Dragana Radakovic as Santuzza, Diego Torre as Turiddu, Dominica Matthews as Mamma Lucia and the Opera Australia Chorus in Opera Australia's production of Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci.

What makes Opera Australia’s latest double-production so impressive

It’s not often two internationally-acclaimed operatic numbers are performed side-by-side, but when they are; it’s something of a marvel.

Take Opera Australia’s latest incarnations of the Italian Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci operas and you get just that: a stirring musical rendition, worthy of not only a special place in your memory, but a moment in history that doesn’t come ’round all that often.

Sian Pendry as Lola and the Opera Australia Chorus in Opera Australia's production of Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci.

Listen to everyone’s favourite song of hiding heartbreak, ‘Vesti la giubba’ from Pagliacci here…

The two stories are likeable in their own right – tales of love lost and the bitter sting of retribution – and come from two very different composers with a few years between them (Pietro Mascagni and Ruggero Leoncavallo respectively), though when combined as masterfully as they have bee under the direction of Damiano Michieletto, Cag & Pag (as they’re known colloquially) become such a tour de force that they give rise to some amazing vocal work befitting international acclaim.

Diego Torre as Canio, the Opera Australia Children's Chorus and the Opera Australia Chorus in Opera Australia's production of Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci.

Opera Australia is ranked amongst the top opera companies in the world, and with the likes of Diego Torre to their arsenal, it’s clear to see why. In this production, he takes-on the challenge that is performing in two similar, yet completely different librettos and embodying two completely different characters. The emotional turmoil he goes through every time he opens his mouth is worthy of a standing ovation, enough!

Torre overtakes the likes of legendary vocalist, Luciano Pavarotti by taking-on this role, because even he never amounted to performing both operas in succession.

This alone shoots not only Torre into the stratosphere of the most renowned and recognised tenors of this generation, but Opera Australia for being the platform on which he’s accomplished the feat; not an easy one when you consider the likes of Jonas Kaufmann and the like who’re blazing trails in Europe (Kaufmann is due in Sydney this July for his role in Parsifal (Wagner).

Anna Princeva as Nedda, Samuel Dundas as Silvio and Diego Torre as Canio in Opera Australia's production of Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci.

Alongside such OA favourites as baritone Jose Carbo (Alfio in Cav and the narrator in Pag), soprano Dragana Radakovic (Santuzza in Cav) and baritone Samuel Dundas (Silvio in Pag) – the performances of whom are outstanding and energetic – the graphically homicidal instalments of the Cav & Pag storylines are a must-see.

Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci are on at the Sydney Opera House from 12 January – 4 February and the Melbourne Arts Centre from 10 May – 20 May 2017. See more here.

Sian Pendry as Lola, Diego Torre as Turiddu, Samuel Dundas as Silvio and the Opera Australia Chorus in Opera Australia's production of Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci.

 

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