I Pagliacci
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jeff Thomas

Once again Cinnabar Theater, in Petaluma, offers live opera in an intimate setting with its current productions of I Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo and The Telephone by Gian Carlo Menotti. No need to bring your opera glasses to these performances. Every seat in the house is a good one and even some cabaret seating is available which is close enough for you to feel like one of the performers.

The orchestra, conducted by Nina Shuman and the creative spacing of the performers literally surrounds you with beautiful sounds that play the heartstrings of your emotions. I Pagliacci, though disguised as a comedy, is actually a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, including a play within a play. But unlike Hamletís interior production, staged to reveal the truth about the King in the audience, I Pagliacciís play within the play reveals the subtle psychology of Canio (Kevin Courtemanche), the star of the production.

Canio is the head of a troupe of actors and clowns. His beautiful wife Nedda (Erina Newkirk) is having a secret love affair. When Canio finds out about it, he tries to suppress his outrage at this betrayal so that the troupeís performance wonít be affected. But the story in the show so closely resembles his real life that it drives him to the dark side of his nature and ironically ends the comic performance in tragedy.

The Telephone, on the other hand, is pure comedy, the story of a woman (Erina Newkirk) and the man (Todd Donovan) who loves her. There are many laughs to be had as the man tries to propose marriage while the woman is constantly interrupting him to take several phone calls.

Both productions are excellent and performed in English. An added treat is a chorus of young singers and thespians from Cinnabarís Young Rep program. For tickets or more information call (707) 763-8920 or visit www.cinnabartheater.org.

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