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Operatic match made in heaven

The great operatic marriage is that of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, above. Dubbed Cav and Pag, the two short works invariably are paired together. Premiered in 1890 and 1892, respectively, with librettos recounting illicit affairs, jealousy and murder, they launched the realistic movement in opera called verismo.

"They seem to be made for each other," said Anton Coppola, who is conducting the double bill for Opera Tampa this weekend. "Cav and Pag just go together. It's the same locale, practically, the same period, the same treatment of the elemental passions that these peasants express. It all just pours out in the music."

Cast members include Allison Charney, Paul Hartfield and Theodore Lambrinos. Movie note: It was Cavalleria Rusticana that Coppola conducted in his appearance in his nephew Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather III.

There are two performances of Cav and Pag, at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in Morsani Hall of Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Tickets: $24.50-$59.50. (813) 229-7827 or toll-free 1-800-955-1045 or www.tbpac.org.

_ JOHN FLEMING, Times performing arts critic

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