The action of the Cork Midsummer Festival production of Pagliacci begins outside the Everyman Palace Theatre on McCurtain Street where the theatre goer runs a gauntlet of assorted carnival entertainers, stilt walkers, limbo dancers , tattooed ladies and the like. Cork Operatic Society has wholeheartedly embraced the ancient Roman formula for happy audiences and their 2012 production of Leoncavello’s verismo masterpiece is a vibrant, gaudy carnival interweaving circus elements, a Victorian Music Hall setting as well as excellent singing and acting.
Director Michael Barker- Caven extends the stage into the space usually occupied by the front stalls. There is no stage curtain and as patrons enter the auditorium, the musicians in costume are reclined in various poses on an elaborate, red and gold circular podium. Throughout Act 1, the musicians remain on stage moving around the action as they play from memory. Although heavily made up, I recognise the quartet led by Marja Gaynor from a John O Brien's production of Dido and Aeneas which had many stylistic similarities to tonight’s production. The scoring for the overture is reduced to piano and the smaller ensemble is expanded to an ensemble of 30 or so players in Act 2, seated in a theatrical balcony at the stage rear.
|Leoncavello on the Lee|
Her Act I aria, Stridono lassù in which she envies the freedom of the birds was set against an acrobatic rope sequence by one of the Cork Circus Troupe. Baritone, Simon Morgan as lover Silvio in nondescript costume was a handsome enough suitor but didn’t quite convince me that Nedda would run away with him.
One of my favourite moments was David Burzotta singing and acting in the commedia del arte role of Arlecchino in Act I.I He best of all, I think, signalled the shift from reality to the ‘play within a play’ scenario.
|Cara O'Sullivan as Nedda|
The chorus of townspeople were a mix of all ages and further invaded the theatre bursting in from side entrances and surrounding the audience on all sides.
The programme notes were poor. Although very cheap at €2 , there was no plot synopsis for the opera virgins and it was impossible to read the print against the muted colour of the page.
This was fast paced, highly entertaining production and a terrific collaboration by Cork Operatic
Society, Cork Circus, Barabbas, Everyman Palace Theatre and Cork Midsummer Festival, co-directed by Barker -Caven and John O'Brien
There was a spontaneous standing ovation from the Friday night audience and I hope it is sold out for the remainder of the run. Cork is fortunate to have an opera company presenting such as innovative quality productions to entertain its citizens.
Eyepopping surround sound production of#opera #Pagliacci @EverymanPalace @CorkMidsummer Compelling performances @brenbaritone Go See
— Cathy Desmond (@fidleir) June 22, 2012