April 13 7:30pm & 14 at 3pm
by Ruggero Leoncavallo, takes place on the Feast of the Assumption. Prolog: Before the opera begins, Tonio steps out and asks the audience to consider that actors are real people and tells them that the story the author wrote is based on real life.
Eager townspeople gather in the center of the town to greet a troupe of travelling thespians who are returning to perform a show. Canio , head of the troupe, invites the townspeople to come to the show. One of the townspeople jokingly suggests that the hunchback Tonio is charmed by his young wife Nedda and Canio warns that he will not tolerate that nonsense and warns that if Nedda were unfaithful the ending would not be pleasant. The church bells ring and the women go to church, while the men go to the tavern. Nedda is confused and disturbed by her husband’s remarks and suspicious glances and admires how the birds are free to roam as they wish. Tonio appears and tries to make love to her but she takes out a whip and puts him down. Silvio Nedda’s lover arrives and persuades her to run away with him at midnight. Tonio returns to see Silvio and Nedda kissing and hurries off to tell Canio. Canio returns and hears Nedda tell Silvio that she will go with him at midnight and chases Silvio off. Canio demands that she name her lover and goes into a wild rage with jealousy. Peppe restrains Canio and Tonio advises Canio to wait until the evening when they can catch Nedda’s lover. Alone, Canio sobs that he must play the clown though his heart is breaking.
The townspeople assemble to see the play. Silvio is also in attendance. Colombina (Nedda) tells the audience that Pagliaccio (Canio) is gone for the evening and is serenaded by Arleccino (Peppe), who dismisses Colombina’s servant Taddeo (Tonio). Colombina and Arleccino share dinner until Taddeo bursts in telling the lovers that Pagliaccio is on his way and is very angry. Arleccino tells Colombina to slip a potion into Pagliaccio’s drink to make him sleep and Canio overhears Colombina utter the same words she said to Silvio. Arleccino slinks away before Pagliaccio arrives. Sarcastically Taddeo tells Pagliaccio of his wife’s innocence, causing Canio to go mad with real-life jealousy. No longer aware of the play, Canio demands that Nedda tell him her lover’s name. She tries to continue with the play, the audience applauding the realism of the “acting.” Enraged by her defiance, Canio stabs Nedda and then Silvio, who has rushed forward from the crowd to help her. Tonio cries out that the comedy is ended.
Brook Arts Center, 10 Hamilton St. Bound Brook, NJ