Atlanta Opera streams circus-style ‘Pagliacci’

Richard Trey Smagur performs the role of Canio in the Atlanta Opera's new version of "Pagliacci," which has now been released in a streaming version. (Felipe Barral)
Caption
Richard Trey Smagur performs the role of Canio in the Atlanta Opera's new version of "Pagliacci," which has now been released in a streaming version. (Felipe Barral)

Credit: Felipe Barral

Credit: Felipe Barral

The Atlanta Opera has released a filmed version of its Big Tent production “Pagliacci” on the digital streaming platform, Spotlight Media, which will allow viewers who missed the outdoor performances last fall a second chance to see the updated classic.

This new version of the Ruggero Leoncavallo story is set in a time of widespread disease, and the characters must deal with the same trials we all face in the pandemic of 2021.

The commedia dell’arte troupe of Leoncavallo’s opera has become a traveling circus in the new version. Canio (played by Richard Trey Smagur), the leader of the troupe, is married to Nedda, performed by Talise Trevigne. Nedda loves Silvio (Joseph Lattanzi) and, in turn, she is loved by Tonio (Reginald Smith).

The faithless lovers eventually come to a bad end, a common fate of the characters in “verismo” opera, which often featured melodramatic, violent plots and every-day characters.

“Pagliacci,” or “Clowns,” is Leoncavallo’s best-known success, and contains one of the most familiar arias in the world of opera.

Last fall, faced with the difficulty of safely staging a large theatrical work in the time of COVID-19, the Atlanta Opera improvised, putting on smaller-scale productions that kept safe distances between performers themselves, and between the stage and the audience. The shows were mounted outdoors, under an open-sided tent pitched on the baseball field at Oglethorpe University.

Reginald Smith Jr. sings the role of Tonio in the Leoncavallo opera, "Pagliacci," now being streamed online in a new filmed version created by the Atlanta Opera. (Felipe Barral)
Caption
Reginald Smith Jr. sings the role of Tonio in the Leoncavallo opera, "Pagliacci," now being streamed online in a new filmed version created by the Atlanta Opera. (Felipe Barral)

Credit: Felipe Barral

Credit: Felipe Barral

The Big Tent production of “Pagliacci” won admirers. Opera News singled out the “godlike voice” of baritone Reginald Smith, Jr.’s Tonio and praised Richard Trey Smagur’s “supercharged tenor.”

Tomer Zvulun, the company’s artistic and general director, directed and conceived the new production, which was filmed by Felipe Barral. The filmed version, performed in Italian with English subtitles, puts the audience up close to the performers, something that would be difficult in conventional opera staging.

In a statement, Zvulun said “This film captures not only the fictional story of a clown and his troupe of circus performers. It captures the truth of a troupe of singers in Atlanta, during a pandemic, who have the grit and perseverance to continue to tell stories against all odds.”

Online access to Spotlight Media is priced at $15 for a month, or $99 for a year per, viewing household.

Talise Trevigne, in the role of Nedda, is at the center of two love triangles that drive the tragic action in  new filmed version of Pagliacci."  (Felipe Barral)
Caption
Talise Trevigne, in the role of Nedda, is at the center of two love triangles that drive the tragic action in new filmed version of Pagliacci." (Felipe Barral)

Credit: Felipe Barral

Credit: Felipe Barral

The service currently offers filmed versions of “Pagliacci” and “The Kaiser of Atlantis,” the first two productions in the Big Tent series, plus the popular “Love Letters to Atlanta” series of shorts, behind the scenes footage and other special features. A la carte rentals are also available for select content, including “Pagliacci.”

For information, atlantaopera.org

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