The clown

Ruggero Leoncavallo

1857-1919

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The old adage ‘the show must go on’ is thought to have originated in the circus world. If the lion tamer had a misfortunate encounter with one of his beasts and had to be carted off stage, the circus band would begin to play and the ringmaster would direct the attention to some place else and the show would go on.

And so it was for Canio the clown in Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci. Shortly after discovering his wife’s infidelity, Canio must dress for the next show. While seated before his mirror he sings “Vesti la guibba e la faccia infarina.”

“Put on your costume and apply makeup to your face.
The people pay, and they want to laugh.
Laugh, Pagiaccio, your love is broken!
Laugh of the pain, that poisons your heart.”

Sylvia's Violins | Pagliacci