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|Turiddu & Canio||Jorge de León|
|Alfio & Tonio||Ambrogio Maestri|
|Un Contadino||Gexan Etxabe|
|Basque National Orcuestra|
|Coro de Ópera de Bilbao||Chorus Master Boris Dujin|
|Director||Joan Anton Rechi|
|Director repository||Albert Estany|
|Production||ABAO Bilbao Opera|
|*Debuting at ABAO Bilbao Opera|
The action takes place in a small village in Sicily. At dawn on Easter Sunday Turiddu sings in the distance about his love for Lola, to whom he was engaged before going to do military service. When he returned he found that she had married the carter Alfio. He then seduced Santuzza, but now he has abandoned her and has retaken his relationship with Lola. That morning, a distraught Santuzza goes to see Mamma Lucia, Turiddu’s mother, who tells her that her son is away, buying wine. But Santuzza knows that Turiddu was seen during the night in the village. Alfio arrives with a group of men, boasting of his horses and of Lola. He asks Mamma Lucia if she has any good wine. When she tells him that Turiddu has gone to buy more, Alfio replies that he saw him near his house that same morning. Lucia seems to be surprised, but Santuzza asks her not to say anything.
When the villagers go in procession to church, Santuzza stays behind and pours out her grief about Turiddu’s behaviour to Mamma Lucia. The woman expresses her compassion and then leaves for Mass. Turiddu arrives at the square. When Santuzza confronts him about his affair with Lola, he denies her accusations. Just then, Lola passes by on her way to church. She mocks Santuzza and Turiddu turns to follow her. Santuzza begs him to stay and implores him not to abandon her, but Turiddu refuses to listen and leaves, after which Santuzza curses him. Alfio appears. He is late for Mass. Santuzza tells him that Lola has gone to church with Turiddu and reveals that she has been cheating on him. In a rage, Alfio says he will have to pay for it and rushes off, leaving the now conscience-stricken Santuzza behind.
Returning from church, the villagers gather at Mamma Lucia’s tavern. Turiddu starts a toast but the atmosphere becomes tense when Alfio appears. He refuses to accept Turiddu’s offer of wine and challenges him to a knife fight. Turiddu admits his guilt but is determined to fight with him, for Santuzza’s sake as well as for his honour. The two men agree to meet outside the village. Alone with his mother, Turiddu begs her to take care of Santuzza in case he doesn’t come back, asks her to bless him and leaves to fight with Alfio. Santuzza comes looking for Turiddu and both women fear a tragedy they foreshadow to be imminent. The square fills with villagers and suddenly a woman’s cry is heard: “Turiddu has been killed!”
In a short Prologue, Tonio, dressed in the clothes he will wear later on in Act II, introduces himself to the public while the curtain is down to announce that resorting to masks in the show which is about to start is something the author has wanted, as a tribute to theatrical traditions. The story the audience is going to see is authentic and the actors and actresses are men and women with real passions and sorrows, the same as any other person.
The action takes place in Calabria, in Montalto, in midsummer. It is three o’clock in the afternoon and a travelling theatrical company comes to the village. It is made up of Canio, the clown, his wife Nedda, Tonio and Beppe. Tonio, who has a physical deformity, is in love with Nedda, but when he tries to reveal his feelings to her, she mocks him. Furious and wanting revenge, Tonio reveals that Nedda is having an affair with Silvio, a villager, who asks her to run away with him that night. Tonio, who has returned and overheard the end of their conversation, alerts Canio, but Silvio manages to slip away without being recognized. Canio violently threatens Nedda, but she refuses to reveal her lover’s name. Beppe, another member of the troupe, tries to restrain Canio, whereas Tonio advises him to wait until that evening’s performance to catch the culprit. Alone, Canio gives in to despair: he must play the clown in spite of having a broken heart.
That evening the villagers gather to watch the performance, including Silvio. Beppe plays Harlequin, who serenades Columbine, played by Nedda. He dismisses his buffoonish servant Taddeo, played by Tonio, and over dinner the two sweethearts plan to poison Pagliaccio, Columbine’s husband, played by Canio. When Pagliaccio unexpectedly appears, Harlequin slips away. Taddeo maliciously assures Pagliaccio that his wife is innocent, which ignites Canio’s jealousy. Forgetting his role and the play they are performing, he demands that Nedda tell him the name of her lover. She tries to continue with the performance and the audience is enthralled by the realism and veracity of the show. Canio, in a fit of rage, stabs Nedda and then Silvio, who has rushed to her aid. Turning to the horrified crowd, Tonio announces that the comedy is over.