The first two offerings in Opera North’s Little Greats season of short opera double bills could scarcely be more contrasting.
Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (usually paired with that other classic of Italian Realism Cavalleria rusticana) is stuffed full of grand arias and emotional duets.
Charles Edwards directs a gripping production and conductor Tobias Ringborg draws powerful performances from principals Peter Auty as the murderous husband, Elin Pritchard as his faithless wife and Richard Burkhard and Phillip Rhodes as the architects of their downfall.
Ravel’s L’enfant, on the other hand, is a modernist fairy-tale in which a naughty child (Wallis Giunta) gets his come-uppance from the animals, trees and even crockery and furniture he wantonly damages.
Director Anabel Arden and her designers offer a bright and funny interpretation and conductor Martin Andre makes the most of an inventive score.
The excellent Opera North orchestra and chorus are major contributors to both, and if you are new to opera these short pieces (there are four more later this autumn) are good places to start.