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Operas by Mascagni and Leoncavallo staged in double-bill performance

     The operas "Cavalleria Rusticana" by Pietro Mascagni and "I Pagliacci" by Ruggero Leoncavallo will be staged in a double-bill performance in January. As in its previous appearance in 1979, this twin production will be directed by Lo King-man and will feature a combination of outstanding international and local vocalists.

     "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "I Pagliacci" have experienced continual success since their premieres in the 19th century. These two sensational Italian operas are often performed as a double-bill because of their similarities, with both telling stories of jealousy, love affairs and murder. Another reason is the universal popularity of the two best-known pieces, Mascagni's "Intermezzo" and Leoncavallo's "Vesti la giubba".

     The single-act "Cavalleria Rusticana" is Mascagni's best-known opera and is brilliantly adapted from Givovanni Verga's short story. Concentrating on four main characters, the story tells of two staggered relationships. One Easter morning, the young villager Turiddu is heard singing about his beloved Lola, who is married to the wine-carter, Alfio. Turiddu's neglected sweetheart Santuzza tries to win Turiddu back, but Turiddu refuses and continues his love affair with Lola. Out of rage and jealousy, Santuzza takes revenge by revealing the affair to Alfio. In line with a long tradition of rustic chivalry, Turiddu and Alfio start a fight. Blood-curdling shouts are heard in the distance. A woman stumbles in crying, "Turiddu has been killed".

     "I Pagliacci" is an opera of two acts, with music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo. All the main protagonists are members of an itinerant touring troupe who act as clowns. The storyline is similar to "Cavalleria Rusticana", a tale of murder in which the actress Nedda is found to be cheating on her husband, Canio. As Nedda's lover, Silvio, escapes, Canio can only hope to catch him in the evening. As Canio dons his costume and makeup for the evening play, he expresses his bitterness for living the life of a clown. As night falls, Canio, in the featured comedy "Pagliaccio e Colombina", demands that Nedda reveal her lover's name on the stage. Despite Nedda's futile effort to continue playing her part, the infuriated Canio stabs her and then Silvio, who reveals himself from among the crowd. Both the "villagers" and audience are left dumbfounded.

     The production is directed by Lo King-man and conducted by Lio Kuok-man, with the participation of the Hong Kong Virtuosi and the Opera Society of Hong Kong. The major characters will be played by outstanding international and local vocalists: the mezzo-sopranos Janara Kellerman and Carol Lin; sopranos Louise Kwong, Kristin Sampson and Yuki Ip; tenors John Daniecki and Jeffrey Hartman; and baritones Grant Youngblood and Brian Montgomery.

     Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and produced by Musica Viva, "Mascagni's 'Cavalleria Rusticana' & Leoncavallo's 'I Pagliacci'" (performed in Italian with Chinese and English surtitles) will be staged at 7.45pm on January 4 and 5 (Friday and Saturday) and at 2.45pm on January 5 and 6 (Saturday and Sunday) at the Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall. Tickets priced at $630, $460, $300 and $150 (the lines of sight of some seats priced at $150 may be restricted) are now available at all URBTIX outlets, on the Internet and by telephone credit card booking. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and their minders, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (limited tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first-come, first-served basis). A group booking discount is available; please refer to the programme leaflet for details.

     For programme enquiries, please call 2268 7321 or visit For ticketing enquiries, please call 2734 9009. For credit card telephone bookings, please call 2111 5999. For Internet bookings, please visit

     Pre-performance and post-performance talks (conducted in English and Cantonese) will be held for this programme. Admission is free with limited seats available on a first-come, first-served basis. Details are as follows:

Pre-performance Talk
Topic: "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "I Pagliacci", the foundation of verismo in Italian Opera
Speakers: Lo King-man, Jennifer To
Date: January 5 (Saturday)
Time: 1.45pm
Venue: Recital Hall, 8/F High Block, Hong Kong City Hall

Post-performance Talk
Topic: "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "I Pagliacci" - their influence on the style of operatic singing
Speakers: Lo King-man, Jennifer To
Date: January 6 (Sunday)
Time: After the matinee performance
Venue: Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall

Ends/Friday, December 7, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:49



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