from Cavalleria rusticana; Tonio’s ‘Un nido di memorie’ and Canio’s ‘Vesti la giubba’ from Pagliacci. Italian director Damiano Michieletto’s Olivier Award-winning production for The Royal Opera updates the works to southern Italy in the late 20th century, to a village in the grip of poverty and hypocrisy, where strong passions lurk in the dark.
News and features
4 April 2016
Damiano Michieletto’s production of Cavalleria rusticana / Pagliacci and Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works won in opera and dance award categories.
29 February 2016
Nominees include Antonio Pappano, Alessandra Ferri and Wayne McGregor's Woolf Works.
Cast change: Yonghoon Lee and Kristian Benedikt to sing in Cavalleria rusticana / Pagliacci on 29 December 2015 and 1 January 201629 December 2015
Tenors replacing Aleksandrs Antonenko in Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci, respectively.
11 December 2015
What did you think of Damiano Michieletto's new production of Mascagni and Leoncavallo’s greatest operas?
10 December 2015
Backstage films from the live relay of Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci, including rehearsal footage and exclusive interviews.
7 December 2015
Damiano Michieletto's new Royal Opera production of Mascagni and Leoncavallo's verismo operas will be live on screens around the world.