Personalities | Pietro Mascagni | Late Romantic | Classical

(Pe-a’-tro Mas-kan’-ye) 1863–1945
Italian composer

The son of a baker, Mascagni studied law before becoming a conductor and piano teacher. In 1890, while a conductor in Cerignola, he shot into the limelight with his prize-winning one-act opera Cavalleria rusticana which, at its legendary premiere at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome, received an unprecedented 60 curtain calls. Based on Giovanni Verga’s story of love and jealousy in a Sicilian village, Cavalleria symbolized the new verismo movement in Italian opera, characteristically lyrical yet also highly passionate, capable of portraying powerful complex emotions. The style continued in Mascagni’s dozen or so less well-known operas including Iris (1898), L’amico Fritz (1905) and Nerone (1935), as well as Pagliacci by Leoncavallo, often given as a companion piece to Cavalleria, and the operas of Puccini.

Recommended Recording:
Cavalleria rusticana, La Scala Chorus and Orchestra (cond) Herbert von Karajan (Deutsche Grammophon)

Introduction | Late Romantic | Classical
Personalities | Jules Massenet | Late Romantic | Classical


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