By Burton D. Fisher
An entire advisor to Leoncavallo's I PAGLIACCI consisting of the tale SYNOPSIS, critical CHARACTERS within the opera, tale NARRATIVE with ONE-BAR song spotlight EXAMPLES, and an ESSAY offering history in regards to the opera and its composer, research, and insightful observation.
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Extra resources for I Pagliacci (Opera Journeys Mini Guide Series)
I Pagliacci Page 30 ulterior motives: he wants to be alone to woo Canio’s wife, Nedda. ” Canio’s words are dramatically translated by the underlying music. Canio explains that the theater is illusion and make-believe, so when a clown-actor catches his wife in adultery, he thrashes her lover with comic adroitness: that part of Canio’s sermon is accompanied by light and humorous dance-type music; he speaks about a capricious world of unreality and illusion. Then Canio speaks about infidelity in real life: it is a grave transgression, and underscoring his weighty words, the music turns profound and solemn.
In the Act II commedia dell’arte playwithin-a-play, the background music provides a magnificent contrast: its light minuet and charming gavotte quite naturally suggests a harmless comedy. But Canio bursts in, his voice trembling and explosive, and adds a profound contrast and tension to the quaint elegance of the gavotte: No! , “No I am no longer a clown,” an outburst of anguish and terror from a man driven to insanity by jealousy I Pagliacci Page 31 and dishonor and craving revenge. Nedda tries to calm Canio, her accompanying dance-tune music an attempt to return to the commedia dell’arte scenario, a return to the world of make-believe and illusion.
I Pagliacci is a sublime prototype of the verismo genre in which a horrible “truth” in man’s soul is exposed: man’s capacity for evil and brutality. In verismo, man is irrational, a creature of instinct: death becomes the consummation of his desires. Leoncavallo never succeeded in duplicating the success of this singular masterpiece, I Pagliacci: the irony for the composer, that his infamous words at the conclusion of this music drama, la comedia è finita, “the play is over,” became an ominous forecast for the composer’s career; I Pagliacci became Leoncavallo’s sole claim to operatic immortality.
I Pagliacci (Opera Journeys Mini Guide Series) by Burton D. Fisher