Pagliacci may be the most completely compelling short opera in the repertory and owes much of its impact to a brilliant story based, it is said, on true life and told through the device of a play-within-a-play. The action is set in Calabria in the deep south of Italy where the jealousies and illicit passions of a troupe of strolling actors precisely intersect with the play they are performing - to both touching and tragic effect. Leoncavallo was his own librettist, and his literary skills, allied to great melodic creativity, guarantee that in its two short acts Pagliacci - ‘Clowns’ - delivers an overwhelming emotional experience.
Pagliacci, which means Clown, is composer and librettist Leoncavallo's tragic short opera, written in the late 1800's. If you don't know the opera already, you will be entranced by the first notes of the tenor aria, which opens the audiobook. The music is romantic and heart-wrenching, and narrator David Timson quickly pulls listeners into details of the opera's setting, music, and history. He's narrating the work of expert music historian Thomas Smillie, who is unparalleled in his knowledge of opera. Timson's voice gives the educational book a fun, lighthearted appeal. Listener get to know each character in the opera intimately, enriching their experience of the music tenfold. Opera lovers and those new to the genre will be equally satisfied with this thorough introduction to Pagliacci.
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