Saturday, November 8, 2014

AHS Makes Clowns More Terrifying Than Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci"

John Carroll Lynch plays the murderous kidnapping 
clown in American Horror Story: Freak Show
"American Horror Story: Freak Show caps off centuries of suspicion towards Bozo & co. 'You know, Dave,' Chicago children's entertainer Pogo reportedly said over dinner with two cops who'd been tailing him, 'clowns can get away with murder.' Pogo would know, because outside of his clown identity he was John Wayne Gacy, the notorious 1970s serial killer and maybe one of the worst things to happen to clowns since the 1892 opera Pagliacci. Clowns, it's fair to say, are not currently having the best time of it, PR-wise. The fourth season of American Horror Story, which debuted Wednesday, features Twisty the Clown as the primary antagonist: a terrifying perversion of the profession with a mask of grinning, oversized teeth and distorted black lips. In the opening episode, Twisty bounds up to a young couple in broad daylight, knocks them both out with juggling clubs, stabs the young man over and over again, kidnaps the woman and locks her up with a young boy in a decrepit old school bus, and forces them both to watch him craft balloon animals (there being clearly no limits to his malevolence).
Even a dandy can turn into an evil clown with the right 
accessories: Finn Wittrock stars as the twisted Mr. Mott
In addition to this new incarnation of the monstrous, murdering clown trope, rogue scary clowns have been spotted recently stalking the streets of Wasco, California. In July, a 'creepy' clown wearing a red wig and clutching a handful of pink balloons was sighted walking through Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. The professional clown industry, for once, isn't smiling. Membership of the World Clown Association, a U.S.-based trade group for performers, has fallen from 3,500 to 2,500 over the last 10 years. In the UK, a similar group, Clown International, has lost almost 90 percent of its members from its peak in the 1980s. Earlier this year, Butlin's holiday camp, in the popular destination of Bognor Regis, withdrew its annual offer to sponsor the group's annual gathering thanks to a decline in overall clown approval ratings....Despite all this, clowns were typically viewed in a positive light for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, even though Leoncavallo's aforementioned 1892 opera, Pagliacci, told the story of a clown who murders his unfaithful wife and her lover with a knife. ('Se il viso è pallido, è di vergogna,' the clown sings, or, 'If my face is white, it is for shame.') The turning point, culture-wise, appears to have been the arrest of Gacy, dubbed "the Killer Clown" by the media, whose grisly string of sexual assaults and murders contrasted so vividly with his alternate clown persona. As Pogo, Gacy
Tears of a Clown: Plácido Domingo as
Canio in the opera Pagliacci
performed at parades, parties, and charitable events, even meeting First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1978 thanks to his role as director of Chicago's Polish Constitution Day Parade. While on death row, he painted a number of portraits of clowns, many depicting himself as Pogo, claiming that he wanted to use the paintings 'to bring joy into people's lives.'" [Source] After the jump, find portraits of over 100 tenors who have sung the role of Canio over the last century and watch tenor Jonas Kaufmann record the famous aria "Vesti la giubba" from Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. An interesting article from 2008 showing how often popular media use the famous aria in advertising can be read here. Most recently Wendy's referenced it in their new "99¢ Right Size Menu" campaign. Watch the video below:


César Vezzani

José Cura

Jose Luccioni

Allan Glassman

Amadeo Bassi



André Ferrier

Antonello Palombi

Assis Pacheco

Beniamino Gigli

Beno Blachut

Bradley Daley

Carlo Bergonzi

Carlo Guichandut

Daniel Sutin

David Rendall

Dimiter Uzonow

Edmond Rambaud

Edward Johnson

Emil Marinescu


Enrico Caruso

Eric Audouin

Erik Enderlein

Ermanno Mauro

Ernesto Rodriguez

Eugène Regnier

Fabio Sartori

Fernand Ansseau

Fernand Ansseau

Fernando de Lucia

Francesco Battaglia

Francesco Fazzini

Francesco Signorini

Franco Corelli

Franz Volker

Fritz Windgassen

Gé Korsten

Giacomo Lauri-Volpi

Gilbert Py

Giovanni Breviario

Giovanni Consiglio

Giovanni Martinelli

Giuseppe di Stefano

Giuseppe Gaudenzi

Giuseppe Giacomini

Gregory Carroll

Gustavo Lopez Manzitti

Helge Roswange

Herman Malamood

James McCracken

Jay Hunter Morris

Jean Arnold

Johan Botha

Johannes Sembach

Jon Vickers

José Carreras

Josef Mann

Joseph Schmidt

José Lens

Jussi Björling

Karel Burian

Lauri Volpi

Lauritz Melchior

Leo Slezak

Luciano Pavarotti

Marcelo Álvarez

Mario del Monaco

Mario Lanza

Mario Ortica

Max Hirzel

Michael Robert Hendrick

Miguel Fleta

Mihai Muntean

Modest Menzinsky

Otakar Marak

Paul Althouse

Pedro Mirassou

Philip Mondinos

Ramon Vinay

Raoul Jobin

Ricardo Ledesma

Riccardo Martin

Richard Kubla

Richard Leech

Richard Margison

Richard Tucker

Roberto Alagna

Roy Cornelius Smith

Salvatore Licitra

Salvatore Puma

Sydney Rayner

Théo Beets

Thomas Salignac

Timo Calio

Tony Ponchet

Ulysses Lappas

Umberto Sorrentino

Vasili Damaev

Vladimir Atlantov

Vladimir Galouzine

Yusif Eyvazov


If you feel like there are some missing Canio performers, check here for more tenors!

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