Elijah Moshinsky (detail) View full image

Moshinsky and Rizzi celebrate WNO's 70th with its beloved Cav and Pag

It is certainly an exercise in nostalgia when Welsh National Opera decides for its 70th birthday to present Elijah Moshinsky's Felliniesque 20 year old production, created for its 50th birthday. 'Cav and Pag' has always been the beating heart of WNO. 70 years ago when the company was created in the Prince of Wales Theatre, Cardiff, Welsh National Opera mounted its first production of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci with an all amateur cast; apart from Covent Garden and Sadler's Wells' principal tenor, Tudor Davies, a Welshman who sang Canio.

So warm was the theatre on opening night that you could almost smell pine resin and orange blossom in Cavalleria rusticana. Conducting from memory, Carlo Rizzi emphasised the contrasts between Mascagni's soft-focus orchestral portrait of rural Sicily on Easter morning and the savage, short breathed phrases with which his characters address each other.