Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry, 1880) and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (Clowns, 1892) are the two composers’ undisputed masterpieces. These two short operas – often performed as a double bill affectionately known as ‘Cav and Pag’ – return to The Royal Opera in an Olivier Award-winning production from critically acclaimed director Damiano Michieletto.

Italian director Michieletto’s production sets the action in a small southern Italian village, as a travelling theatre visits and emotions run high. Fierce passion is unleashed in ‘Cav’, where infidelity and unrequited love lead to a duel to the death, while in ‘Pag’ an evening’s theatrical entertainment ends unexpectedly and tragically.

In another well-known double act, internationally acclaimed French-Sicilian tenor Roberto Alagna will appear on stage with his wife Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak.The couple star as husband-and-wife actors Canio and Nedda in Pagliacci.

Alagna commented: “Aleksandra is a true artist and I enjoy the special kind of chemistry and energy we experience when we are singing together. It’s a real treat for me to perform with her, especially here at Covent Garden. I am really looking forward to our joint appearance in this masterpiece of verismo by Leoncavallo that I love.”

Kurzak added: “The Royal Opera House is a special place for both me and Roberto, as we met here during rehearsals for L’elisir d’amore eight years ago. It’s wonderful to be returning to Covent Garden to perform Pagliacci together in this incredible production so many years later.”

In Cavalleria rusticana, South Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee returns to sing the rakish Turiddu, while Ukrianian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska sings his betrayed former sweetheart Santuzza. Italian mezzo-soprano Elena Zilio sings the part of Turiddu’s mother Mamma Lucia. Royal Opera regular Daniel Oren conducts the entire production.

Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci opens at the Royal Opera House on 11 April, with performances running to 2 May. The performance on Tuesday 21 April will be live-streamed into cinemas across the UK and internationally as part of the Royal Opera House’s Live Cinema Season 2019-20. Tickets are on sale now



Damiano Michieletto’s Cavalleria rusticana returns to the Royal Opera House (©2018 ROH Catherine Ashmore).