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Libretto: Ruggero Leoncavallo
Stage Director: Liliana Cavani
Associate SD: Marina Bianchi
Set Designer: Dante Ferretti
Assistant: Leila Fteita
Costume Designer: Gabriella Pescucci
Assistant: Massimo Cantini Panini
Lighting Designer: Gianni Mantovanini
Choreographer: Micha van Hoecke
Premiere of the production: November 27, 2008
Pagliacci is staged by the renowned stage director Liliana Cavani, who has already staged Cavalleria rusticana at the Mikhailovsky Theatre. She cooperated with the brilliant team of Dante Ferretti and Gabriella Pescucci. The secret of the world success of Pagliacci is a combination of simplicity of the plot and great music. The movable feast of the itinerant artists ends in a sad way: husband kills his wife and her lover. And the audience is not quite sure till the very end if the tragedy is only theatrical or not.
Clown Tonio addresses the audience from behind the curtain: he reminds the pubic that the piece which is going to be presented depicts the real life and sincere feelings of the characters. The point of his speech is the fact that actors are people, who love and suffer like everybody else.
The square is crowded with people. They welcome the commedia troupe entering the village. Everybody’s waiting for a funny performance, full of jokes and tricks. Canio, head of the troupe, promises not to disappoint the public and show them a play about the troubles of Pagliaccio. The villagers suggest drinking at the tavern before the performance. Canio and Beppo accept. Tonio stays with Nedda, Canio’s wife, hoping to confess his love. But she rejects the hapless admirer, striking him with a whip. Tonio is enraged, he seeks revenge. Soon he has a chance: he sees Silvio, who enjoys the mutual love of Nedda, coming to her. Nedda assents to Silvio’s solicitations and promises to leave her husband and flee with him. Tonio eavesdrops on their conversation. He can get revenge! Tonio immediately brings Canio to the place. Silvio manages to escape. Canio demands that Nedda tell him the name of her lover, but she refuses. He threatens her with a knife, but Beppo disarms him. Beppo insists that they prepare for the performance.
The crowd in the square has gathered for the performance. The play begins. Colombina has prepared dinner and awaits her lover Arlecchino, who soon serenades her from beneath her window. Colombina’s servant Taddeo returns from the market and confesses his love, but Colombina mocks him and lets in Arlecchino through the window. He boxes Taddeo’s ears and kicks him out of the room, and the audience laughs. The sweet date is interrupted by Colombina’s husband. Canio, playing the role of Pagliaccio, suffers from jealousy again. Unable to cope with the situation, he stabs Colombina-Nedda. Silvio rushes to help her but is also stabbed by Canio. ‘The comedy is over’, announces Tonio.