Pagliacci Pizza & Seattle Opera: Leoncavallo’s Smash Hit Comes to the Stage

Pagliacci Seattle Opera
Pagliacci Seattle Opera

Sometimes it feels like destiny. To celebrate our 45th Anniversary, we wanted to do something splashy. But what? And then Seattle Opera announced they’d be opening the 2024/25 season this August with a production of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, the classic Italian opera and the origin of our name.  

Asked where the company name came from, Pagliacci Pizza founder Dorene Centioli-McTigue said, “It was the opera. My family is really big on opera. We have a cousin who was an opera singer. We just thought, what more buffoonery than to open a pizza place.” In Italian, Pagliacci means clowns. “[The name] sounded good,” Dorene continued. “We liked the idea of what buffoonery. And we figured we could do a lot with it.” 

So here we are. Forty-five years and 25 stores later. Millions of pizzas and satisfied customers later. And our namesake opera, Pagliacci, will be performed on the big stage by Seattle Opera. The production runs from August 3 – 17.  

A Special Anniversary Pizza Box 

In honor of the opera, we created a new 17-inch pizza box featuring original art by Ames Bros, the legendary Seattle-based graphic design firm with global reach. The box depicts Sasquatch trying to play the clown. Coby Shultz, one half of the dynamic duo behind Ames Bros wrote, “It’s been impossible to work on this and not belly laugh. The thought of Squatch being forced to perform and stuffed into an uncomfortable clown suit. He has stage fright and is really doing his best up there on the big stage.”  

We hope you love the design as much as we do. The box also features a QR code. Scan the code to purchase tickets to the opera and save 20% with the code PIZZA20. 

The Story Behind Pagliacci 

Pagliacci, the opera, premiered in Milan on May 21, 1892, with the conductor Arturo Toscanini on the podium. It was an instant smash. The first record to sell one-million copies was famed tenor Enrico Caruso’s 1902 recording of “Vesti la giubba” from the opera. Before the success of Pagliacci, Leoncavallo had endured years as a poor artist in Cairo and Paris. Facing betrayal by a music publisher, he composed Pagliacci for a rival publisher, creating one of opera's greatest hits and earning more from this single work than Giuseppe Verdi did from his entire oeuvre. 

Based on a true event, the opera tells the story of a Commedia dell’arte troupe that arrives in a small Italian village to cheers of welcome. Makeup and costumes transform actors from commoners into clowns, but the infidelity of one wife and the fury of her husband cannot be concealed. Comedy turns to tragedy when jealousy rages, lovers are revealed, and the curtain comes down on murder.  

Seattle Opera’s production is set in 1930s Italy and their visually arresting production features artful sets and traditional commedia dell’arte costumes.  

Don't forget to scan the QR code on our boxes for discounted tickets. See you at the opera! 

Publish Date: June 13, 2024