Verismo Opera Sunday March 28 at 8 PM on the Lyric Stage.
Western Literature in the 19th c. turned to naturalism, a realistic portrayal of ordinary people in their everyday lives and actions, often involving a measure of sex and violence, newly fit subjects for books and drama. In Italy it was called verismo, and included a short story and play called Cavellria Rusticana by Giovanni Verga, Pietro Mascagni based his opera of the same name on those sources, and with its premiere in 1890 verismo opera was born.
Two years later, in the prologue to Cavalaria's eventual twin, I Pagliacci, Tonio tells the audience exactly what Verismo is before the opera begins. He mocks the old idea that he is there as prologue to tell the audience that the tears the characters will shed are false, and please don't be alarmed by their our agonies of violence. No, he says, what they are going to see is a slice of life, with real emotions, real love, real hate and real violence. We are not mere players, he sings, but flesh and blood just like you.
The program features a host of great verismo interpreters, including Gigli, Bjoerling, Warren, de los Angeles and many others in selections from the two most verismo of verismo operas, Cavellria Rusticana and I pagliacci.