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Pietro Mascagni

Pietro Mascagni

Cavalleria Rusticana  Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova  18-05-2012
Pietro Mascagni
Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova

Pietro Mascagni's life

Pietro Mascagni was born in Livorno, Tuscany, in 1863. His father owned a bakery. At the age of 13, Mascagni starts musical studies with Alfredo Soffredini, a composer, teacher and musical critic who founded the Istituto Musicale di Livorno, which was then called Istituto Cherubini. Mascagni's first composition is dated 1878, Duolo eterno!, followed by others like Elegia per soprano, violin and piano (1879), Ave Maria for soprano and piano (1880), Pater Noster for soprano and string quintet (1880), Sinfonia in fa maggiore (1881). The debut of Mascagni's first cantata, In Filanda, takes place at the Istituto Cherubini in 1881. He moves to Milan, passing the examination for the admission to the Conservatory where he meets Amilcare Ponchielli and Arrigo Boito. From 1883 to 1885, Mascagni composes many works but he leaves the conservatory without completing his studies.
When he meets the impresario Luigi Maresca in 1886, he starts working with him and his company but quits shortly after. He is appointed master of music and singing of the new Philharmonic of Cerignola making his reputation growing. In 1888, Casa Sonzogno announces its second competition for a one-act opera and Mascagni competes with Cavalleria rusticana. The opera wins the contest and he's called to Rome for the debut at Teatro Costanzi. It is an outstanding success and it is soon performed in many theatres in Italy, with Mascagni himself as a conductor.
In April 1943, Mascagni appeared for the last time at Teatro alla Scala to conduct L'amico Fritz, his second most successful opera which had premiered in 1891 in Rome. By that time he had to conduct sitting on a chair due to his weak physical conditions. Mascagni died on August 2, 1945 in Roma.

Mascagni's Operas

Cavalleria rusticana (1890), L'amico Fritz (1891), I Rantzau (1892), Guglielmo Ratcliff (1895), Silvano (1895), Zanetto (1896), Iris (1898),Le maschere (1901), Amica (1905), Isabeau (1911), Parisina (1913), Lodoletta (1917), Il piccolo Marat (1921), Pinotta (1932), Nerone (1935).


Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana

In 1890, Cavalleria rusticana bursted into the Italian musical scene with the power of a revolutionary rush, a break in the evolution of Italian opera at the end of the Nineteenth Century. It is the first opera by the then young composer from Livorno, Pietro Mascagni, one of the most remarkable artistic personality between the Eighteenth and the Nineteenth Centuries. Inspired by a tale by Verga, it opened up to Verism in music: a strong passion, a working-class setting and the whole reality of South of Italy, which was finally approaching the scenes of melodrama. It has a flowing melodic inventiveness, a spontaneous singing, always tending to high notes, spectacular chorus and remarkable symphonic pieces (Wagner had had his impact) like the popular page of the Intermezzo. An opera which made it to the repertoire without ever leaving, often combined to Pagliacci by Leoncavallo, the main diptych in musical opera Verism.
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