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'Verismo' Italian Operas staged in Beijing

Reporter: Fei Ye 丨 CCTV.com

08-15-2014 00:11 BJT

Two works from the Post-Romantic 'realist' tradition were performed back to back at Beijing's National Center for Performing Arts. Over a hundred years ago, Verismo operas brought the more 'gritty' side of life to the stage, following the lush and opulent traditions of the 19th century Romantic era.

'Verismo' Italian Operas staged in Beijing

Two important pieces from a lesser-known Italian tradition - Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni, and Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo, both presented at the NCPA on Wednesday night, to a full house.

Well over a century since they were first performed, both operas have become recognized as central pillars of the Verismo tradition, a movement that sought to reject the indulgence of Romanticism, and face the often sordid realities of daily life.

Lithuanian soprano star, Violeta Urmana, plays Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana. She explained why the two operas are usually performed together.

"These kind of passion, these kind of lover triangle, are somehow commune to both operas. The periods are also very similar so just from the style it's a perfect match. And sometimes they are doing something else like Cavalleri and ballet but I think this combination works best," she said.

Internationally renowned Chinese baritone, Liu Songhu, plays Silvio in Pagliacci. He says the NCPA's creative team has tried to stick to the original productions.

'Verismo' Italian Operas staged in Beijing

"I've performed this in Germany before and the production was more modern. This time at the NCPA, it will be more traditional and realistic. The set and design shows an authentic depiction of Sicily. In Germany, the whole thing was interpreted differently, and it was set somewhere else," he said.

Liu says the two operas and the genre itself aren't well known in China, so he was worried about how they'd be received. But the crowds showed up and most seemed to be aware of what they were coming to see.

'Verismo' Italian Operas staged in Beijing

"I've never seen them but I've read a lot about these two operas. I've heard they are very realistic in their staging and acting so I'm looking forward to watching them," said an audience member Han Liyan.

"Yes these operas aren't familiar with Chinese audiences, but we can't always watch Carmen. I don't know too much about these operas but I'm here to learn," said an audience member Liu Changyuan.

Wednesday night's operas were two very difficult operas. Since it was there first time played in China, the director has made them as simple and comprehensible as possible so that the Chinese audience can understand the true Italian verismo or realism as directly as possible.

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