Pagliacci reimagined in Laughter and Tears

Victorian Opera Laughter and Tears rehearsals - photo by Charlie KinrossOperatic masterpiece Pagliacci is reimagined in a captivating new production from Victorian Opera and Circus Oz, Laughter and Tears, at the Palais Theatre from 13-18 August.

The World Premiere production revolutionises the approach to the opera by presenting it with a new connecting first act prelude drawing upon its Commedia Dell’Arte roots. Laughter and Tears stars a cast of internationally acclaimed singers, including Rosario La Spina as the tragic clown Canio, and Circus Oz’s most talented performers.

Conceived by Victorian Opera’s Artistic Director Richard Mills, he notes: “The standard presentation of Pagliacci is with Cavalleria rusticana. The opera is strengthened though by presenting it with this first act prelude we’ve created; it contextualises the work and it makes sense of its traditions for a modern audience.”

The production expands upon the Commedia Dell’Arte roots in the first act set to a soundtrack of Baroque and Renaissance music from composers such as Banchieri and Vecchi. Circus Oz troupe Dislocate showcase aerial acrobatics and the hijinks and hysterics of commedia chaos.

The connecting acts are set in a small Italian village either side of WWII. In Laughter, thwarted lovers, buffoons and foolish villains prepare for a performance in an incredible Italian theatre as the war encroaches. In Tears, the war has just ended as performers return to the theatre, the backdrop to the tragedy of Pagliacci.

Following his recent work on The Metropolitan Opera’s Pagliacci, Olivier Award-Winner and leading Commedia Dell’Arte expert Emil Wolk directs. Richard Mills returns to the pit to conduct Orchestra Victoria. Beloved Italian-Australian tenor Rosario La Spina stars as the tragic clown Canio and identifies Pagliacci as one of the true masterpieces of the operatic repertoire.

Pagliacci is such a well-written opera and tells the story so effectively. Leoncavallo achieved the perfect length and his arias and the chorus work are incredible. It flows beautifully and is such a human story,” says La Spina. “Emil and Richard are onto something which the audience will find captivating. It’s going to give audiences an opportunity to see something they haven’t before. You can see Pagliacci all around the world, but you won’t see it like this!”

Celebrated Russian soprano Elvira Fatykhova assumes the role of Canio’s unfaithful wife Nedda with renowned Italian baritone Fabio Capitanucci as her lover Silvio. The production marks their Victorian Opera debut. Set designer Julie Nelson (Sleeping Beauty), costume designer Harriet Oxley (Into the Woods) and lighting designer Eduard Ingles-Sancho (Rembrandt’s Wife) all return to the company for the production.

Laughter and Tears marks Victorian Opera’s first collaboration with Australian icon Circus Oz and the company’s ongoing commitment to reimagining opera in daring and innovative ways. The production also sees the company’s highly anticipated return to the Palais Theatre following the epic staging of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman with 3D digital scenery.

Director: Emil Wolk Conductor: Richard Mills Featuring: Rosario La Spina, Elvira Fatykhova, James Clayton, Michael Petruccelli, Fabio Capitanucci, Tim Coldwell, Geoff Dunstan, Kate Fryer, DJ Garner, Luke Taylor, Kate Amos, Daniel Carison, Michelle McCarthy, Shakira Tsindos, Victorian Opera Chorus, Orchestra Victoria Set Designer: Julie Nelson Costume Designer: Harriet Oxley Lighting Designer: Eduard Ingles-Sancho

Laughter and Tears
Palais Theatre, Lower Esplanade, St Kilda
Performances: 13, 16 & 18 August 2016 – 7:30pm

Laughter and Tears is a co-production of Victorian Opera and State Opera of South Australia, presented in association with Circus Oz. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Victorian Opera’s production of Laughter and Tears in rehearsals – photo by Charlie Kinross