New Production



Experience opera through a different lens – in an all-encompassing spectacular that puts you right in the middle of the action. This Summer, visionary director Bill Bankes-Jones marshals a company of nearly 200, including The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, a cast of international soloists and a professional and community chorus, in this blood and guts tale of love and jealousy.

‘The combination of a national company and a broad cross section of a local community coming together to tell such a gripping story through opera is unprecedented. It will be like nothing you have ever seen before.'

Bill Bankes-Jones

Staged festival-style in a huge tented structure – dubbed ‘Paisley Opera House’ – this dynamic promenade production has all the fun of the fair, taking inspiration from commedia dell’arte and Paisley’s own Sma’ Shot Festival, countered with the dark violence of the gripping story. Leoncavallo’s music is packed with energy, pulsing with passion and a showpiece for principals, chorus and orchestra alike. The outstanding cast includes Ronald Samm, famous for his Otello at Opera North in 2013; ex-Samling Scholar Anna Patalong; Robert Hayward (Bluebeard’s Castle 2017); Samuel Dale Johnson (The Marriage of Figaro 2016); and leading Scottish character tenor Alasdair Elliott.

Running time approx. 1 hour 40 mins

Sung in English


Sponsored by Scottish Opera Endowment Trust, Hugh Fraser Foundation, W M Mann Foundation, Backstage Trust, Steve Green (Studio Principal, Glasgow Studio, Charcoalblue) and Glasgow Airport FlightPath Fund

With special thanks to: The Events Team at Renfrewshire Council and Renfrewshire Leisure, ADA Scotland, Mr & Mrs Craig and Mr & Mrs Hannah for providing the games, Donors of clothing and accessories, Mike Rowan (Stilts Consultant), Nicole Vasey, Paisley Opera, Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (Paisley), Royal & Derngate Northampton

Cast & Creative Team

Ronald Samm

Anna Patalong

Robert Hayward

Samuel Dale Johnson

Alasdair Elliott

Stuart Stratford

Bill Bankes-Jones

Set & Costume Designer
Tim Meacock

Lighting Designer
Robert B. Dickson

Movement Director
Alex McCabe

Bill Bankes-Jones


The Prologue announces that everything that follows is a real story about real people.

As the Festival draws to a close, villagers greet a troupe of travelling players. The troupe’s leader, Canio, tells the crowd that a new show will be performed an hour before sunset. Tonio goes to help Nedda, Canio’s wife, but Canio pushes him away. A villager suggests that Tonio might be interested in Nedda. Canio replies that if that were true there'd be hell to pay.

Alone, Nedda worries about her husband’s jealousy. Tonio appears and declares his love. Nedda mocks him. When he tries to kiss her, she lashes out and he leaves, muttering revenge.

Silvio, a villager, begs Nedda to run away with him that evening. She agrees. But Tonio overhears the lovers and tells Canio. Silvio escapes as Canio arrives. Canio demands the name of her lover from Nedda. She will not say. Tonio and Beppe, another player, restrain Canio. Tonio assures him that Nedda’s lover will give himself away at the play.

Canio prepares for the performance. As a clown he must make people laugh, even though inside his heart is breaking.

The audience arrives. Nedda warns Silvio to be careful.

The Commedia begins. Columbina (Nedda) is waiting for her lover, Arlecchino (Beppe) while her husband Pagliaccio (Canio) is away. Taddeo (Tonio) arrives, makes love to Columbina, but is interrupted by Arlecchino and thrown out. The lovers are together only briefly, as Pagliaccio returns unexpectedly. Arlecchino escapes, but Columbina cries after him, ‘I'll be yours for tonight and evermore.' These are precisely the words that Canio heard Nedda say to her unseen lover earlier.

Canio now demands the name of his wife’s lover. Nedda tries to stay in character but Canio becomes increasingly angry. The audience applaud what they believe to be Canio’s intense performance. Nedda tries to continue. Canio grabs a knife and stabs her. Silvio rushes to help Nedda. Canio stabs him too.

Standing over the lifeless bodies, The Prologue declares that, ‘The comedy is over.’ 


Where will the performance take place? 

Pagliacci will be performed in a temporary tented-structure of operatic proportions at Seedhill Sports Ground, Seedhill Road, Paisley PA1 1QR

How do I get there?

What can I expect from a promenade performance?

Pagliacci will be a fully immersive experience; you will be free to move around the space following the action from scene to scene. 

Will there be seating?

No, as it is a promenade performance you can expect to be standing and walking for the duration of the performance. However, if you feel that you are unable to stand for the performance there is a very limited number of seating available on request at the time of booking. It's not possible to bring your own seating. 

What should I wear? 

Of course you can wear whatever you like to any of our performances but as Pagliacci will be staged in a tent outdoors we would encourage you to dress for the weather. You will be standing/walking on grass during the performance so comfortable footwear us a must. 

When should I arrive?

Doors will be open an hour before the performance starts. There will be a whole programme of pre-show entertainment to enjoy so don't be late to the party!

How long will the performance last?

The performance will last approx. 1hr 40min. However we encourage you to arrive early as doors open 1hr before the performance begins as there will be pre-show entertainment to enjoy.

Will there be food and drink available?

 Yes, there will be a fully licensed bar and a food van selling hot snacks and ice-cream. Food and drink will be available to purchase before, during and after the performance. 

Will you be accepting card payments?

Yes, you can pay for food and drink with card. There will be a box office on the door which will also accept card payments. 

 if you have any further questions please get in touch with us on pagliacci@scottishopera.org.uk