Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 4, 1992 · Page 28
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Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page 28

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Tuesday, February 4, 1992
Page 28
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PAGE 28 TUESDAY. FEBRUARY 4, 1992 Arts THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS FEATURES Maestro & tenor make beautiful music together by Tom Di Nardo Daily News Classical Music Writer The collaboration of conductor Riccardo Muti and supertenor Luciano Pavarotti in "I Pag-liacci" has caused the kind of ."wild audience reaction usually lav ished on rock acts. Tickets for three shows tomorrow, Saturday and Feb. 14 vanished the day they were put on sale in mid-December, for there are really two audiences for this event First, there are those who were enthralled by the excitement of Muti's six previous concert operas using tne weu-renearsed Philadelphia Or chestra instead of smaller pit orches tras and wouldn t miss his last as music director. , Then there are those lured by the immense stardom of Pavarotti, whose larger-than-life persona has captured the imagination of millions who have never been to an opera house, -(He's scheduled to sing an as-yet-unnamed work with the Opera Company of Philadelphia next season.) Muti and Pavarotti have never worked together in an operatic production before. (They have collaborated in some concerts and a recording of the Verdi Requiem.) And the tenor has not sung "I Pagliacci's" Canio since his 1965 recording. It's not a large tenor role, compared to some, but he still appears to savor every note even in rehearsals last week. There wasnt a trace of clashing temperaments, with Pavarotti patient and attentive to Muti's instructions. Usually dressed in black windbreaker and scarf, the famed tenor occasionally munched snacks during choral sections, showed his wide-open smile during light moments, then stood and unleashed that lustrous full voice to an appreciative orchestra and chorus. The other singers have worked often with Muti, and the magnificent singing of all five principals the others are Daniella Dessi, Juan Pons, Ernesto Gavazzi and Paolo Coni in rehearsal portends a special event Pons, always in suit and tie, drew applause from the musicians for his radiant Prologue, and Dessi lent a gleam to her singing. The composer, Ruggero Leoncavallo, doesnt deserve to be lost in the shuffle. "I Pagliacci" ("The Clowns") is the only one of his IS operas that has survived; his "La Boheme" suffered in comparison to Puccini's beloved work with the same characters. Leoncavallo was in a Wagnerian phase, having completed the first part of a trilogy about the Renaissance, when he De-See PAGLIACCI Page 35 1 ! ! iV J'r A MICHAEL MERCANTI DAILY NEWS Riccardo Muti and Luciano Pavarotti rehearse Sunday in Muti's office backstage at the Academy of Music The story of 'I Pagliacci' Leoncavallo's "I Pagliacci" will be presented in concert performance, meaning the leads will sing in front of the orchestra without sets and costumes. Libretti will be provided for those who want to read as well as listen. But for those unfamiliar with the opera or not fluent in Italian the following synopsis may be necessary, since there's no action to follow. Characters . - Luciano Pavarotti (tenor);. Canio, a contts actor. Daniella Dessi (soprano):. Nedda, an actor, Casio's wife. " - Juan Pons (baritone): Tonio, a hunchback down. Ernesto Gavazzi (tenor): Beppe, an actor. " Paolo Com (ban- t , : , . tone): Silvio, a vil- . rT': A lager. Westminster Symphonic Choir and Philadelphia Boys Choir audience and townspeople. Action The opera is a play within a play, with the members of a traveling group of actors and clowns playing to an audience (sung by the chorus) in the Cala-brian town of Mon-talto. After the over ture, Tonio sings his Prologue, "Si puo" (usually delivered by the hunchback in front of the curtain). He begs the audience to understand that they are not portraying just characters, but people of flesh and blood just like them. The curtain opens onto the troupe's entrance into the town. A chorus of citizens welcomes them, recognizing the familiar clown figures of the Italian comme-dia dell arte. Canio invites everyone to the show that evening in "Un grande spettacolo." When Tonio tries to woo Canio's wife, Nedda, Canio rebukes and beats him, and Tonio promises to get even. Canio says hell tolerate clowning on the stage, but offstage he will not stand for any treachery "Un MICHAEL MERCANTI DAILY NEWS Two choirs: Philadelphia Boys and Westminster , tal gioco." Church bells call the locals away. Canio and Beppe head for the nearest tavern while Nedda muses in "Stridono lassu" about Canio's jealousy, her near-imprisonment and her dream of being free as the birds overhead. Tonio declares his love for her, but she rejects him, eventually striking him with a whip. Again, Tonio vows revenge. Nedda's lover Silvio arrives, expressing his loneliness in "Decidi il mio destin" and urging her to run away with him in "Tutto scordiam." Tonio sees them and spitefully brings Canio back just after Silvio escapes. Nedda refuses to admit the name of her lover to Canio, but Beppe reminds them -all to get prepared ""lb the show. - Alone, while put- . ting on his makeup, Canio sings the classic aria "Vesti la giubba" ("Put on your costume"), expressing the heart-break masked behind his clown's face. . -. In Scene n, Tonio .beats the drum tb-J start the show. Silvio plots a getaway with Nedda, who is selling tickets. The audience is unruly, and the show begins with Beppe and Nedda playing a scene in which Tonio is her lover while her husband Canio is away. The tableau gets too real for Canio, whose anger makes him deviate wildly from the script. He sings that he is no longer a clown in "No, Pagliaccio non son." The audience believes they are seeing great acting, but finally Canio's insistence on knowing the name of Nedda's lover becomes a confrontation. Canio stabs Nedda, who speaks Silvio's name; Silvio runs to help her and is also stabbed by Canio. To the horrified audience, Tonio exclaims the chilling final, spoken line: "La commedia e finita" ("The comedy is over"). Tom DI Nardo Ticketless hordes: A recording's in the works by Tom Di Nardo Daily News Classical Music Writer Those unlucky opera-goers without tickets to "I Pagliacci" at the Academy of Music will have to wait about a year, but they'll eventually get to hear it on a Philips CD. Despite the problems of recording in the acoustically dead Academy, the Philips wizards worked enough electronic magic on last year's "Tosca" playing it back in an acoustically ideal Dutch church and then re-recording it to win Muti's approval The "I Pagliacci" performances, using a forest of microphones, will be taped for the same difficult resuscitation process. It's a tough call for Muti: perhaps not exactly the sound he wanted, but close enough to retain these two important late peaks of his tenure. The Philadelphia Orchestra's recordings have been famous since the 1920s under Leopold Stokowski. "But the competition is much greater now," said Muti at a reception last week given by the committee planning an April 22 gala concert in his honor. "You have to constantly prove how good you are. America has to think about the unification of Europe, for the future is based in mass media, in recording and home video." The irony of just having conducted an anniversary concert celebrating the Academy of Music, when the house is not equipped for audio or video recording, struck Muti emotionally. To him, a new hall to beam the Philadelphians into the global market is a matter of survivaL "It's a question of choice," Muti emphasized. "You can be provincial or international. I grew up in a provincial place, so I understand both sides. But I don't want to imagine our players watching their colleagues in Moscow, Berlin, Vienna andeverywhere else every night on their televisions. It eventually will bring the leve of the orchestra down. "I may seem critical of Philadelphia, because I think we can do better, but I'm also critical of my own hometown, and of myself. People thought that because I didn't have a home in Philadelphia that I wasnt interested. "I was here from age 38 to SO the best years as a lover and now I'm bringing back the ruins," he joked. "I told the mayor how important the arts are to the city: 'Remember that we are not clowns who entertain. We are one of the great orchestras in the world, and it is your obligation to allow us to continue." ' t r v. r. :. .

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