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.