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Sunday, June 08, 2008


Pagliacci is an opera about clowns such as I. It consists of a clever prologue, two acts, written and composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo. Ruggero composed his haunting music and penned his insightful libretto more than a century ago. I have seen his opus performed on two continents. Once, as a young man…and once as a wizened, embittered clown. Pagliacci will forever be one of my favorite operas. Vesti la Giubba ("Put on the costume") is that famous tenor aria sung at the conclusion of the first act, when Canio, despite his broken heart, must prepare for his performance as Pagliaccio, the clown, because (as we all know) the “show must go on.”

Laugh, Pagliaccio, so the crowd will cheer!
Turn your distress and tears into jest,
your pain and sobbing into a funny face - Ah!
Laugh, Pagliaccio, at your broken love!
Laugh at the grief that poisons your heart!

Oh, Paggliaccio! Mere mortal soul who loved too dearly and far too passionately! You are my blood brother, dear Paggliaccio. You turn your frown upside down. You laugh at your own grief. You mock your own misfortune; yet...all the while...we die...dear Paggliaccio...
we die, my friend...we and I.

* * *


Blogger Jay said...

I haven't seen Pagliacci, but the opera reminds me of Freddie Mercury. His last video was "These Are The Days Of Our Lives"

In it you can see he's thin and frail. But as you said, the show must go on.

Tue Jun 10, 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Just had to share...

One of my oldest and dearest friends, a remarkable human being, sent me a letter in response to my latest series of posts. "V" is a work of art, and he spake thus:

"Your last couple of posts brought to mind Lear on the heath, raging in the storm, with only the fool to keep him company. Let me be your fool for an instant...

Having been brought down to humble roots, there is something Lear-like in your anguish. You've lost a lot and paid your price for self-knowledge. But there is a world out there, which I have to remind myself from time to time...

I agree that I Pagliacci is a great operatic work, but this fixation with death...
someone has written a book on opera in that its main attraction is that it tells us how to die...tragically, nobly, stupidly, we have our choices, whether we are shot by firing squad, by self inflicted folly, by revenge, or as victims of some plot. (Oh yes, you have your choice: duels, poisons, hanging, execution, and stabbing, inter alia). I've always taken the view that opera's main subjects, love (sex) and death, are the two human drivers, that Freud made so much of because they are so important.

Remember that line from Voltaire, whose title character believed that this is the best of all possible worlds? Who in the end, loses his optimism, to return to his farm and to plow his fields in simplicity? I was reminded of the saying, “The optimist is the one who believes that this is the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist is the one who fears that this is certainly the case...”

As I said, I just had to share...

Tue Jun 10, 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Brenda Starr said...

I'm speechless. This is no easy feat, Jonas. Speechless by your latest posts and V's comments.

Wed Jun 11, 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Ah, Brenda, you are far too kind (although, as I said, V truly is a work of art).

Sun Jun 15, 12:20:00 AM  

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