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Subject: Age Appropriate Operas
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 30 Jan 2018 02:28:46 -0500
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On the discussion of some operas being inappropriate for young kids,  I'd kind of hesitate 
about "Pagliacci", which when staged and performed in the most extreme verismo fashion, 
can be a real shocker.  I speak from experience:  When I was teaching an opera class to 
high-school students before I retired, I showed a videotape of the Franco Zeffirelli film 
(starring Domingo and Stratas) and probably should have previewed it first.  The Tonio was 
pretty grotesque and slimy and some of Nedda's  stage actions were pretty suggestive.  If I 
remember correctly, Nedda slashes Tonio's face and draws blood.  The love duet between 
Nedda and Silvio pushed the envelope as far as it could go, and the finale was a real 
bloodbath.  Some of the students remarked that they didn't realize "that opera had this kind 
of stuff in it".  I was actually sorry that I had selected this particular opera to show, but it's 
brevity and action made it a good choice.  As it turned out, the students (high school 
sophomores) all loved it.  I, however, never showed this opera again (one of my colleagues 
thought that it was inappropriate - I did not).    Still, I definitely would not show "Pagliacci" 
to any kids who are under fifteen years old.  It can be pretty graphic and violent.

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