Magazine article Musical Opinion

Pag De-Bagged! at the Coliseum

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Pag De-Bagged! at the Coliseum

Article excerpt

Which opera tugs most persistently at your heart strings? I think it must be Cavalleria Rusticana (Usually Rustic Chivalry) but at the Coliseum they call it Sicilian Revenge. Mascagni hits your emotions for six roughly every four bars (compare Carmen every eight bars, Puccini every twelve, Mozart every sixteen, Verdi likewise, Richard Strauss every sixteen, Wagner once a day, this could be the makings of a new parlour game) . Mascagni's misfortune was that he peaked with Cav at the age of twenty-six, never hitting the jackpot again. One later opera of his, Le Maschere, had seven simultaneous premieres in seven Italian cities and notched up seven flops poor chap, cocky little strutter that he was.

English National on 20 September let loose new productions by Richard Jones of that remarkable double bill Cav and Pagliacci. Strange to say Leoncavallo also peaked with Pag and never again. He also composed an opera La Boheme but Puccini's setting proved a hardier work. Richard Jones is a hot number among producers and these two productions again showed his great talent for moving choruses about. But he also likes to shock even if his shocks are more to do with Richard Jones than the composer or librettist of the opera he is directing (it was Jones who had Brünnhilde come on with a paper-bag over her head.) .

The production of Cav was not outré at all; he bundled us indoors in a sort of shopping mall instead of a space with a nearby church and a road but it was all quite mild; why, even the first snog of the evening took place quietly behind a row of chairs. No church - and think when we speak of Alfio's horses - there ain't none, and Turiddu the no-good boyo is killed on stage. Maybe, we thought, Jones is biding his time, leading us up the garden path to mayhem in Pag (too right, he was). True, Turiddu pours a glass of wine into the coat pocket of Alfio before biting a lump out of his ear, standard practice in Sicily to provoke a duel. …

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