On Saturday, February 11, there will be a historic Metropolitan Opera broadcast not heard since it was aired live in 1970: Leonard Bernstein leading Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, part of a double bill with Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, in a celebrated production by Franco Zeffirelli. This special broadcast is timed to mark the centenary of Zeffirelli’s birth.
Leonard Bernstein’s appearances at the Met were rare. In this broadcast of Cavalleria Rusticana, the legendary conductor leads a cast starring Grace Bumbry in her first Met run as Santuzza, and Franco Corelli in his only Met broadcast as Turiddu. Fausto Cleva conducts the performance of Pagliacci, which stars Richard Tucker in his first Met broadcast as Canio, opposite Teresa Stratas as Nedda.
From the 1960s through the 1990s, Franco Zeffirelli created twelve productions for the Met. Two of them – La Bohème and Turandot – remain audience favorites to this day. His production of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci premiered in January 1970, a month before this broadcast, with Bernstein and Cleva conducting. Listeners can hear this treasure from Met radio history, “Celebratig Franco Zeffirelli,” as our Saturday broadcast at 1 p.m. ET on February 11 right here on WBJC!