Leoncavallo is best known for I Pagliacci, and like Mascagni, was often condemned as a one-opera composer. As OHP audiences now know from our exploration of Mascagni’s repertoire, this was, and remains a grossly unfair judgement.

Lyrical, sumptuous and poignant, the opera follows the life of Parisian music hall singer, Zazà: her career, her eccentric friends and her passionate love affair with Milio Dufresne, an acquaintance to whom she grows hopelessly and devotedly attached. At least, until Zazà discovers that he is not only married with a child, but unwilling to give up his comfortable family life: the scene between Zazà and Milio’s child is extremely moving.

With its lush orchestration, evocative dance styles, infectious rhythms, Leoncavallo’s music bursts with colour. A rarity not to be missed.