LOVE certainly incites fervour – and perhaps even foolishness.
West Australian Opera is set to play out the myriad intense and irrational emotions that come with being crazy in love with its production of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci – a double-bill commonly referred to as Cav and Pag.
Sawyers Valley resident Elisa Wilson will find herself right at the heart of the musical melodrama, performing the role of Nedda, in Pagliacci – a tale about a band of travelling players or actors (pagliacci) coming to a small southern Italian town, and ultimately leading to a dramatic crime of passion.
Pagliacci is an opera within an opera, so to speak, with Nedda performing the role of Columbine, a woman not very happy within her marriage.
“Her husband Canio beats her regularly and is vicious and jealous of her,” Elisa said.
“In her unhappiness, she has taken quite a hunky, young boyfriend and promises she will eventually leave the play and run away with him.
“But Canio finds out and goes through a murderous rage.”
The human tragedy for Canio is in being unable to distinguish between what is happening in the play and his own life.
“The title of the show – Pagliacci – is the dichotomy of the show; what’s real and what’s been played,” Elisa said.
“His character itself has the crowd laughing at him, but on a human level, he’s hurting underneath all this.”
The WAAPA-trained Elisa, who performed Nedda for WA Opera some five years ago, said the demanding role required her to be in peak physical condition.
“I’ve forgotten how hard it is; I’m covered in bruises,” she laughed.
“There’s a lot of running around, climbing up ladders, jumping and dancing… she doesn’t leave the stage!
“Singers generally have to be extremely fit, and for me it’s a lot of speed-walking and weights.”
Structured around simple-to-follow storylines, Elisa said Cav and Pag acted as the perfect introduction to the world of opera.
“Someone new to opera doesn’t have a 2½ hour attention span.
Here, you have a one-hour opera, a big break and then another one-hour opera,” she said. “It’s like a box of chocolates; you take out two really delicious chocolates.”
Cav and Pag shows at His Majesty’s from August 7 to 21.