LEO NUCCI sings Tonio's Prologue 'Si può, si può?... Signore! Signori! ... Un nido di memorie' of the opera 'I Pagliacci' by Ruggero Leoncavallo (live)
James Allen Gähres, conductor
Leo Nucci, baritone
Concert live recording.
Live recorded during open public concert.
Verdi - Don Carlo - LEO NUCCI 'Per me giunto', 'O Carlo, ascolta' - James A. Gähres, cond. (live):
Verdi - Un ballo in maschera - LEO NUCCI 'Alzati, là tuo figlio' - 'Eri tu che macchiavi quell'anima' - James A. Gähres, cond. (live):
Si può?... Si può?...
Signore! Signori!... Scusatemi
se da sol me presento.
Io sono il Prologo:
Poiché in iscena ancor
le antiche maschere mette l'autore,
in parte ei vuol riprendere
le vecchie usanze, e a voi
di nuovo inviami.
Ma non per dirvi come pria:
'Le lacrime che noi versiam son false!
Degli spasimi e de' nostri martir
non allarmatevi!' No! No!
L'autore ha cercato
uno squarcio di vita.
Egli ha per massima sol
che l'artista è un uom
e che per gli uomini
scrivere ei deve.
Ed al vero ispiravasi.
Un nido di memorie
in fondo a l'anima
cantava un giorno,
ed ei con vere lacrime scrisse,
e i singhiozzi
il tempo gli battevano!
Dunque, vedrete amar
sì come s'amano gli esseri umani;
vedrete de l'odio i tristi frutti.
Del dolor gli spasimi,
urli di rabbia, udrete,
e risa ciniche!
E voi, piuttosto
che le nostre povere gabbane d'istrioni,
le nostr'anime considerate,
poiché siam uomini
di carne e d'ossa,
e che di quest'orfano mondo
al pari di voi spiriamo l'aere!
Il concetto vi dissi...
Or ascoltate com'egli è svolto.
Late in 1891, Leoncavallo set out to compose an opera similar to, but surpassing, Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, one of the primary examples verismo. Within five months, Leoncavallo had completed I Pagliacci (The Clowns), his second opera, but his first to be performed. It made him famous overnight, achieving such a success that his 20 other works for the stage are all but unknown in comparison. By the end of 1893, I Pagliacci had played everywhere from Mexico to Moscow.
The text of I Pagliacci, by the composer, is based on one of the cases encountered by Leoncavallo's father, a police magistrate in Naples. The actual case concerned a middle-aged actor who murdered his unfaithful wife, to which Leoncavallo added elements from the commedia dell'arte, such as the traveling actors, and naturalist ideas. The opera premiered at the Teatro dal Verme in Milan, on May 21, 1892.
Consisting of a Prologue and two acts, I Pagliacci is a short opera. Leoncavallo initially cast the entire drama in a Prologue and one act, but the ecstatic reception of climactic aria 'Vesti la giubba' (Put on your costume) prompted the composer to drop the curtain after it on subsequent nights, reserving the ensuing 'play within a play' for the second act. 'Vesti la giubba', with its heart-rendering 'Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto!' (Laugh and be merry, though your love betrayed you), has become the most famous number from the opera and obligatory for all tenors.
Although in I Pagliacci Leoncavallo makes no attempt to deny Italian origins of the opera, he does draw on the French opéra lyrique and makes moderate use of Wagnerian Leitmotiv. The latter is evident in the static musical symbols for clowns: Canio's motive of doubt and the motive representing the love of Nedda and Silvio. This mixture of elements from different styles allows Leoncavallo to speak with a unique voice. Leoncavallo sets his sordid subject matter to melodic material of high quality and great variety, ranging from the simplest, folk song-like tunes to Canio's extremely passionate and lyrical 'Vesti la giubba'.
The fine line that can exist between fantasy and reality is the point of the second act, in which Canio, aware of his wife's infidelity, transfers his anger into the comedy in which he plays a part. The audience on the stage believes Canio is a great actor, while we know that his rage is real. Only when real deaths occur do the viewers onstage understand the 'reality' they are witnessing. Leoncavallo then shatters this 'reality' by having Tonio, as he does in the Prologue, address us, letting us know that what we have seen is a play and urging us to go home, for 'La commedia è finita!' (the comedy is finished!).
Recordings or performances in which the character of Canio delivers the line 'the comedy is finished', are incorrect and the result of tenor vanity.
R. Leoncavallo, born April 23, 1857, Naples - died Aug. 9, 1919, Montecatini Terme, near Florence, was a Italian opera composer whose fame rests on the opera Pagliacci, which, with Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana (1890), represented a reaction against Richard Wagner and against Romantic Italian opera; both works substituted for the quasi-historical plot a sensational story from everyday life.