Boston Lyric Opera's

Cavalleria Rusticana Opens Season October 1

By: - Sep 08, 2021

Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) opens its new season October 1 @ 7:30 PM and October 3 @ 3 PM with the company’s first production of “Cavalleria Rusticana,” composer Pietro Mascagni’s one-act verismo tale of love, betrayal and death in a small Sicilian village.  In a change from its previously announced plans, and to ensure the safest possible performances for audience members, artists, staff and backstage workers, BLO’s “Cavalleria” will open at the Leader Bank Pavilion in Boston's Seaport District. The Pavilion's open-air structure allows BLO to produce large-scale live performances, with full live orchestra and chorus; the venue’s larger capacity means BLO will have two performances instead of the previously announced four.

BLO Music Director and Conductor David Angus will lead BLO’s Orchestra and Chorus. Giselle Ty, who served as Assistant Director on BLO's 2016 production of "Werther," returns as stage director, replacing previously announced stage director Sarna Lapine.

In reflecting on BLO’s return to full performances, Acting Stanford Calderwood General and Artistic Director Bradley Vernatter saluted not only the resilience of the company’s artists, staff, board and supporters, but also a shared belief in the power of music and storytelling. “We’re aiming to make ‘Cavalleria’ a thrilling return to live opera with full musical forces,” Vernatter says. “The work required to pull off a production of this scale is monumental; it requires an accomplished team and a supportive community. I’ve been proud that BLO has kept artists employed through our digital projects and Street Stage performances during the roughest days of the pandemic.  But it’s especially rewarding to provide so many opportunities for artists and production personnel to join us for our first full-length opera, with a complete orchestra and chorus for a live audience, since the pandemic began."

Vernatter also announced the company will implement COVID safety protocols that align with other area performing arts organizations returning this fall and its own Health Task Force for

Opera Artists, the high-profile panel of health-care professionals formed last year to provide medical knowledge and protocol guidance. BLO patrons attending “Cavalleria” at the Leader Bank Pavilion are required to show either proof of full vaccination, a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance, or an antigen test taken within the previous 24 hours. Face masks are required for all patrons except when eating and drinking.


The full cast for BLO’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” includes:

  • Soprano Michelle Johnson, known for a powerful voice and commanding dramatic presence -- and an alumna of New England Conservatory and the Boston University (BU) Opera Institute -- will sing the role of Santuzza;
  • Tenor Adam Diegel, who has received international critical acclaim for his powerful performance of Cavaradossi in Tosca at Glimmerglass Opera, will sing Turiddu.  
  • Mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen, a singer equally at home on opera and symphonic stages who has performed world premieres at Houston Grand Opera and Seattle Opera, and a Boston University graduate with a Bachelor’s in violin performance and a Master’s in Music (Opera), returns to Boston to sings Lucia;
  • Chilean-American baritone Javier Arrey holds a Congressional Medal of Honor from the Chilean government both for his career and his work bringing opera to people without access to live performances. A veteran of opera productions and concerts alike, Arrey performs here as Alfio; and

Grammy-nominated soprano Chelsea Basler, who has enjoyed a strong relationship with the company since debuting as an Emerging Artist in 2014 most recently voiced the ethereal Madeline in BLO’s production of “The Fall of the House of Usher” for BLO’s groundbreaking streaming service earlier this year, sings Lola

With a score by Pietro Mascagni, and a libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, “Cavalleria Rusticana” tells a story of four lovers that centers on a returning soldier who finds his fiancée has married a different man. “Cavalleria” is loved for its passionate story and classic score, whose swooning “Intermezzo” will be familiar to audiences, having been heard on numerous cinematic soundtracks.

Young soldier Turiddu learns upon his return home that his betrothed, Lola, has married another man while he was away.  Seeking revenge, he seduces Santuzza, who suspects him of having an affair with Lola when he disappears after their time together. She in turn takes her own revenge, telling Lola’s husband Alfio that his wife had been unfaithful with Turiddu. Seeing his rage, Santuzza immediately regrets the revelation. But it’s too late; Alfio challenges Turiddu to a duel and Turiddu accepts, asking his mother Lucia to care for Santuzza if he should not return. The unsurprising news of Turiddu’s death nevertheless shakes his mother, his once-betrothed, and his lover to their cores. They respectively weep, collapse in the arms of others, and faint away.

“Cavalleria” will be sung in Italian, with English surtitles. The approximate run time of this performance is 70 minutes, with no intermission.


Boston Lyric Opera’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” will be performed Fri., Oct. 1 @ 7:30 pm and Sun., Oct. 3 @ 3 pm at the Leader Bank Pavilion, 290 Northern Avenue in Boston’s Seaport District.

Individual tickets range from $10 to $180 plus fees, and will be available Fri., Sep. 10 at

Information about “Cavalleria Rusticana,” next spring’s “Champion: An Opera in Jazz,” access to a new digital production of “Svadba” this winter, and all streaming content on BLO’s, is available at