Opera’s most popular double bill, Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, starring Marcelo Álvarez, Eva-Maria Westbroek, and Patricia Racette, comes to Great Performances at the Met Sunday, September 6 at 12 pm on PBS. (Check local listings; in New York, THIRTEEN will air the operas at 12:30 pm.)
Sir David McVicar directs the first new Met production of the popular verismo double bill in 45 years, with Argentinean tenor Marcelo Álvarez making his company role debut in both leading tenor parts: the unrepentant seducer Turiddu and the clown Canio. Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek sings the role of Santuzza, the abandoned woman at the heart of Cavalleria Rusticana, and American soprano Patricia Racette stars as Canio’s ill-fated wife Nedda in Pagliacci. George Gagnidze also stars in both operas, singing the principal baritone roles of Alfio in Cavalleria and Tonio in Pagliacci. Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leads both operas.
Pietro Mascagni composed Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo composed Pagliacci. Both operas are set in Sicily, but in different time periods. Rae Smith (War Horse) designed the moodily atmospheric 1900 village square setting of Cavalleria Rusticana, which transforms to a 1948 truck stop for the doomed vaudeville troupe of Pagliacci. Read more in the synopses of the operas.
When the production debuted this past season, The New York Times observed, “This double assignment is a formidable challenge, and Mr. Álvarez delivers the most impassioned and commanding singing I have heard from him at the Met. The soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek brings vocal charisma and wrenching vulnerability to Santuzza.”
And The Wall Street Journal declared “David McVicar’s new Met production provides a splendid, subtly contemporary view of the two verismo chestnuts, demonstrating that these fast-paced tales of jealousy and murder, with their explicit, hair-trigger emotionalism, still have the power to shock.” Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham hosts the broadcast.
Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci was originally seen live in movie theaters on April 25, 2015 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 2,000 movie theaters and performing arts centers in over 70 countries around the world. The Live in HD series has reached a record-breaking 18 million viewers since its inception in 2006.
Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.
Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Major funding for the Met Opera presentation is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. This Great Performances presentation is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, and public television viewers.
For the Met, Gary Halvorson directs the telecast. Jay David Saks is Music Producer. Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.
About WNET and the Met Print
As New York’s flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore App where users can stream PBS content for free.
About the Met
Under the leadership of General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine, the Met has a series of bold initiatives underway that are designed to broaden its audience and revitalize the company’s repertory. The Met’s 2014-15 season features five new productions shown Live in HD, including Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, conducted by James Levine and directed by Richard Eyre; Lehár’s The Merry Widow, conducted by Andrew Davis and directed by Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman; Rossini’s La Donna del Lago, conducted by Michele Mariotti and directed by Paul Curran; Tchaikovsky’s one-act opera Iolanta presented in a double bill with a new staging of Bartók’s one-act Bluebeard’s Castle, conducted by Valery Gergiev and directed by Mariusz Treliński; and Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, led by Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi and directed by David McVicar.
Building on its 84-year-old radio broadcast history—heard over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network—the Met uses advanced media distribution platforms and state-of-the-art technology to reach audiences around the world. The Met: Live in HD, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series of live performance transmissions to movie theaters around the world, returns for its ninth season in 2014-15 with ten live transmissions. Met Opera on Demand, a subscription service, makes selections from the company’s extensive video and audio catalog of full-length performances available to the public online in exceptional, state-of-the-art quality. Metropolitan Opera Radio on Sirius XM broadcasts live performances from the Met stage three times a week during the opera season and the Met offers free live audio streaming of performances on its website once a week during the opera season.