The current Los Angeles Opera production of Pagliacci is surprisingly good, especially when one considers the opera company is a mere 20 years old. Franco Zeffirelli brought the staging into the 20th century, the set was urban, the costumes were fit for a disco, but there was also a roller blader, so a bit of a mix. There were a bunch of acrobats, a person on stilts, a live donkey, drag queens, and confetti.
Tenor Roberto Alagna seemed somewhat hesitant at first as Canio. His voice is light with a slightly reedy nasality. But his voice came through for Recitar...Vesti la giubba at the end of Act I, and he sang well in Act II. Soprano Angela Gheorghiu also has a fresh light voice without much heft, but still has sufficient volume. She also is extremely attractive, and thus quite believable as Nedda.
Baritone Mariusz Kwiecien held his own as Silvio, this part is to be sung by Rodney Gilfry in the last two performances this season, but for now Gilfry is only singing in The Grand Duchess. Kwiecien was very good in La Bohème at San Francisco Opera a few seasons ago, and this time around I was impressed by how warm and rich his voice is compared to the two leads. On the other hand, though baritone Alberto Mastromarino acted well in the part of Tonio, he lacked control and was off key at times.
The choreography and costumes both came off well. The most lovely costume was Columbina's, a frothy pink skirt with black polka dots and swallows paired with a tight high-collared black blouse with pink-sequined trim.
The patrons of LA opera are terribly noisy, whispering a great deal, and applauding at every little thing. After the Act II overture there was so much clapping that the conductor had the orchestra rise to be acknowledged further. The opera also started with the Star-Spangled Banner, for Patriot Day, one imagines, but this was not stated.