Cavalleria Rusticana/ Pagliacci Royal Opera House, London Until Friday ★★★★☆
This is one of the best integrated and dramatically credible Cav and Pags I have ever encountered. Director Damiano Michieletto can be annoying, but here he produces excellent work that successfully melds these two one-acters into a cogent whole.
The Olivier award-winning production is set in a grim village in southern Italy, a suitable background for the lust-in-the-dust drama that soon ensues, and a strong cast bats all the way down the order.
In Cav, Roberto Alagna, now 60, sounds really well as Turiddu, no doubt inspired by his wife, Aleksandra Kurzak, a highly effective Santuzza.
Dimitri Platanias is, in every way, a real heavyweight Alfio (Cav) and Tonio (Pag), whose portrayal of both characters is one of the great strengths of this show.
In Pag, Jorge de León’s Canio, driven to murder by his inability to control his jealousy at Nedda’s (Anna Princeva) unfaithfulness, impressed. Also extremely effective is Elena Zilio’s Mamma Lucia in Cav, playing an elderly woman with real dramatic power.
The real weak spot here, as is usual when he is involved, is the dull conducting of Daniel Oren. Why is this third-rate veteran still given what many more talented, younger conductors would regard as a good offer to participate in a long-running revival like this?
He appears because, apparently, he’s rather a favourite of the casting director, a person I have also long regarded as time-expired, and who is staying on even after Antonio Pappano leaves. Bad news, not least for a house that, in order to justify its prices, needs to bring forward real talent rather than tired mediocrities such as Oren.
Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. A distressingly clear example of that here.
dmg media (UK)