Passion and jealousy.
The original operatic double-feature.

Set in rural Italy, these two classic one-act works tell stories of the most operatic of emotions. In Cavalleria Rusticana (“Rustic Chivalry”), a woman abandoned by her lover seeks revenge – and gets it. In Pagliacci (“The Clowns”), a traveling theatre troupe is torn apart by infidelity, jealousy, and ultimately murder.

Last seen in Madison over 30 years ago, this double-bill features everything you want in an opera, with passionate music, intense emotions, and powerful drama.

Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci
Friday, November 2 at 8pm
Sunday, November 4 at 2:30pm
Overture Hall
Sung in Italian with projected English translations

Run time: 2 hours 45 minutes, including one intermission

Cavalleria Rusticana

Music by Pietro Mascagni
Libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci
Premiered: 17 May 1890, Teatro Costanzi, Rome
Previously at MO: 1986, 1973

A village in Sicily. 

At dawn on Easter Sunday, Turiddu sings in the distance of his love for Lola, wife of the carter Alfio. She and Turiddu had been a couple before he joined the army. When he returned and found her married to Alfio, he seduced Santuzza.  He has now abandoned Santuzza and rekindled his relationship with Lola.

Later in the morning, a distraught Santuzza approaches the tavern of Mamma Lucia, Turiddu’s mother, who tells her that her son is away buying wine. But Santuzza knows that Turiddu has been seen during the night in the village. Alfio arrives with a group of men, boasting of his horses—and of Lola. He asks Lucia if she has any more of her good wine. When she says that Turiddu has gone to get more, Alfio replies that he saw him near his house that same morning. Lucia is surprised, but Santuzza tells her to keep quiet.

As the villagers follow the procession to church, Santuzza stays behind and pours out her grief about Turiddu to Mamma Lucia. The old woman expresses her pity, then leaves for Mass. Turiddu arrives in the piazza. When Santuzza confronts him about his affair with Lola, he denies her accusations. Just then Lola passes by on her way to church. She mocks Santuzza, and Turiddu turns to follow her. Santuzza begs him to stay and implores him not to abandon her. Refusing to listen, Turiddu leaves, and Santuzza curses him. Alfio appears, late for Mass. Santuzza tells him that Lola went to church with Turiddu and reveals that she has been cheating on him. In a rage, Alfio swears to get even and rushes off, leaving behind a conscience-stricken Santuzza.

The villagers return from church and gather at Mamma Lucia’s tavern. Turiddu leads them in a drinking song, but the atmosphere becomes tense when Alfio appears. He refuses Turiddu’s offer of wine and instead challenges him to a knife fight. Turiddu admits his guilt but is determined to go through with the fight, for Santuzza’s sake as well as for his honor. The two men agree to meet outside the village. Alone with his mother, Turiddu begs her to take care of Santuzza if he doesn’t come back, then runs off to the fight. As Lucia waits anxiously, shouts are heard in the distance. A woman runs in screaming that Turiddu has been killed.

-Synopsis courtesy of Metropolitan Opera


Music by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Libretto by the composer
Premiered 21 May 1892, Teatro dal Verme, Milan
Previously at MO: 1986

Before the opera begins, Tonio steps in front of the curtain to announce that what the audience is about to see is a true story, as actors have the same joys and sorrows as other people.

A small theatrical company arrives in a Sicilian village and Canio, the head of the troupe, advertises the night’s performance to the gathered crowd. One of the villagers suggests that Tonio is secretly courting Canio’s young wife, Nedda. Canio warns them all that he will not tolerate any flirting offstage—life and theater are not the same.

As the crowd disperses, Nedda is left alone, disturbed by her husband’s jealousy. She looks up to the sky, envying the birds their freedom. Tonio appears and tries to force himself on Nedda, but she beats him back, and he retreats, swearing revenge. In fact, Nedda does have a lover—Silvio, who suddenly appears. The two reaffirm their love, and Silvio persuades Nedda to run away with him that night. Tonio, who has overheard the end of their conversation, alerts Canio, but Silvio manages to slip away unrecognized. Canio violently threatens Nedda, but she refuses to reveal her lover’s name. Beppe, another member of the troupe, restrains Canio, and Tonio advises him to wait until the evening’s performance to catch the culprit. Alone, Canio gives in to his despair—he must play the clown even though his heart is breaking.

That evening, the villagers assemble to watch the performance, Silvio among them. Beppe plays Harlequin, who serenades Columbina, played by Nedda. He dismisses her buffoonish servant Taddeo, played by Tonio, and over dinner the two sweethearts plot to poison Columbina’s husband Pagliaccio, played by Canio. When Pagliaccio unexpectedly appears, Harlequin slips away. Taddeo maliciously assures Pagliaccio of his wife’s innocence, which ignites Canio’s jealousy. Forgetting his role and the play, he demands that Nedda tell him the name of her lover. She tries to continue with the performance, the audience enthralled by its realism, until Canio snaps. In a fit of rage he stabs Nedda and then Silvio, who rushes to her aid. Turning to the horrified crowd, Canio announces that the comedy is over.

-Synopsis courtesy of Metropolitan Opera

The Kids of Cav/Pag

Sneek Peak of Cav/Pag

Conductor and Director of Cav/Pag

The Story of Cavalleria Rusticana

The Story of Pagliacci

Meet the Artists of Cav/Pag

Prepping the Rehearsal Hall

Cav/Pag Community Preview

Meet the artists


Michelle Johnson

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Aida, Aida (Knoxville Opera, Sarasota Opera); Madame Lidoine, Dialogues of the Carmelites; Elisabeth de Valois, Don Carlos (Sarasota Opera); Leonora, Il Trovatore (Hawaii Opera Theatre); Minnie, La Fanciulla del West (Kentucky Opera)
Upcoming: Aida, Aida (Opera Idaho)

Talise Trevigne

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Mrs. Johannes Zegner, Proving Up (Opera Omaha); Micaëla, Carmen (Hawaii Opera Theatre); Bess, Porgy and Bess (Glimmerglass Festival); Leïla, The Pearl Fishers (North Carolina Opera); Clara, It’s a Wonderful Life (Houston Grand Opera)
Upcoming: Cio-Cio San, Madama Butterfly (Theater Basel); Bess, Porgy and Bess (Cincinnati Opera)

Scott Piper
Turridu / Canio

Madison Opera Debut: Alfredo, La Traviata (1999)
Recently with MO: Cavaradossi, Tosca (2013); Opera in the Park 2004; Pinkerton, Madama Butterfly (2001); Rodolfo, La Bohéme (1999)
Recently: Canio, Pagliacci (Utah Opera); Otello, Otello; Luigi, Il Tabarro (Dayton Opera, Heissisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Oper Köln)

Michael Mayes
Alfio / Tonio

Madison Opera Debut: Duke of Verona, Romeo and Juliet (2004)
Recently with MO: Joseph De Rocher, Dead Man Walking
Recently: Count di Luna, Il Trovatore (Central City Opera); Sweeney Todd, Sweeney Todd (Atlanta Opera); Starbuck, Moby-Dick (Pittsburgh Opera); Joseph DeRocher, Dead Man Walking (Teatro Real de Madrid, Washington National Opera); Beck Weathers, Everest (Lyric Opera of Kansas City)
Upcoming: Older Thompson, Glory Denied; Wozzeck, Wozzeck (Des Moines Metro Opera); Count di Luna, Il Trovatore (Seattle Opera); Joseph DeRocher, Dead Man Walking (Atlanta Opera); Richard Nixon, Nixon in China (Oper Stuttgart)

Benjamin Taylor

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Yamadori, Madama Butterfly; Sciarrone, Tosca; Brian, The Long Walk; Captain Gardiner, Moby-Dick (Pittsburgh Opera); Fiorello, The Barber of Seville; Cowardly Giant, Shalimar the Clown; Yamadori, Madame Butterfly (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis); Marcello, La Bohème (Crested Butte Festival)
Upcoming:  Schaunard, La Bohème; Older Thompson, Glory Denied (Pittsburgh Opera)

Robert A. Goderich

Madison Opera Debut: Amelia’s Servant, A Masked Ball (2012)
Recently with MO: 1st Priest / Armored Man, The Magic Flute (2017); Spalanzani, The Tales of Hoffmann; Pirelli, Sweeney Todd; Peasant, The Daughter of the Regiment
Recently: Beadle Bamford, Sweeney Todd (Middleton Players theatre); Pirelli, Sweeney Todd (Skylight Music Theater); Albin, La Cage Aux Folles (Music Theatre of Madison); Pirelli cvr., Sweeney Todd, (San Francisco Opera)

Danielle Wright
Mamma Lucia

Madison Opera Debut
Recently: Hannah, Between Constellations (Grimeborn Festival); Adelaide, Arabella (Pittsburgh Festival Opera); Paula Deen, Krispy Kremes and Butter Queens (Detroit Institute of Arts, Opera MODO); Madeline, Three Decembers; Mrs. Todd, The Old Maid and the Theif; Madame Flora, The Medium; Juno, Semele (Opera MODO)
Upcoming: Madeline, Three Decembers (Chamber Music Society of Detroit)

Kirsten Larson

Madison Opera Studio Artist
Madison Opera Debut
Johanna, Sweeney Todd (Middleton Players Theatre); Prince Orlofsky, Die Fledermaus (Madison Savoyards); Fox, The Cunning Little Vixen; Meg Page, Falstaff; Baba the Turk, The Rake’s Progress; Cherubino, The Marriage of Figaro (Louisiana State University)

Upcoming:   Mrs. Segstrom, A Little Night Music; Water Sprite, Rusalka (Madison Opera)

Joseph Mechavich

Madison Opera Debut: Don Giovanni (2013)
Recently with MO: Opera in the Park 2017
Recently: The Magic Flute, Dead Man Walking, Ariadne auf Naxos (Kentucky Opera); Out of Darkness (Atlanta Opera); Florencia en el Amazonas (San Diego Opera, Arizona Opera); Moby-Dick (Utah Opera); Turandot (Calgary Opera); Riders of the Purple Sage (Arizona Opera)
Upcoming: Dead Man Walking (Atlanta Opera); Silent Night (Austin Opera); Werther (Florida Grand Opera); Die Fledermau(Opera Tampa)

Kristine McIntyre
Stage Director

Madison Opera Debut: Così fan tutte (2009)
Recently with MO: Florencia en el Amazonas, The Tales of Hoffmann, Dead Man Walking, A Masked Ball
Recently: Flight (Des Moines Metro Opera); La Rondine (Arezzo Opera Festival); The Place Where You Started (Art Share L.A.); Moby-Dick (Pittsburgh Opera, Utah Opera); Dead Man Walking (Lyric Opera of Kansas City); Billy Budd, As One (Des Moines Metro Opera); Don Giovanni (Utah Opera); The Tender Land (Michigan Opera Theater)
Upcoming: Glory Denied, Wozzeck (Des Moines Metro Opera); Moby-Dick (Chicago Opera Theater, Opera San Jose, Gran Teatre del Liceu); Don Giovanni (Palm Beach Opera)

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