CANCELLED: Pagliacci


Conducted by George Manahan
Directed by Garnett Bruce

CANCELLED: April 2, 2020

Due to our concerns about the spread of COVID-19, and the safety and well-being of our audience members, musicians, artists, and staff we have made the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of our 2019/20 season. As a result, Portland Opera has cancelled all performances of Pagliacci, as well as all other special events and programs related to the production. Please visit this page for more information and to access ticket cancellation options.

the enduring classic drama.

Based on a real story from a newspaper clipping in the late nineteenth century, Leoncavallo’s “Clowns” tells the story of a traveling troupe of entertainers who perform for an Italian village. They present a show that becomes increasingly parallel to their actual tumultuous lives—resulting in blurred lines between comedy, tragedy, reality, and performance.


Performed in Italian with English captions.
Approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes with one intermission.

This new-to-Portland production from New Orleans Opera is colorful and classic. Renowned Italian tenor Fabio Armiliato makes his Portland Opera debut, joined by soprano Vanessa Isiguen and baritones Will Liverman and Michael Chioldi.

Listen for the famous tenor aria “Vesti la giubba” (“Put on the costume”), and a cinematic score that is packed with vibrant and evocative music.


Looking for dining options, directions, or more information? Create your opera experience with the assistance of our Portland Opera Concierge: | 503-241-1407

Join us one hour before curtain for a discussion providing context and unique insights into the world of the opera. After the performance join company members and guests from the production, for a post-show conversation.

Tickets available from $35. View seating map for Keller Auditorium.


The performance of Pagliacci on June 7, 2019 at 2 PM will include an audio description of the visual and physical events on stage for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing, each performance is translated with English text projected above the stage. If you require wheelchair, ADA, or companion seating, please let our Patron Services team know when you purchase tickets, so that we can ensure your visit to the opera is an excellent one.


Fabio Armiliato

Vanessa Isiguen

Michael Chioldi

Will Liverman

George Manahan

Garnett Bruce

Set Designer
Constantinos Kritikos

Costume Designer
James Scott

Plot & Program Notes



Before the opera begins, Tonio the clown steps before the curtain to announce that the author has written a true story and that even actors and clowns have the same joys and sorrows as other people.


Villagers in a town in Calabria gather around a small theatrical company that has just arrived. Canio, the head of the troupe, describes the night’s offerings. When one of the villagers suggests that Tonio is secretly courting Canio’s wife, Nedda, Canio warns that he will tolerate no flirting off stage. Vesper bells call the women to church and the men to the tavern, leaving Nedda alone. Disturbed by her husband’s jealousy, she envies the freedom of the birds in flight. Tonio tries to force himself on her. She beats him back, and he swears revenge. In fact, Nedda does have a lover – Silvio, who appears and persuades her to run away with him after the evening’s performance. Tonio overhears this and hurries off to tell Canio. The jealous husband bursts in on the guilty pair, but Silvio runs away before Canio can identify him. Nedda, even when threatened with a knife, refuses to reveal the man’s name. Beppe, another clown, restrains Canio, and Tonio advises him to wait until the evening’s performance to catch Nedda’s lover. Alone, Canio bitterly reflects that he must play the clown while his heart is breaking.



The villagers, including Silvio, assemble to see the commedia dell’arte performance. In the play, Harlequin serenades Columbina (played by Nedda) and dismisses her buffoonish servant Taddeo (played by Tonio). The two lovers dine together and plot to poison Columbina’s husband Pagliaccio (played by Canio), who soon arrives. Harlequin slips away. With pointed malice, Taddeo assures Pagliaccio of his wife’s innocence, which ignites Canio’s jealousy. Forgetting the play, he demands Nedda tell him the name of her lover. She tries to continue with the play, the audience enthralled by its realism. Enraged, Canio stabs Nedda and Silvio, who rushes to help her. Tonio announces to the horrified villagers that the comedy is ended.

Reprinted courtesy of Opera News.