Pagliacci is an opera in two acts and a prologue by the Italian composer Ruggiero Leoncavallo, who himself wrote the libretto . Pagliacci translates as clowns or buffoons. The first performance was on 21 may 1892 in Milan. The opera lasts approximately one hour and is now often performed with another short opera, usually the one-act opera Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni.


[hide]*1 Characters


The characters in this opera are part of a touring theatre group that pieces in the tradition of the Commedia dell'Arte staging.

  • Canio, leader of the theatre group (in the second Act: Pagliaccio, the clown) (tenor)
  • Nedda, his wife (in the second Act: Columbina) (soprano)
  • Tonio (in the second Act: Taddeo) (baritone)
  • Beppe (in the second Act: Arlecchino, the Harlequin) (tenor)
  • Silvio, a young farmer (baritone)
  • farmers


Read warning: text below contains details about the content and/or the end of the story.

Place: near Mont alto in Calabria, 15 August 1865 (assumption of the Virgin)


Tonio welcomes the public and puts out a reason wondering about the differences and the similarities between theatre and reality. On behalf of the composer he is preparing the public for a piece with a particularly high degree of reality.

First act[Edit]Edit

Canio and his theatre group arrive in Mont alto, where they will play a lot. The players are invited to have a drink in the local pub, but Tonio refuses, because he still should take care of the donkey. Meanwhile, teasing the citizens Canio with it, that Tonio rather stick to Canio's wife Nedda remained. Canio Kindle in anger and States that he is unlike the play infidelity with death will avenge.

Nedda, which her husband not faithful is, is very afraid of these words. Despite this, she points his advances, but Tonio makes him off. If he still insists, she saves him with a whip. Tonio drips off and swears revenge. Later, her real lover Silvio, with whom they want to flee. Tonio, who has seen everything, but this comes too late, warns Canio and Nedda affects only. While Canio threatens her with a knife, he demands of her the name of her beloved. At the end of the day, Beppe intervened.

The theatre players are going to change for the performance, and Canio, who hopes that its competitor in the audience will be,Ridi, pagliaccio(despairingly is; Laugh then, buffoon)

Second act[Edit]Edit

Nedda and Silvio secretly warns the int entréegelden that her husband has come behind. The performance begins: by her husband Pagliaccio (Canio) only left behind, wait Columbina (Nedda) on her lover Arlecchino (Beppe). However, at home, and unexpectedly comes Pagliaccio Columbina takes hurried farewell to Arlecchino. He once again as Canio this belongs, Kindle in anger, and the separation between the play and reality fades. He asks Nedda again to the name of her beloved. In the meantime, the spectators the thrive, and applaud them for the realistic game.

Only when Canio stabs Nedda with his knife, the audience realizes the severity of the case. Then, however, it is already too late. Also Silvio, whose last name over the lips of the dying Nedda came, is stabbed to death by Canio. He is grabbed by the audience and sings La commedia è finita finally (the comedy is drawing to a close).


The structure of the opera is based on the Greek tragedy. For example, there is the prologue in which one of the actors (Tonio) directly to the audience and the story comes sketches as well as what the spectator can expect. Involving the public in this way gets extra carrying capacity when it appears that the opera itself deals with a theatre group that performs for her audience. The climax of the story is achieved when the main character (Canio) no longer know the difference between fiction and reality and Tonio's prologue gives the viewer thus a hint of Canio's psychological state.

The opera has a short period of time (about an hour) but is nevertheless classified in two acts. The first Act shows the main characters in the everyday life where the second Act shows them within the context of a souped-up by their stage performance. For the Viewer this split reinforces the feeling of the confusion between fiction and reality.

The veristische character of the opera is undeniably present: love, infidelity, hate, jealousy and finally revenge. But these feelings are partly true and partly acted. The last words of the opera let the viewer room for interpretation. "La commedia è finita!", the comedy is over. He turns to the audience, to his wife who he has just murdered or he still goes on in the theatre to be able to separate without fiction and reality?

Noted Arias[Edit]Edit

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