Review Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci WNO by Helen Joy


 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Before I say anything about the production, let me say a few deservedly kind words about the staff at the Wales Millennium Centre. Always prompt to reply to calls and emails, always delightful at the counter; and on this occasion, exceptionally welcoming, generous and professional. A special thanks for the glass of water at the bar and the seat at the back on my return after a sharp exit in the first half. Note to self: keep cough sweets in handbag.


All production photographs credit Bill Cooper

Now, it is an interesting thing to change seats during a production. One minute I am gazing directly at centre stage and the next, I am at the back, looking side on. We forget how staging has accommodated us over the years and a 1970s repro set is a thing of beauty from the front; a thing of inconvenience from the side.

However, it is always a lovely thing. An old Victorian Christmas card has come to life in all its grandeur and its pathos. All bonnets and bayonets, Cavalleria rusticana is a comforting production. Camilla Roberts is cripplingly and sweetly intense, David Kempster is healthily robust and Gwyn Hughes Jones sturdily in control throughout.


It is dense and fat and fulsome – a wealthy work, confidently wrought.

Pagliacci is cloaked in the familiar faded colours but we are now in the 1940s, just a touring car for clowns and a troupe of singers keep us watching, listening.


A very funny cavalier play within a play becomes a tragedy within a tragedy; and we love it all. Meeta Raval is hot opera – sexy, winsome and hopeful, a tricky character well-played and so beautifully sung. Kempster and Hughes Jones give us opera on a plate – they sing a rich dish of verse and music designed to entertain and please as only the Italians can. It is superb.


It is a production reminiscent of a period of flares and strikes but contemporary in its slick direction; popular pieces deserving of the magic touch of the Welsh National Opera.

Opera, Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci

Wales Millennium Centre

Mascagni & Leoncavallo

Welsh National Opera

Conductor            Carlo Rizzi

Director                 Elijah Moshinsky

Designer               Michael Yeargan

Lighting Designer              Howard Harrison

Seen:              7.15pm, 26th May, 2016

Reviewer:      Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics

Running:        Birmingham Hippodrome 9 Jun – 11 Jun

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff 26 May – 4 Jun
Cavalleria rusticana cast
Turiddu Gwyn Hughes Jones
Alfio David Kempster
Santuzza Camilla Roberts
Mamma Lucia Anne-Marie Owens
Lola Rebecca Afonwy-Jones
Pagliacci cast   Canio Gwyn Hughes Jones
Tonio David Kempster
Nedda Meeta Raval
Silvio Gyula Nagy
Beppe Trystan Llŷr Griffiths

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