Ruggiero Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci was his first opera to be performed. The text, by the composer, is based on one of the cases encountered by Leoncavallo's father, a police magistrate in Naples. The actual case concerned a middle-aged actor who murdered his unfaithful wife. Leoncavallo sets his sordid subject matter to melodic material of high quality and great variety. The heart-rending aria 'Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto!' Laugh and be merry, though your love betrayed you), has become the most famous number from the opera.
This Schirmer edition of the Vocal Score is in Italian with an English version by Joseph Machlis.