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Cavalleria Rusticana – Pietro Mascagni
Before Turiddu was called to military service, he got engaged to Lola. When he returned home from the army, he was disappointed to find that while he was gone Lola had married the wealthy Alfio. Turiddu tries to forget his sorrows with Santuzza…
Easter morning in a village in Sicily
Turiddu serenades Lola, with whom he has re-established contact. The village inhabitants are happy because it is Spring. Driven by a feeling of anxiety, Santuzza looks for Turridu at his mother, Lucia´s, tavern on the village square. Alfio, who is awya on business, returns and sings about his wife´s fidelity. Easter bells summon the villagers to early morning Mass.
Santuzza, feeling that she is wicked due to her relationship with Turiddu, remains outside the church, She suspects that Turiddu is unfaithful and confides her sorrows to his mother. He is taken to task, but he resorts to excuses. However, as Lola passes by, he frogets Santuzza and her accusations, pushes her away and runs after Lola. Santuzza curses him. Deeply wounded and with hurt pride, she reveals to Alfio the adulterous relationship his wife has with Turiddu. In a rage, Alfio swears to seek revenge. Only now does Santuzza realize with despair what a tragic state of affairs she has caused.
When the church service is over, Turiddu invites everyone to join him in a traditional drink. He also offers Alfio a cup. Alfio refuses rudely. Turiddu realizes that Alfio knows about the adultery. They challenge each other to a duel according to Sicilian ritual.
Fear of death rises in Turiddu and he begs his mother for her blessing Santuzza. Then he goes to the agreed upon meeting place for the duel.
The cry, « Turiddu has been murdered » ends the tragedy.
Pagliacci - Ruggero Leoncavallo
Tonio, an actor who plays the part of Taddeo in the comedy, outlines the play in the prologue speaking, as it were, for the playwright : for once, the author would like to be a painter whose subject is real life even if he is using actors to do so. However, we should not dwell on the dancing actors, but rathersubmerge ourselves into the souls of the people.
The story begins on the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven, August 15.
Scene 1. – Canio´s troupe of actors enters, warmly welcomed by the villagers. In addition to Nedda, the wife of the manager, Peppe and Tonio are members of the theater group. Canio announces a performance for tongiht. When Tonio tries to help Nedda out of the wagon, Canio pushes him alway jealously. The actors are invited to have a drink. Someone jokes that Tonio is only too happy to stay behind so that he can have a rendezvous with Nedda. Canio reacts violently : in plays he may take the part of a clumsy, betrayed husband, but in real life he would never accept infidelity.
Bells summon the villagers to evening church services.
Scene 2. – Nedda is upset by Canio´s thinly disguised threats. She feels confined by this jealousy and would like to escape her invisible cage so that she could be as free as a bird…
Tonio eavesdropped on her. He wants to force his love on Nedda ; he is, however, scornfully rejected.
Scene 3. – Silvio, a young farmer, appears, Nedda has fallen in love with him. He entreats her to leave Canio and run away with him tonight. At first she hesitates, but then agrees without suspecting that Tonio has heard the two of them talking and hastily summoned Canio out of the nearby tavern. Just as Nedda is saying goodbye to her lover, Canio bursts on the scene raging mad with jealousy. Silvio manages to get away withou tbeing recognized. Now Canio´s rage is turned against Nedda. He threatens her with his knife and demands that Nedda reveals her friend´s name. She remains silent. Peppe is able to get the knife away from Canio and, thus, the worst is avoided. What is more, it is almost time for the people to arrive for the performance. With difficulty Canio calms himself and gets ready for the play.
Scene 1.- Shortly before the comedy begins : Tonio beats on a large drum ; the audience, including Silvio, is waiting with anticipation. Nedda, who is collecting money, warns her lover about Canio´s jealousy.
Scene 2.- The play about Columbina, Arlecchino, Taddeo and Pagliaccio begins. When Nedda in her role as Colombina uses the same words to say goodbye to the serenading Arlecchino as she spoke to Silvio, Canio gets the play and real life all mixed up. Beside himself with jealousy, he demands on the public stage to know the name of Nedda´s lover. Colombina/Nedda tries to resume the play, bu Canio threatens all the more. Even the audiencebegins to suspect that something over and above the play is going on. When Nedda remains stubbornly silent, Pagliaccio/Canio stabs her and kills her. Her cries for help, directed at Silvio, result in Canio turning to the youth who is hurrying to her side and he kills him as well. « La commedia è finita ». The play is over.