Opera in Conversation: "Opera and Film: Fellini and Italian Neorealist Cinema" Takeaway

Oct 3, 2018

Don't miss this iconic production at Opera Omaha, Oct 19th and 21st! Tickets start at $19: https://ticketomaha.com/Productions/pagliacci

A big thank you to all who attended or spoke at the first Opera In Conversation! In case you missed it, here are some takeaways from “Opera and Film: Fellini and Italian Neorealist Cinema”:

Both verismo style opera (such as Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo) and Italian neorealist cinema (such as La Strada by Frederico Fellini) sought to bring to light marginalized lifestyles and people of society rather than those of kings, nobles, and the wealthy. This trend can also be traced in visual art and literature from Édouard Manet, Gustave Flaubert, and Émile Zola. These works toe the line between ugly reality and exaggeration.

Some characteristics of Italian neorealism were that young creators were railing against a nationalistic facade and moved towards mobile sets and non professional actors.

Opera was unifying for Italian culture, as we often forget how much regional diversity there was. Opera used to be something enjoyed outside of the theatre in small villages by way of brass bands playing opera suites and the songs being commonplace.

Meta-theatrics (the idea of there being theatre within the theatre and such) was not uncommon for Leoncavallo’s time. An example is the Italian play Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello.

Leoncavallo was fighting to get out from under Giuseppe Verdi’s shadow, as Verdi was a political and social star of his time in addition to being an immensely popular writer of opera. In this way, Pagliacci’s verismo style is most likely a strategic commercial choice.

La Strada inspired the visuals for our version of Pagliacci’s set, showing that influences are traded across film and other visual arts.

by Lillian Snortland
Opera Omaha Weitz Fellow

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