I Pagliacci

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I Pagliacci is an Italian opera in a prologue and two acts, with music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo (1857-1919)[1].

Known in English simply as Pagliacci.

The original text

The opera premiered at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan on 21 May 1892, conducted by Arturo Toscanini, and was done in London in 1893, soon after the Italian premiere, with Nellie Melba playing "Nedda". Opened in New York on 15 June 1893.

Over the years it has frequently been staged as a double bill with Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945)[2].

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1893-4: Performed as I Pagliacci by the Lyric Opera Company on tour in South Africa, including performances in the Opera House, Cape Town, during October, under the management of Edgar Perkins and Arturo Bonamici, in this case done as a double bill with Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni), with a company that included Leonora Braham and Marguerite Macintyre.

1899: Performed and taken on a tour the South African cities and towns by the visiting Arthur Rousbey Grand English Opera Company, under the management of Frank de Jong and Herbert Flemming, appearing in Cape Town's Opera House in the second half of the year.

1905: Performed and taken on a tour the South African cities and towns by the visiting Moody-Manners Opera Company, under the management of the Wheeler Brothers. They opened their tour in the Opera House, Cape Town, during February, before going on a tour of the Northern provinces. Their repertoire consisted of Cavelleria Rusticana, I Pagliacci and Faust and the tour ended in Cape Town again, with a farewell season of the three operas in the Good Hope Theatre, opening on 24 April.

1929: A concert version was presented in Cape Town, conducted by William Pickerill, featuring Pierre de Beer, Alfred Selby and Timothy Farrell (Saturday 5 October 1929).

1957: Presented by the Pretoria Opera Group.

1971: Presented by the EOAN Group.

1972: Presented by NAPAC Opera.

1998: Presented at Spier (21–7 March)

2002: Presented by Cape Town Opera in a double bill with Cavalleria Rusticana (3–12 October)




D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.400, 407, 422

Wayne Muller. 2018. A reception history of opera in Cape Town: Tracing the development of a distinctly South African operatic aesthetic (1985–2015). Unpublished PhD thesis.

Sjoerd Alkema. 2012. "Conductors of the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra, 1914-1965: a historical perspective". University of Cape Town. Unpublished PhD thesis.

Alexandra Xenia Sabina Mossolow. 2003. The career of South African soprano Nellie du Toit, born 1929. Unpublished Masters thesis. University of Stellenbosch.

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