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Pagliacci” by Ruggero Leoncavallo libretto (English)

Contents: Roles / Prologue; Act One; Act Two
Roles / Prologue

Canio, head of the troupe (Role in Commedia: Pagliaccio) - tenor
Nedda, Canio's wife, in love with Silvio (Colombina, Pagliaccio's wife, in love with Arlecchino) - soprano
Tonio, the fool (Taddeo) - baritone
Beppe, actor (Arlecchino, Colombina's lover) - tenor
Silvio, Nedda's lover - baritone
Chorus of villagers

Place: Calabria, near Montalto, on the Feast of the Assumption
Time: between 1865 and 1870.


(Tonio appears through the curtain, dressed as Taddeo
in the style of the commedia dell’arte.)

Please? Will you allow me?
Ladies! Gentlemen! Excuse me
if I appear thus alone. I am the Prologue.
Since our author is reviving on our stage
the masks of ancient comedy,
he wishes to restore for you, in part,
the old stage customs, and once more
he sends me to you.
But not, as in the past, to reassure you,
saying, “The tears we shed are false,
so do not be alarmed by our agonies
or violence!” No! No!
Our author has endeavoured, rather,
to paint for you a slice of life,
his only maxim being that the artist
is a man, and he must write
for men. Truth is his inspiration.
Deep-embedded memories stirred one day
within his heart, and with real tears
he wrote, and marked the time with sighs!
Now, then, you will see men love
as in real life they love, and you will see
true hatred and its bitter fruit. And you will hear

shouts both of rage and grief, and cynical laughter.
Mark well, therefore, our souls,
rather than the poor players’ garb
we wear, for we are men
of flesh and bone, like you, breathing
the same air of this orphan world.
This, then, is our design. Now give heed
to its unfolding.
(shouting towards the stage)
On with the show! Begin!

Contents: Roles / Prologue; Act One; Act Two


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