Who needs singers? Pappano does verismo

Who needs singers? Pappano does verismo


norman lebrecht

May 17, 2020

Remember the jokes about ‘conductor’s voice?’ Forget them.

This is the ROH music director’s take on Pagliacci.


  • Beinisch says:

    Bravo Toni.

  • fred says:

    the correct name of the opera is not I pagliacci but simple ‘Pagliacci’

  • caranome says:

    Absolutely great: educational, enjoyable, explained in just right proportion of musical terms and laymen language without snootiness or condescension. He should do more of these.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    What a talented man. Love him!

  • wasteland says:

    Strip away the trappings, and the emotional absurdity of opera becomes so apparent. The genre is about 100 years over due for compositions revealing major innovations. Unfortunately, the opera world is so hidebound and ossified it can’t move forward.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      All literature, theatre, film, and opera is inherently absurd. But in their absurdity they speak truth. We can’t hear these truths any other way.

  • Heather Glerum says:

    Mr Pappano – Firstly, bravo! Now just a thought about the emotion behind Cannio’s repeated “ridi, ridi” … I feel his self loathing in that word. He feels as if he’s just and only a clown to the world, as well as to the woman he loves, and he hates himself for it. Ridi is the word as knife.

  • Shalom Rackovsky says:

    And he can really conduct! [I know because I heard him live..] And (most amazingly) he grew up in Bridgeport!

    • Player says:

      You didn’t hear him, you heard the orchestra.

      • Bernd says:

        Sure, just like you didn’t hear Pavarotti, you heard his vocal chords.

        • Player says:

          Do you really think that all of the musicians in an orchestra are merely the conductor’s instrument? Like we’re mute and inanimate until someone brings us to life? An orchestra is actually filled with people—sentient, intelligent, motivated beings. And we’ve worked very hard to get where we are. Conductors don’t work harder than we do, and they’re no smarter; they just decided somewhere along the way that they were better suited to telling others how to play, instead of working on an instrument. The orchestra is not an instrument; it’s made up of individuals, earnestly playing their parts with others, regardless of who’s standing on the podium.

          • Dermot says:

            I think an orchestra is only as good as its conductor. Put me – an ordinary amateur musician – and Tony Pappano in front of the same brilliant ROH orchestra and you would notice the difference. You`d boo me out of the pit in no time.

  • jay says:

    He is quite good but also underlines why the art form
    is as dead as dead can be.

  • Perplexed says:

    I’m still trying to figure why you pay so much attention to this guy.

  • Gavilon says:

    Actually, when Canio sings “tu sei Pagliaccio” it is the horrifying realization that the character that he’s performed for years in town after town is actually the story of his life. He IS the cuckolded husband.

  • This was absolutely wonderful. He goes right to the heart of the matter, with the passion that he displays in his conducting pouring through all through the video in his demonstration.

  • Barbara says:

    This was wonderful. Thank you.