Clowning around with ‘Pagliacci’ at the Coney Sideshow

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Send in the clowns.

Mercury Opera presents a Coney Island-inspired production of “Pagliacci,” Ruggero Leoncavallo’s tragic opera about a jealous husband in a commedia dell’arte troupe.

Coney Island USA’s Museum and Circus Sideshow will host the opera on Sept. 1, and couldn’t be a better suited location for this unique opera experience.

“The opera’s about traveling players, a troupe of clowns. With the element of that carnival atmosphere, that seems very fitting,” said Darcia Parada, artistic director of Mercury Opera, an Edmonton, Canada-based company that specializes in staging operas in non-traditional settings (last summer, they performed “Il Tabarro” on the Edmonton Queen riverboat).

Leoncavallo’s popular two-act opera follows Canio, the leader of a commedia dell’arte troupe in southern Italy, who, after finding out his wife is having an affair, acts out his rage on stage during a performance to disastrous results.

The production wasn’t without its own drama. “Pagliacci” was initially slated to run in a tent on an empty lot on W. 15th Street near the Boardwalk for five nights next week, but a lack of funding forced Parada to scratch her plans. Then, her original Canio dropped out a week before the show, forcing her to scramble for a replacement at the last minute.

But, as they say, the show must go on.

“Pagliacci” at the Coney Island USA Museum and Circus Sideshow [1208 Surf Ave. at W. 12th Street in Coney Island, (718) 372-5159], Sept. 1 at 8 pm. Tickets $55. For info, visit

Updated 5:57 pm, August 26, 2010
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