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Opera Abbreviated Podcast: Opera Project Columbus' Pagliacci

OPERA PROJECT COLUMBUS presents Leoncavallo's Pagliacci (Clowns) at the Jewish Center of Columbus on Saturday June 14 and Sunday the 15. Alessandro Siciliani conducts. Your obedient servant, the chubby, elderly broadcaster Christopher Purdy, directs the opera.

Listen to the Opera Abbreviated new Pagliacci edition! Get more information at Opera Project Columbus' website. Shameless plug then, okay?

Pagliacci was first performed in 1893. It was Leoncavallo's first opera and his only enduring success. That's a shame, since two of his other operas at least, Zaza and La boheme are worthy of revival. 

Zaza the story of a racy French music hall heroine, served as a vehicle for the glamorous soprano Geraldine Farrar in the 1920s and has faded away since. Leoncavallo's La boheme was obliterated by Puccini's blockbuster, composed at the same time!

Most of us are aware of the sad clown. Comedy by day, tragedy by night.

Ruggero Leoncavallo (1857-1919) was the son of a magistrate who heard a murder case concerning an actor who had murdered his wife and her lover.

Who could resist adding a little stage makeup up and transforming this sordid tale into an opera. Especially since the late 19th saw the verismo movement of opera and theater. The stage was now meant to represent day to day life, with a very direct text and dramatic music.

Pagliacci, both the story and the score, has been parodied for 100 years. But this condensed, violent opera has never lost its dramatic punch.

Most traveling players lived a sordid, miserable life a century ago. The young wife Ndeda only wants freedom. Canio, the leader of the troupe, lives a very controlled life in fear of losing his young wife. He does-taking her life and truly, his own.

Opera Project Columbus has a fine orchestra and chorus and wonderful soloists. Our tenor will blow you away. Alessandro Siciliani is a world-class conductor who has led this opera at the Met. The stage director, well, he's a lovable thug who hopes you will come to the opera and see/hear for yourselves!

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.