With the release of Zazà, we mark our first recording venture into the musical world of Leoncavallo and the operatic tradition of verismo. Maurizio Benini – Opera Rara’s Associate Conductor – leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Ermonela Jaho in her recording debut as the eponymous Zazà. Jaho is joined by Riccardo Massi as her lover Milio; Stephen Gaertner as her onstage partner and former lover Cascart; and Patricia Bardon as her mother Anaide. Written in 1900 for the Teatro Lirico di Milano and conducted at its première by Toscanini, Zazà was Leoncavallo’s most popular opera after Pagliacci. In the 20 years following its première, Zazà received over 50 new productions in opera houses around the world and became the chosen showcase for famous sopranos such as Rosina Storchio, who created the role, and Geraldine Farrar. With its infectious dance tunes and colourful orchestration making use of French popular music styles which Leoncavallo would have encountered in the capital, the verismo of Zazà is a far cry from the harsh, low-life realism of Pagliacci. Yet, where the composer’s first opera remains one of the most performed operatic works today, Zazà has all but fallen out of the repertory. Opera Rara’s revival of Zazà is based on Leoncavallo’s own 1919 revision of his score which has been carefully researched by Maurizio Benini.