We had plenty of time as we slow-walked to the Boston Lyric Opera’s new venue, on the waterfront this time, at the Leader Bank’s Pavilion (for two performances on October 1 and 3 as part of its “Street Stage” performance at outside venues), a huge tent just a couple minutes’ walk from the Silver Line’s “Silver Way” stop — third from South Station. Grey skies and seagulls…
Who knew that not only would the venue be so accessible, but also the theme of Mascagni’s late 19th century opera, “Cavalleria Rusticana,” set in a Sicilian Village, on Easter Sunday — morning to be exact — so resonate with our own times — at least to this auditor.
At the opera’s opening, Turiddu, sung by Adam Diegal, has just returned from military service, a return which already sounds both familiar and ominous.
Turiddu is singing, lyrically, of his ardent love for Lola, which love sounds to the uninformed ear, sweet and portending only happiness. Until we learn that Lola, tiring of her engagement to Turiddu, while he serves his time, has married the village carter, Alfio.
So now, Turiddu is singing to the fact that he has not only seduced a country girl, Santuzza, in revenge for Lola’s desertion, but also has taken up again with his original love, Lola, despite the fact that she is now married, church married, to a simple carter — think a UPS guy: hard-working, known and liked by all his customers.
Turiddu’s voice, sung by Adam Diegal, is gorgeous, full-throated, hearty and masculine — to say nothing of testosterone-fueled, head-strong and deeply naive.
Besides all these advantages, is the class issue that Turiddu’s mother, Mama Lucia, pilots the village winery, second only to the church as a place to gather and celebrate; whereas Turiddu’s now rival, Alfio, has only a horse and cart, plus day after day of braving the cold and rain of a Sicilian winter as well as the torrid heat of summer and the determination all that fosters to back his exclusive claim to his wife Lola.
Santuzza, as a woman scorned, used by Turiddu as a mere dart to prick his straying love Lola’s pride, has a voice, sung by Michelle Johnson, both full-throated and honeyed, but with a sting — a beautiful, not-to-be-denied sting.
You might wonder, dear audience, who are these country hicks to play so blissfully, so ignorantly fast and loose with human love and loyalty, that even the powerful Mama Lucia is as unable to pick up the very many body pieces scattered over her village, as say an Afghani or Iraqui medic after a car bomb, or ourselves after a violent protest.
Every key and minor piece of this finely tuned and beautifully resurrected opera is so exquisite as to turn one’s mind away from the bold, blunt, totally un-beautiful headlines which harry us every day of our woeful era.
And yet, and yet, Mascagni’s opera is so stunningly prescient simply by dealing with the hearts and minds, in full song, which still walk today in an unnamed Sicilian village and — here?
Bravo! Boston Lyric Opera, again.
(Current plans are for the Boston Lyric Opera to return in Winter 2022 with an online streaming performance of “Svadba” featuring music by Ana Sokolović and an in—house performance of “Champion: An Opera in Jazz” on May 18, 20 and 22 at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston. For more information, visit blo.org.)