As per tradition, the double bill kicks off with Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) by Italian composer Pietro Mascagni. San Diego Opera production notes describe the one-act piece as "a tragic tale of infidelity, revenge and violence that takes place on Easter day in a Sicilian village."
American tenor Richard Leech - a San Diego Opera favorite who debuted with the company as Faust in 1988 - is making his role debut as the young soldier Turiddu. He is joined by soprano Carter Scott - formerly an ensemble member with the company - in the role of peasant girl Santuzza. They are joined by New Zealand mezzo-soprano Sarah Castle as Lola, Irish baritone Bruno Caproni making his company debut as the teamster Alfio and Judith Christin as Mamma Lucia.
For the second part of the evening, life imitates art in Ruggero Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, "which takes place in an Italian village where a crowd welcomes a traveling troupe of actors led by Canio," according to notes. "While onstage, Canio and Nedda each perform ironically parallel roles in a play about infidelity and revenge. During the performance, the offstage drama overwhelms Canio, [leaving a] bewildered audience [looking] on, unsure if Canio has crossed the line from make-believe to murder."
Famed Argentinean tenor Jos_ Cura stars as Canio, a signature role in his repertoire that he has previously performed to great acclaim in Europe. This production marks not only his San Diego Opera debut, but also his first time performing the role in the Americas. He will be bringing his Canio to the Metropolitan Opera next season.
Soprano Elizabeth Futral makes her role debut as Canio's wife Nedda. Also featured are American baritone Scott Hendricks as Silvio and Bruno Caproni (Alfio in the first part of the double-bill) as Tonio.
San Diego Opera Principal Guest Conductor Edoardo M‹ller conducts and former San Francisco Opera and Canadian Opera General Director, Lotfi Mansouri, directs.
NOTE: Bruno Caproni has withdrawn from this evening's performance due to illness. American baritone, Mark Rucker, who arrived in San Diego today to begin rehearsals for Aida, will sing Alfio/Tonio. It is still to be announced who will perform the roles for the remaining three performances- on March 28, March 30 and April 2.
The final two operas of San Diego Opera's season will be Verdi's Aida - beginning April 12 - and Bizet's The Pearl Fishers in May.
For information and tickets, visit www.sdopera.com
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All photos by Ken Howard for San Diego Opera.