Pagliacci @ McCaw Hall

Put on a smile 🎭

📸: Seattle Opera

📆 Saturday, August 3rd – Saturday, August 17th
📍 McCaw Hall: 321 Mercer St, Seattle
🎟 Tickets start at $35

It’s no secret that clowns get a bad rap. But what exactly is it about them that pushes them over into uncanny valley territory? Maybe it’s because you don’t know what emotions lie behind the eyes of the person underneath that veneer of stage makeup. Maybe that goofy smile really is innocuous. Or maybe it masks deep sadness. Or unbridled jealousy and rage?

This idea is explored in Ruggero Leoncavallo’s classic opera, Pagliacci. If you haven’t heard of it, you’d probably at least recognize the famous, heart-wrenching aria Vesti la giubba—it’s been referenced plenty in pop culture. Seattle Opera’s version, however, is set to present a more nuanced interpretation of the story, viewing its main character, Canio, through a more critical lens and taking a deeper look at how society helps perpetuate cycles of domestic violence.

The original plot follows a traveling troupe of theater performers who’ve just arrived in a new town in Italy. The drama persists offstage in this troupe, unfortunately, with infidelity, secrets and lies running rampant, and finally, in a fit of violence, lead performer Canio, murders both his wife and her lover during a show, much to the audience’s horror—who had all thus far thought the theatrics were all part of the play.

This production directed by Dan Wallace Miller takes place in Italy in the aftermath of World War II and explores how individuals navigate that instability. Strap in and prepare for some high drama.

Seattle Opera serves the people of the Pacific Northwest through music, storytelling, and programs for people of all ages.

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