Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 14, No. 3, 2015
  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Nancy Snipper
Louis René Beres
Daniel Charchuk
Nick Catalano
Lynda Renée
Farzana Hassan
Betsy L. Chunko
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
  Music Editors Serge Gamache
Diane Gordon
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somerville
Mona Eltahawy
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Navi Pillay
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci



Nick Catalano is a TV writer/producer and Professor of Literature and Music at Pace University. He reviews books and music for several journals and is the author of Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter, New York Nights: Performing, Producing and Writing in Gotham and A New Yorker at Sea. His latest book, Tales of a Hamptons Sailor, is now available. For Nick's reviews, visit his website:

The Metropolitan Opera’s two new productions of Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci by David McVicar have injected new dimensions into the company’s wordwide HD simulcast presentations. Begun in 2006 with viewing in just nine theaters in Britain, Japan, and Norway, the Met’s HD season has now expanded and in 2014 presented ten operas in over 2000 theaters in 66 countries including more than 800 U.S. theaters. The box office hit $60 million last year (average ticket prices are $23) with the Met splitting 50-50 with theater owners and providing a much needed relief to its financial headaches.

Since its inception, the HD arrangement has predictably transformed the opera experience by adding cinematic production values and utilizing new approaches in acting and movement. While there is no doubt great pleasure in viewing a Met production from a fourth row orchestra seat (priced at $450), the HD live experience successfully challenges that of the opera house patron. The obvious advantages include: greater audience awareness of new acting approaches; new audience intimacy with stage ambience from increasingly expert camera skills; instant libretto contact from on-screen translation; closer psychological cathartic experience for audiences; and gossipy entr’acte interviews with the stars as the HD audience watches dozens of technicians expertly change the massive sets.

It is difficult to compare mediums in dramatic art but Shakespeare gives us a direct example of the limitations of the stage. At the outset of Henry V the chorus (a device rarely used by the Bard) tells the audience that they will need to push their imaginations into high gear because the scenes will rapidly shift from England to France and back again several times culminating in a scene where thousands of troops will clash at the battle of Agincourt. Shakespeare knew that these movements and epic battle scenes could not be realistically depicted on the tiny stage of the Globe playhouse. As the chorus speaks, it is as if the playwright himself is talking and envisioning a day in the future when motion pictures will arrive and magically solve these problems.

Dramatically confirming Shakespeare’s prophetic vision, the Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci HD live presentation with the immediacy of the big screen and the power of the camera deliver Mascagni’s and Leoncavallo’s art with new energy.

Reviewers everywhere have already written the praises of the Met production and the performers. They have lauded the subtleties of McVicar’s new creation, crediting Met director Peter Gelb for his initiative in replacing Franco Zeferelli’s 40 year old production. Deserved plaudits have been given to tenor Marcelo Alvarez who took on both Turiddu in Cavalleria and Canio in Pagliacci, a daunting task. Kudos have been bestowed on sopranos Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza, Patricia Racette as Nedda and conductor Fabio Luisi.

Little commentary has been made, however, of the HD impact.

In Cavalleria, Mascagni contrasts the wild passions of Sicily against its rigid religious tradition. McVicar’s stark black set and the black garb of the town’s denizens underscore the repression of the town’s denizens and their mafia surroundings. The camera deepens our awareness of Sicilian culture and intensifies our feelings for the tragic betrayal of Santuzza and the hopeless adulterous frustration of Turiddu. The offstage screams and cries of his murder strengthen the action because of rapid-fire camera work. Santuzza’s psychological deterioration and her awareness of abandonment develop slowly but the camera records the growing depth of her despair with an immediacy which adds a new melodramatic dimension to the action.

In Pagliacci there is careful cinematic-type direction of the passion between Nedda and lover Silvio played by baritone Lucas Meachem. The erotic movement and positioning of the writhing bodies on the running board of a truck reveal the wanton sexuality with an immediacy that only camera close-ups can capture -- the conspicuous carnal activity of these southern Italians (this time from a village in Calabria) is vital to an understanding of their irresistible adulterousness and the camera underscores this.

There is important irony in the story. The farcical pie-in-the-face activity of the clowning stagehands as they prepare the stage for the evening’s Harlequin and Columbine comedy is funnier because of the camera. And the contrast of this scene with the immediately following bloody violence of Nedda and Silvio’s murders owes much to the camera for its revelation of the irony as Tonio announces that the comedy is over to the horrified audience.

Viewers of this HD live series cannot help but marvel at the educational value they possess. Young audiences who have little knowledge of the historical backgrounds of opera libretti, less acquaintanceship with current singers, and no knowledge of Italian can become opera fans in no time if they so desire. Accessibility is the key to learning and the HD experience far exceeds that of a live performance in a balcony seat.

Next season the Met will include nine operas in the HD series including four new productions. Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Otello (new production) will open the season in October followed by Wagner’s Tannhauser. Later, three operas by Puccini Turandot, Manon Lescaut (new production), and Madama Butterfly will be presented. Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux (a Met premiere) will conclude the season in April 2016.



Help Haiti = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices
Film Ratings at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
2012 Festival Montreal en Lumiere
2014 IMAGE + NATION film festival (Montreal)
David Solway's Blood Guitar CD
Andrew Hlavacek - Arts & Culture Blog (Montreal)
2014 Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal, Oct. 08-19st, (514) 844-2172
CINEMANIA (Montreal) - festival de films francophone 6-16th novembre, Cinema Imperial info@514-878-0082
Nuit d'Afrique: July 8th - July 20st
Film Ratings at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
2014 Montreal Francofolies Music Festival with Lynda Renée
2014 Space for Life Concerts @Montreal Botanical Gardens
Lynda Renée: Chroniques Québécois - Blog
2014 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL (Montreal) North America's Premier Genre Festival July 17-Aug. 5th
Montreal World Film Festival
2012 Montreal International Documentary Festival Nov. 7th - 18th
Listing + Ratings of films from festivals, art houses, indie
Montreal Jazz Festival
Montreal Guitar Show July 2-4th (Sylvain Luc etc.). border=
2013 Montreal Chamber Music Festival
Arion Baroque Orchestra Montreal
April 25th to May 4th: Montreal
Bougie Hall Orchestera Montreal
2012 Festival Montreal en Lumiere
2008 Jazz en Rafale Festival (Montreal) - Mar. 27th - April 5th -- Tél. 514-490-9613 ext-101
CD Dignity by John Lavery available by e-mail: - 10$ + 3$ shipping.
© Roberto Romei Rotondo
Festivalissimo Film Festival - Montreal: May 18th - June 5th (514 737-3033
Photo by David Lieber:
Armand Vaillancourt: sculptor
Canadian Tire Repair Scam [2211 boul Roland-Therrien, Longueuil] = documents-proofs
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis