WESTFIELD, NJ — Illicit love is to be the common theme uniting two operas set to show together at the New Jersey Festival Orchestra’s next concert.

On Saturday, March 14, the orchestra will perform Wagner’s the first act of the drama Die Walküre and the “tragic pathos” of Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, the orchestra announced.

“They hold a commonality in the shockingly ‘peculiar’ love couplings which take place in both operas,” said New Jersey Festival Orchestra Music Director David Wroe in a release. “I think this might be the first time in history that they have been coupled together.”

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Die Walkurie, or The Valkyrie, was composed in 1870 and I Pagliacci, or Clowns, was written in 1892. Die Walkurie recounts the epic mythological story of the incestuous lovers Siegmund and Sieglinde, offspring of the god Wotan, the NJFO announcement said.

Audiences who had heard one of the operas, Wroe said, should prepare to also enjoy the other.

“Whereas I Pagliacci is more ‘popular,’ aficionados of Wagner have a particularly sophisticated taste, so they will also easily recognize, and enjoy, the genius in I Pagliacci,” Wroe said. “For those who came for I Pagliacci, be prepared to be converted to Wagner by our stage manager, Maria Todaro’s, extraordinary talent.”

I Pagliacci is “set in a period of myth-making cowboys, gunslingers and saloon madams,” Wroe said. The two operas will present audiences with a stark contrast in both scenery and voices, he said.

Die Walküre is set in a futuristic, apocalyptic ‘Mad Max’ world,” Wroe said. “I Pagliacci is set in the Wild West. … The operas call for different voice types, so it is not possible to share the cast. To the extent that Wagner's operas can be categorized, Die Walkurie is in the serious, grand and stately tradition; Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci is fast moving, in your face 'Verismo!'

In Die Walküre, Wagnerian dramatic soprano Amber Smoke sings the role of Sieglinde; while NY Metropolitan Opera’s Adam Herskowitz sings the role of Siegmund, twin brother of Sieglinde, and internationally acclaimed bass Steven Fredericks performs Hunding, Sieglinde’s brutish and sinister husband.

In Pagliacci, Marcelina Beucher is Nedda, Canio’s wife; tenor Jeremy Brauner sings the role of Canio, head of the troupe of artists and NY Metropolitan Opera tenor T.J. Capobianco sings the role of Beppe.

The operas will be sung in German and Italian with English subtitles.

If you go:

The performance will be Saturday, March 14, at 7 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield with a free pre-concert lecture by Michael Rosin at 6 p.m. Can’t make March 14? Opera’s Ultimate Odd Couple will also be presented on Sunday, March 15, at 3 p.m. at The Concert Hall at Drew University in Madison.

Tickets for both concerts ($30-$76, students under 21 $15) are available online at www.njfestivalorchestra.org. Tickets may also be purchased by calling the box office 908-232-9400.

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