Cav & Pag - a journey into Verismo
Pagliacci is an Italian opera with music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo. Together with Cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni, it creates an inseparable duo affectionately known as Cav & Pag. Cavalleria rusticana, premiered in 1890, is the older of the two operas, predating Pagliacci by about two years. Even though these two operas weren’t originally intended to be performed together, it wasn’t long after they began to appear side-by-side. There are two reasons for this combination.
The first is certainly of a practical nature: each opera only lasts about 75 minutes, so staging them together for an entire night at the opera makes perfect sense. The two operas, due to their short duration, have in fact also been paired with other operas such as The Barber of Seville, Don Pasquale and La Bohème, just to name a few. The deepest reason for the union between Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci undoubtedly lies in their common theme. Cav & Pag offer a real immersive journey into Verismo. Verismo works focus on emotionally intense and violent stories, often emphasizing the lives of common people, in order to be more realistic.
Cavalleria rusticana tells the story of the soldier Turridu, who, after learning his love Lola has married another man while he was away, seduces Santuzza to spite his ex-girlfriend. Lola and Turridu eventually begin their adulterous relationship, pushing Lola's husband, Alfio, to take violent punishment. Pagliacci, on the other hand, is a play within a play par excellence: a traveling theater company that includes the clown Canio, his wife Nedda and his lover Silvio. Canio suspects Nedda is having an affair, and those suspicions lead him to explode into violence during the troupe's performance of a comedy, which just happens to be so much like the intertwining of the lives of the cast members.