Ruggiero Leoncavallo proves that there are one-hit wonders, and there are one-hit wonders. Although he composed several operas, including a version of La Bohème that never came close to matching Puccini's in popularity, Leoncavallo has only one show that remains popular. And what a show it is — Pagliacci bristles with the piquant combination of misery and murder that satisfies the human heart. Canio, leader of an itinerant theater group with his wife, Nedda, stops in a small community to play the tale of a woman who plots to leave her husband for her lover. But during this evening's performance, life trumps art as Nedda actually does scheme to run off with her lover. Shortly before the curtain, Canio catches Nedda in flagrante, but does not see who the other man is — yet the show must go on. And so Canio puts on his clown costume while singing the aching Recitar! Vesta la giubba, and then takes the stage and takes care of business. New Opera Saint Louis performs the woeful tale of Pagliacci at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday (January 30 through February 1) at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-865-0038 or www.newoperastl.org). Tickets are $22 to $30.
Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2009