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We Have a Maestro

Donald Macleod focuses on Mascagni's sensational overnight rise to fame with the premiere of his opera Cavalleria Rusticana.

Donald Macleod looks at Mascagni's sensational overnight rise to fame with the premiere of his opera Cavalleria Rusticana

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's one-act masterpiece, Cavalleria Rusticana had an extraordinary reception when it was premiered in Rome, in 1890. Fresh, taut, and naturalistic, it became the iconic work of verismo, and catapulted its composer to glory. But it was a tough act to follow. Donald Macleod looks at the night that Italian operatic history was made and the aftermath for Mascagni.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Pietro Mascagni

    M'ama non m'ama

    Singer: Anastasia Tomaszewska-Shepis.. Performer: Fausta Cianti..
    • Bongiovanni: GB 2235-2,.
    • 11.
  • Pietro Mascagni

    Cavalleria Rusticana

    Singer: Pablo Elvira. Singer: Plácido Domingo. Singer: Renata Scotto. Singer: Jean Kraft. Singer: Anne Simon. Orchestra: National Philharmonic Orchestra. Choir: Ambrosian Opera Chorus.. Conductor: James Levine.
    • RCA RD 83091,.
    • 19-21.
  • Pietro Mascagni

    Sera d'ottobre

    Singer: Anastasia Tomaszewska-Shepis.. Singer: Angel Rodriguez. Performer: Fausta Cianti..
    • Bongiovanni GB 2235-2,.
    • 16-17.
  • Pietro Mascagni

    Stornelli marini

    Singer: Anastasia Tomaszewska-Shepis.. Singer: Angel Rodriguez. Performer: Fausta Cianti..
    • Bongiovanni GB 2235-2,.
    • 16-17.
  • Pietro Mascagni

    La Luna

    Singer: Anastasia Tomaszewska-Shepis.. Singer: Angel Rodriguez. Performer: Fausta Cianti..
    • Bongiovanni GB 2235-2,.
    • 16-17.
  • Pietro Mascagni

    L Amico Fritz- Act 2 extract

    Singer: Angela Gheorghiu. Singer: Roberto Alagna. Singer: George Petean. Orchestra: Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin. Conductor: Alberto Veronesi.
    • DG 4778358,.
    • 14-18.
  • Pietro Mascagni

    Iris - Act 1 extract

    Orchestra: Munich Radio Orchestra.. Conductor: Giuseppe Patanè.
    • CBS M2K 45526,.
    • 1-3.

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