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Cavelleria Rusticana & Pagliacci - La Scala
Rating:  NR
Runtime:  175 Minutes
Starting Date:  Sunday, March 17, 2013
Director:  Director Mario Martone; Conductor Daniel Harding
Cast:  Cavalleria Rusticana: Santuzza - Luciana D'Intino; Lola - Giuseppina Piunti; Pagliacci: Nedda - Oksana Dyka; Canio - José Cura

Event Details:  Single Seats $15.00
Groups of 10 or more $12.50

Performed on January 20, 2011

Cavalleria Rusticana

It is Easter morning in a small Sicilian village. Santuzza, Turiddu’s lover, suspects that he is striking up an affair with his old flame, Lola – despite the fact that Lola has married the well-off teamster Alfio. Santuzza begs Turiddu’s mother, Lucia, to tell her where her son is. Mamma Lucia guesses the truth about her son’s adultry, and brings Santuzza into her home as the Easter parade begins.

The square is filled with townsfolk. Santuzza cannot attend Mass – she was excommunicated for fornicating with Turridu, which scandalized her village. The procession heads into the church, including Mamma Lucia, who senses that something bad will happen. Alone, Santuzza sees Turiddu coming and confronts him about his betrayal. Lola arrives, interrupting their quarrel to mock Santuzza about her excommunication before heading into Mass. The lovers continue their argument, which climaxes when Santuzza curses Turiddu.

When Alfio arrives, Santuzza, in a frenzy, reveals to him the liaison between his wife and Turiddu. Alfio swears to avenge his honor. Once Mass is over, Turiddu offers a glass of wine to Alfio, who refuses, saying it may be poisoned. Turiddu pours the glass of wine on the ground, then embraces Alfio and bites his right ear – an ancient Sicilian rite, signifying a challenge to a duel. Alfio accepts.

The men leave the village to duel. It is over quickly. From the streets an indistinct murmur is heard, and then a wild cry from a woman rushing into the square: “Turiddu has been killed!”


Prologue: Tonio asks the audience to meditate on the nature of drama – how much is play-acted, and how much is actually real?

Act I:

A group of travelling players arrives in a new town, beating their drum and shouting that their performance will begin an hour before sunset. Tonio, the company’s hunchback servant, tries to flirt with Nedda. Her jealous husband Canio slaps him, and Tonio vows to get even.

By herself, Nedda muses uneasily on the glint of jealousy in Canio’s eyes, almost as if her husband had read her heart. She notices Tonio spying on her and rebukes him, but Tonio declares his love again. Nedda strikes him and threatens to tell Canio. Tonio mutters that she will pay for this.

Silvio, Nedda’s lover, appears. He convinces her to run away with him after the evening’s performance. Tonio has overheard the whole thing, and rushes to bring Canio to the scene. Canio flings himself at his wife, but does not get a glimpse of her lover’s face as he runs away. Canio threatens to kill Nedda, but Peppe begs him to stop, as the villagers are coming out of the church and are on their way to the performance. The actors prepare for the show, despite the outrageous backstage drama that is unfolding. Alone, Canio mourns his fate.

Act II:

The audience – including the still-unidentified Silvio – assembles festively in front of the tent stage. The performance begins, with Peppe (Harlequin), Nedda (Columbine), Tonio (Taddeo) and Canio (Pagliaccio) playing the lead roles.

Columbine is listening enraptured to the serenade which Harlequin sings to her from outside her window, but Taddeo enters and declares his love. When rejected he makes heavily ironic comments on the lady’s chastity. Harlequin climbs through the window and sits down for an intimate supper with Columbine after handing her a sleeping potion to give to her husband. The
unexpected arrival of Pagliaccio is announced by Taddeo, who looks shaken. The dramatic situation of the afternoon seems to repeat itself in theatrical pretense.

Columbine quickly sends off Harlequin with the same promise of love made to Silvio. Her words from the script ring with tremendous force in Canio’s breast. For a few moments he sticks to be play, but identifies himself ever more intensely with the role of the cuckolded Clown, until he finally lives the part utterly. With mounting violence he hammers out the question written in the script. Nedda- Columbine guesses the ambiguity of Canio’s accents, while the audience follows the performance with bated breath, still not suspecting the real drama enacted before their eyes.

When Columbine, still according to the play, implores: “Pagliaccio, Pagliaccio!” Canio suddenly unleashes all the wrath of his desperation (“No, a Clown I am not”). By now beyond all theatrical convention, he orders the woman to confess her lover’s name. The audience, too, has begun to sense that something unusual is happening on stage. Beside himself, Canio screams for the last time “His name, his name!” and stabs Nedda, who drops on her knees calling out Silvio’s name. Silvio rushes in dismay onto the stage but Canio plunges the same blade into his heart turns towards the audience and cynically proclaims: “The comedy is over!”
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