dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Pagliacci review at Paisley Opera House – ‘immersive community opera’

Scene from Scottish Opera's Pagliacci at Paisley Opera House
by -

Bill Bankes-Jones’ Pagliacci transports Leoncavallo’s rural Italian tragedy to a tent in Paisley. A performing troupe arrive to stage a commedia dell’arte show during the town’s traditional Sma’ Shot Festival.

The opera, most commonly presented in a double bill with Cavalleria Rusticana, makes a full evening’s entertainment, starting an hour before curtain up with sideshows, dressing up and a raffle to win a go at conducting the orchestra.

The 90-strong professional and community chorus add to the ambience until the troupe arrive at the head of a procession of trade union banners for an immersive, promenade first half. For the second, they bring out benches and the curtains are raised on a flat-bed lorry to reveal Columbina’s kitchen where Nedda’s tragedy will play out.

Bankes-Jones’ thoroughly accessible English translation – down to the reminder to turn off your mobiles in the prologue – is delivered with clarity throughout.

Ronald Samm is particularly thrilling as Canio. His Put on the Costume aria – on discovering Nedda’s infidelity – is spine tingling.

Robert Hayward is a forceful Tonio – here given the final line. There’s a real sense of danger to his unwanted advances towards Nedda, given an edgy telling by Anna Patalong. Nedda’s flirtation with Samuel Dale Johnson’s Silvio is a vocal triumph –and his reimagining as a Scottish Opera technician a particularly clever touch.

This is a highly entertaining production, cleverly designed and presented with attention to detail.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Scottish Opera’s immersive community production revitalises and illuminates the tragic opera
^