Met’s new verismo double bill offers a static “Cav” and memorable “Pag”

April 15, 2015

By Eric Simpson

Of course, this would not be an excellent Pagliacci without excellent singing, and the leading couple rise to the challenge. Álvarez’s robust tenor conveys all the forceful passion of Canio with a ringing top that  allows him to give a nuanced, wrenching account of “Vesti la giubba.” His unfamiliar approach to “No, Pagliaccio non son” in the final scene, maintaining control until the last instant, made the crucial act of violence absolutely shattering—you don’t believe that he’s actually going to do it, and when the moment comes, its effect is traumatic.