Donald Macleod examines Mascagni's political attitudes, from his sympathy with the socialist cause in the early 1920s to his relationship with Mussolini as fascism took hold of Italy
Composer of the Week marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Pietro Mascagni, who triumphed in his early twenties with his opera Cavalleria Rusticana and, during his lifetime, was one of the most famous figures in Italy. He came to prominence just as Verdi was entering old age and Italy was searching for a new maestro. Mascagni's good looks and charm ensured that his fame spread worldwide. He continued to write operas although none achieved the success of his early hit. Towards the end of his life, he found himself marginalised from new currents in Italian music and having to associate himself with Mussolini's fascist regime.
Mascagni found himself in an impossible situation in 1920s Italy, struggling to accommodate himself with the opposed political forces battling it out. He had shown solidarity with striking workers in his native Livorno during the years of revolutionary ferment following the First World War, so was initially labelled as a Bolshevik by the Fascist regime in power from 1922. He missed Italy too much to live in exile and, on his return, was forced to express support for Mussolini if he wanted to resume life there. Donald Macleod looks at how Mascagni became associated with the regime and the works he wrote during this turbulent period.
Angel Rodriguez (tenor); Fausta Cianti (piano)
Lodoletta (excerpt Act 1)
Jolán Sánta, mezzo-soprano (La Vanard); Maria Spacagna, soprano (Lodoletta); Károly Szilágyi, baritone (Giannotto); Péter Kelen, tenor (Flammen); Hungarian Radio and Television Chorus; Hungarian State Orchestra; Charles Rosekrans (conductor)
Il piccolo Marat (excerpt Act 1)
Frédéric Vassar, bass (President/ Ogre); Susan Neves, soprano (Mariella); Daniel Galvez-Vallejo, tenor (Il Piccolo Marat);
The Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra; The Netherlands Radio Choir; Kees Bakels (conductor)
Canto del lavoro
La Scala Orchestra; Pietro Mascagni (conductor)
Rapsodia satanica (excerpt)
The Londerzeel Youth Symphonic Orchestra; Peter Himpe (conductor).