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VIRGINIA Opera's Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci, 3/30-4/1

March 26, 2007
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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE ARTS WELCOMES VIRGINIA OPERA’S DOUBLE-BILL PRODUCTION OF
CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA / I PAGLIACCI
Production features debuts of Teatro Colón leading tenor Gustavo López Manzitti as Turiddu and Canio, and Metropolitan Opera veteran mezzo-soprano
Jane Dutton as Santuzza,
and showcases the return of Virginia Opera veterans,
including soprano Cristina Nassif in the role of Nedda.
Detailed staging by celebrated Marriage of Figaro director Lorna Haywood.


Fairfax, Virginia March 1, 2007—The final performances of Virginia Opera’s 2006-2007 season in Fairfax brings audiences to Old World Sicily with the double-bill production commonly known as “CAV/PAG,” featuring two of Italian opera’s most beloved one-act tragedies – Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci. Performances are Friday, March 30, 2007 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 1, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. A free wine and cheese reception takes place on Friday, March 30, 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall lobby. Both performances feature artistic discussions, free to ticketholders, 45-minutes prior to each curtain, on the hall’s Grand Tier.

Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, the title of which translates to “rustic chivalry,” reveals with heart-rending music the tragic events after the soldier Turiddu returns home to discover that his fiancée has married another. Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, in which betrayal leads to bloody revenge, is familiar to audiences the world over. Playing the role of the clown Pagliaccio in a story-within-a-story, Canio is faced with the task of bringing his audience to laughter, even though the fresh discovery of his wife’s callous infidelity tears at his soul.
Gustavo López Manzitti, leading tenor at Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, makes his Virginia Opera debut in the leading roles of Turiddu in Cavalleria and Canio in Pagliacci. Mezzo-soprano Jane Dutton, a Metropolitan Opera veteran, makes her company debut in the lead role of Santuzza in Cavalleria. Returning for Pagliacci is nationally acclaimed former Virginia Opera young artist Cristina Nassif (Carmen, 2006; La Traviata, 2005) as Nedda. Also returning are French-Canadian mezzo-soprano Genevičve Després (The Marriage of Figaro, 2006; La Traviata, 2005) as Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria and baritone Michael Todd Simpson (The Marriage Of Figaro, 2006) as Silvio in Pagliacci.

Returning British stage director Lorna Haywood (The Marriage Of Figaro, 2006) explains how she unites the two stories: “The pairing of these operas is apt,” says Ms. Haywood. “The action of both takes place in Southern Italy on important Feast Days: Cavalleria Rusticana occurs on Easter Sunday, while I Pagliacci is set in August, on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. Infidelity, passion and murder are common to both plots.
“I decided to set both operas in the same small Sicilian village during an uncertain and dangerous time, the 1940s during Mussolini’s tenure as Italy’s dictator. By then the country’s economy was destroyed, the people impoverished, downtrodden and war-weary. They tried desperately to cling to the old ways; their ancient codes of honor and their religious traditions in which the Feast Days were an important and stabilizing influence in their lives.”

Virginia Opera Artistic Director Peter Mark, who will conduct all performances, says, “Opera's most famous twins – ‘Cav’ and ‘Pag’ – are not only thrilling dramas based on the raw passions of ordinary people, but soaring and searing musical icons of realistic human situations and struggles, immediately recognizable to anyone who hears and sees them for the first time. Having been annually on the operatic ‘Hit Parade’ for over 100 years since their creation, we are proud to present them together again here in Virginia.” The double-bill was staged just once before at Virginia Opera, in 1988.

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Tickets for VIRGINIA OPERA’S CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA/I PAGLIACCI are $44-$86 (FRIDAY) and $48-$90 (SUNDAY). Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.tickets.com. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K. Visit www.gmu.edu/cfa

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON is a program of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the professional presenting arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies, and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater, and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music, and Theater.