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NZ Opera: Cavalleria & Pagliacci A Major Undertaking

Cav & Pag – a major undertaking

Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (or Cav & Pag as they’re more commonly known) are short, one act operas, each lasting just over an hour. But for an opera company, they’re a major undertaking.

Both works require large choruses and orchestras and, being two different operas, two casts of principal soloists. Aidan Lang, General Director of The NBR New Zealand Opera which presents these works in Wellington (opening Sat 27 Aug) and Auckland (opening Thu 15 Sep), says that you don’t take these on lightly. “The artistic numbers are vast,” he says, “with 10 principal soloists in the combined operas, and between Auckland and Wellington, approximately 150 adult chorus, 20 children’s chorus, and 140 orchestral musicians. Those numbers can create a mighty volume of sound! And they do, and it’s magnificent!

“Our audiences are due a big, bold opera and Cav & Pag is exactly that. The drama is raw and hard-hitting and the highly charged music creates a massive impact on its audience. To that end, we’ve brought in singers who are at the top of their game and who will do justice to the works and the string of popular and much-loved hits that have arisen from these operas.”

Cavalleria rusticana features Peter Auty, established as one of Britain’s leading tenors, as Turiddu, with one of the world's foremost dramatic sopranos, Ukrainian Anna Shafajinskaia, singing Santuzza. Polish baritone Marcin Bronikowski, who returns following his stirring portrayal of Marcello in 2008’s La bohème, is Alfio (he also sings Silvio in Pagliacci), and two of New Zealand’s top young mezzo sopranos, Anna Pierard and Wendy Doyle sing the roles of Lola and Mamma Lucia respectively.

Pagliacci sees leading Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas take the role of Canio, while American Elizabeth Futral, one of the major coloratura sopranos in the world today, sings Nedda. After his star turn as goofy Taddeo in The Italian Girl in Algiers, highly regarded Australian baritone Warwick Fyfe returns for the gritty role of Tonio, and New Zealand tenor Andrew Glover returns from the UK to sing Beppe.

The Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus, Vector Wellington Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, under the baton of acclaimed Slovakian maestro Oliver von Dohnányi, complete the artistic line-up.

Bringing Cav & Pag to the stage are English director Mike Ashman and New Zealanders John Parker (set designer) and Elizabeth Whiting (costume designer) – who brought audiences the acclaimed 2006 production of Faust. “Expect this team to provide a similarly memorable production this time around,” adds Lang.


Wellington – St James Theatre

Sat 27 Aug & Thu 1, Sat 3 Sep – 7.30pm; Tue 30 Aug – 6pm

Auckland – Aotea Centre, THE EDGE

Thu 15, Sat 17, Wed 21, Fri 23 Sep – 7.30pm; Sun 25 Sep – 2.30pm

Tickets: $49.50 to $187.50. Concessions available for benefactors, senior citizens, students and group bookings. Service fees apply.

Bookings: The NBR NZ Opera Box Office, Tel (09) 379 4068 or (04) 499 8343, or:

Wellington: Ticketek, Tel 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 538) or

Auckland: The Edge, Tel 0800 BUYTICKETS (0800 289 842) or

The NBR New Zealand Opera receives core funding from Creative New Zealand

Further information:

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