There is nothing more exhilarating than being transported from this stressed out world to the complete knockout world of "real opera." This happened to me Saturday afternoon at Lyric's dress rehearsal, where I succumbed completely to the wiles of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, an operatic warhorse if ever there was one. But it WORKS! And in this case it was on account of the lovers - well it would be, wouldn't it? These are Silvio and Nedda, roles taken quite marvellously by Christopher Feigum (a major step forward for him) and Ana Maria Martinez who is stunning in her Lyric debut. That central love scene for Silvio and Nedda is done by these two super young artists in a way that captured me completely. I may be a bit of a sucker for this stuff - but it has to be good to get me. And it did!
So the short message is - try to get to Pagliacci. Its Siamese twin Cavalleria Rusticana is a different matter. No fault of Lyric - its just a bit of nonsense, really, but perfectly well done. Personally, for what it is worth, I think that you get a great evening with just Pagliacci - it does not need a companion piece. And if you want to convince the public that they are getting their money's worth, then there is a place for an intermission. Just spend the money on the Pagliacci I say!
And a last personal note - the best Canios I ever saw were Jon Vickers and Placido Domingo. Domingo also sang Turiddu the same evening - this at Covent Garden a year or two back (multiply by at least ten).