01 Feb 2018

Operas you didn’t know you loved: “Pagliacci” and “Gianni Schicchi”

by Kathleen Sykes

Learning to love opera can be a little like learning a new language… well… for one of many reasons, because it’s in another language. But our upcoming production, a double bill of Pagliacci and Gianni Schicchi, will be easy to love!

And while you may not recognize the names of these operas, you’ve probably heard some of the music! Pagliacci, for example, has an aria that you hear frequently on TV. From sitcoms like Seinfeld and The Simpsons to kids shows like Hey Arnold!, you hear this tune everywhere!

Despite the goofy references in pop-culture, Pagliacci is probably one of the most tragic operas in existence. A troupe of performers enters a village to put on a play. The rough and threatening Canio suspects his wife Nedda of being involved with another man (who turns out to be his friend, Silvio). At the end of act I, he prepares for their performance and practices his act as a clown in spite of the fact that he feels miserable. This is what he sings:

The first half of the night might leave you in tears, but the second act will be sure to have you laughing. While this opera filled with dark humor and clever jokes, its most famous aria might have you reaching for a box of tissues.

In Gianni Schicchi, a family is at their wit’s end when a wealthy family member dies, leaving his large fortune to a local monastery. This leaves Rinuccio crest-fallen because it means his family will not let him marry his sweetheart, Lauretta.

He knows, however, that Gianni Schicchi is clever and knows his way around the law, and begs him to help them change the will. Initially, he refuses, but his daughter Lauretta begs him to change his mind in this tender aria.

This double bill is sure to put you on a roller coaster of emotions! And with music like this, it must be worth it. Get your tickets to Pagliacci / Gianni Schicchi here.