By Emily Sorensen
The sounds of arias will fill the air at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts, thanks to the opera “Cavalleria Rusticana,” performing two shows only, 3 p.m. Sunday, June 16 and Sunday, June 30 at the PCPA, 15498 Espola Road.
The opera, put on by Pacific Lyric Association, is a “verismo” or realistic opera, which tells the story of love, cheating and betrayal in a 19th century Italian village. “Cavalleria Rusticana is based on real events in the 19th century,” said artistic director Carlos Oliva, who also plays the role of Alfio in the opera.
“Cavalleria Rusticana” revolves around the lives of simple village folk as they celebrate the holy day festivities in their Sicilian village on Easter Sunday, and the betrayal and desire for revenge that follows the discovery of a number of affairs.
Though the opera’s music, which Oliva describes as “outstanding,” is in Italian, audiences shouldn’t have any trouble following the story thanks to an unusual technique Pacific Lyric Association is using. Rather than have the audience rely on supertitles, which are translated lyrics projected above the stage, which may distract the audience as they try to listen and read at the same time, two actors will give a narrative before each scene, describing what will be happening. “We did this last year, with “Carmen,” and it was very successful,” said Oliva. The narrative not only explains what is happening, but gives context to why it is happening.
The opera is very accessible to audiences at an hour and a half long. “It’s short, very easy to understand, and it’s some of the best music ever written,” said Oliva.
“Cavalleria Rusticana” stars Oliva’s wife Teresa Hughes-Oliva as Santuzza, and tenor Mario Rios as her lover, Turiddu, as well as Jennylyn Chung as Lola and Carrie Landsgaard as Mamma Lucia. Acting as both his wife’s costar and director was occasionally awkward, said Oliva. “I demanded excellence [from her], because I know what she can do,” said Oliva, who has been married to Teresa Hughes-Oliva for 40 years. “Overall though, we’re having a wonderful time [working together].”
Tickets for “Cavalleria Rusticana” range from $19 - $24 and are available by calling the box office at 858-748-0505, or online at