Tag Archives: 1980s

A View from the Bridge

Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci are rarely – if ever – done together. The most common pairing for Pagliacci is Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, another tragic love triangle of sorts. This season, LA Opera has forgone tradition by staging two gigantic productions together in its season opening double bill. It’s a marriage of comedy and tragedy and a posthumous reconciling for two composers, who fought against each other so fervently, after Puccini premiered La Bohéme (Leoncavallo also completed a version of the Bohéme story).

It’s also a huge undertaking set-wise.

Crew member lowering Pagliacci set platforms

Crew member lowering the Pagliacci set platform

From their view in the house, audience members are not privy to the pure magic that goes on behind the curtain, while they are in the midst of intermission. But with a view from the bridge, it’s possible to see both the production and the set-up.

The bridge is a platform walkway, connecting our second-floor backstage area with lighting equipment. Before you ask, this seat is not open to the public, but it does provide an interesting view of what it takes to stage a sizeable double bill, such as Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci. Once the curtain falls on the 50-minute Gianni Schicchi, it’s the stage crew’s time to shine. Over the course of the next 30 minutes, Schicchi’s gigantic, 1940s-inspired Florence set is removed and a 1980s-inspired bohemian Pagliacci set takes its place.

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Pagliacci: Iconic Productions Day 10

“The first time I did Pagliacci, at the Royal Opera House in London, I did it as it had normally been done, turn-of-the-century. Also, at the Met, I did it that way. But then in the early ‘80s, I brought it much closer to us. I set it in the same environment, Southern Italy, but in the early 1940s. That’s the version that Plácido [Domingo] and Teresa Stratas did around the world and also on video and laser disc. But then I thought, why stop in the middle of the road? Let’s do it today.” – Director Franco Zeffirelli on staging his Pagliacci in the present day (then 1996)

Pagliacci, 1996-1997

Plácido Domingo as Canio in Pagliacci (1996); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

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#LAO30Images Iconic Productions Day 2: Tristan und Isolde

David Hockney’s 1987 Tristan und Isolde came out of a newly formed company looking to innovate and connect with the Los Angeles community. It was an LA affair with bold, wildly colored sets (designed in Hockney’s Hollywood Hills studio), a west coast born and bred cast, including stunning soprano, Jeannine Altmeyer, and Zubin Mehta vibrantly conducting the LA Philharmonic in the pit.

William Johns as Tristan and Jeannine Altmeyer as Isolde in Tristan und Isolde; Photo Credit: Frederic Ohringer

William Johns as Tristan and Jeannine Altmeyer as Isolde in Tristan und Isolde; Photo Credit: Frederic Ohringer

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