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El Paso Opera to stage “Pagliacci” in an unusal venue

Leora Zeitlin

One of the world’s most beloved operas, “Pagliacci,” presents a play within a play (or, more properly, an opera within an opera) that tells a story of love, infidelity, jealousy and revenge that blurs the line between art and life. El Paso Opera is presenting two performances this month at St. Rogers Depot, the 1903 downtown building that has been redesigned as an entertainment space. Arianne Marcee, executive director of El Paso Opera, said “we’re creating an opera pop-up theatre inside the venue space,” presenting “a traditional opera […] in a very untraditional way.”

Marcee came to KRWG to speak with Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin, and said Ruggero Leoncavallo’s famous opera – which has only two acts and a small cast of five – is perfect for a more intimate environment, and that the performers and chorus members will sometimes wind right through the audience. And, she said, the opera’s story is relevant. “It’s just such a timely topic, especially with the reckoning that the entertainment industry is having with the #MeToo movement, and with having powerful men have such control over the women who don’t have it. You see that playing out on stage in something that was written over a century ago, and you realize it is still applicable to what’s happening today.”

Performances are January 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Rogers Depot. Listen below to the full interview for more about this treasured opera, the venue, the performers, and another El Paso Opera initiative this year – “First Fridays,” when musicians perform every month in non-traditional venues, including the airport, a VA hospital, and more.

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