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.