Music by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Libretto by the composer
First performed: 1892
Tony, a comic, tells us that what we are about to see is real. The comedians arrive to perform a show and are greeted by an enthusiastic crowd. Nelly – the leading commedienne – fears the jealousy of her husband Kenny, the leading comic. She is revolted by the harassment of the second comic, Tony. She meets her lover Woody, the stage carpenter. Woody persuades her to leave the theatre and escape with him after the show that night. Tony spies on Nelly and Woody, and alerts Kenny to their relationship. Kenny rounds upon Nelly furiously. He reflects on how he must make his public laugh while inwardly despairing. An excited audience arrives for the show and the comedy begins. When Kenny arrives on stage he is unable to separate his life from the play in which he performing...
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