This season, be enthralled by Singapore Lyric Opera’s (SLO) double bill opera featuring Leoncavallo’s popular opera Pagliacci and Puccini’s only comedy Gianni Schicchi.
Led by the critically acclaimed director, Tom Hawkes and sung by an international cast, it will be staged at the Esplanade Theatre, from the 10th to 12th of September.
Having premiered in Milan in 1892, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci’s storyline revolves around anger, betrayal and jealousy that leads to the tragic double murder brought about by the ‘tears of a clown’. Leoncavallo utilizes the play-within-a-play device to further emote the melancholy of a man when he discovers that his wife is planning on leaving him for her lover.
The play mirrors real life events where things take a turn for the worst when he breaks out of character and is unable to distinguish real life from the play. This opera features South Korean tenor, Lee Jae Wok as the title character, Canio/Pagliacci and Japanese soprano, Sachiko Ito as his wife, Nedda, supported by Filipino tenor, Lemuel Dela Cruz and Singaporean baritone, Martin Ng.
The second opera sees Gianni Schicchi, one of Puccini’s Il Trittico; a collection of 3 oneact operas, brought to life on stage and is regarded as the most loved and frequently performed of the set after its theatrical debut in New York in 1918.
Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, the titular character Gianni Schicchi finds himself stuck with the greedy relatives of a dead rich man. He is tasked to find a way around the will and ensure that they receive a handsome inheritance. This comedy promises to enlighten the hearts of the audience while revealing the avarice of people in the presence of great wealth.
One of opera’s best-loved arias, ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’, will be performed by one of New Zealand’s finest sopranos, Marlena Devoe, who will also be making her debut with the SLO. English baritone, Adrian Clarke will play the titular character and is accompanied by tenor, Lee Jae Wok, who will play Rinuccio and soprano, Marlena Devoe as Lauretta. The rest of the cast includes tenor Lemuel dela Cruz, soprano, Sachiko Ito, English mezzo-soprano, Fiona Kimm and baritone, Martin Ng.
Tom Hawkes, who has directed both of these operas before, says that this is a very rewarding combination as both stem from the Italian Commedia del Arte tradition, the tragedy of Pagliacci is complimented by the comedy of Gianni Schicchi.
The two traditional characters of Columbina, Harlequin, Wiley Clown and Pagliaccio find their counterparts in the young lovers, elderly relatives and clever Schicchi. “I am confident that the audiences’ tears of sorrow will be turned into tears of laughter and the audience will leave the theatre, riding a roller coaster of emotions”. Both productions will be sung in Italian accompanied by English and Chinese surtitles. Led by Singaporean conductor, Joshua Kangming Tan, the evening will also feature Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra, Opera Chorus and SLO Children’s Choir.