Pietro Antonio Stefano Mascagni
7 December 1863
|Died||2 August 1945 81) (aged|
Pietro Mascagni(7 December 1863 – 2 August 1945) was an Italian composer primarily known for his operas. His 1890 masterpiece Cavalleria rusticana caused one of the greatest sensations in opera history and single-handedly ushered in the Verismo movement in Italian dramatic music. While it was often held that Mascagni, like Ruggero Leoncavallo, was a "one-opera man" who could never repeat his first success, L'amico Fritz and Iris have remained in the repertoire in Europe (especially Italy) since their premieres.
Mascagni wrote fifteen operas, an operetta, several orchestral and vocal works, and also songs and piano music. He enjoyed immense success during his lifetime, both as a composer and conductor of his own and other people's music and created a variety of styles in his operas.
Mascagni was born on 7 December 1863 in Livorno, Tuscany, the second son of Domenico and Emilia Mascagni. His father owned and operated a bakery. Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti ("Nanni") was born the same year in the same city and became Mascagni's lifelong friend and collaborator.
In 1876, at the age of 13, Mascagni began musical studies with Alfredo Soffredini, who founded the Instituto Musicale di Livorno (later called Istituto Cherubini). Soffredini had just completed his musical studies in Milan. Also a native of Livorno, Soffredini was a composer, teacher and musical critic. Mascagni started composing rapidly: between 1879 and 1880, he wrote several works: Sinfonia in do minore, Prima sinfonia in fa maggiore, Elegia, Kyrie, Gloria and Ave Maria.
The premiere of Mascagni's first cantata, In Filanda, took place at the Istituto Cherubini on 9 February 1881. Performed at a musical contest in Milan, the cantata won the first prize. In the same year Mascagni met the musicians Arrigo Boito and Amilcare Ponchielli in Milan.
In 1882, he composed his Cantata alla gioia from a text by Friedrich Schiller, followed by La stella di Garibaldi for voice and piano, and La tua stella. On 6 May Mascagni left Livorno for Milan. He passed the admission examination of the Milan Conservatory on 12 October. In Milan, Mascagni met the noted composer Giacomo Puccini.
On 9 January 1883, Mascagni's sister, Maria, died. The cantata In Filanda became Pinotta, and was proposed for the musical contest of the Conservatorio, but as his registration was late, it was not accepted.
In 1884, he composed Ballata for tenor and piano; M'ama non m'ama, scherzo for soprano and piano; Messagio d'amore, and Alla luna.
In 1885, Mascagni composed Il Re a Napoli in Cremona, a romance for tenor and orchestra, on a text by Andrea Maffei. He left Milan without completing his studies. That year, he began touring as a conductor in the operetta companies of Vittorio Forlì, Alfonso and Ciro Scognamiglio, and, in Genoa, the company of Luigi Arnaldo Vassallo.
Mascagni met the impresario Luigi Maresca in 1886 and started working with him. That December, Mascagni arrived in Cerignola with Maresca's company. He was accompanied by Argenide Marcellina Carbognani (Lina), his future wife. Helped by the mayor Giuseppe Cannone, Mascagni soon left the company of Maresca, though not without problems.
He was appointed as the master of music and singing of the new philharmonia of Cerignola. His reputation grew. He also gave piano lessons. In February 1888, he began work on the Messa di Gloria. In July, Casa Sonzogno announced in the Teatro Illustrato its second competition for a one-act opera. The following year, Mascagni completed his composition of Cavalleria rusticana on 27 May and sent the manuscript to Milan.
Mascagni married Lina Carbognani on 3 February 1889. The next day their first son, Domenico Mascagni ("Mimì"), was born. Their son Dino was born on 3 January 1891. A daughter, Emi, was born in 1892.
On 21 February 1890, Mascagni was summoned to Rome to present his opera. The première of Cavalleria rusticana, winner of the Sonzogno contest, was held 17 May at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. It had outstanding success, and the opera was soon performed in both the north and south of Italy: Florence, Turin, Bologna, Palermo, Milan, Genoa, Naples, Venice and Trieste.
In December, Gustav Mahler conducted the opera in Budapest. Soon thereafter, the cities of Munich, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Dresden and Buenos Aires welcomed the opera. In March 1891, it was sung in Vienna. At age 26, Mascagni had become internationally famous.
Mascagni premiered his L'amico Fritz , his second most successful opera, on 31 October 1891 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. I Rantzau was premiered on 10 November at the Teatro La Pergola, in Florence, under his personal direction.
The composer next completed Silvano (1894). On 16 February 1895 he premiered Guglielmo Ratcliff at the Teatro alla Scala of Milan. On 15 March Silvano was premiered at the same theatre. That year, Mascagni accepted the directorship of the Liceo Rossini in Pesaro and moved his family there.
On 2 March 1896, Mascagni conducted the première of Zanetto at the Liceo. He continued his composing and directing. On 29 June 1898 in Recanati, Mascagni conducted the première of his symphonic poem, A Giacomo Leopardi . Mascagni began a collaboration with Luigi Illica, a librettist. Their first work, Iris, was premiered on 22 November at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome.
Mascagni's father died in May 1899.
In 1900, Mascagni toured Moscow and St. Petersburg and, on 17 January 1901, Le maschere was premiered in six Italian theaters. Giuseppe Verdi died on 27 January and the following month Mascagni commemorated Verdi's passing. That same year, he conducted Verdi's Requiem in Vienna.
Mascagni composed the incidental music for Hall Caine's play, The Eternal City in August 1902; the première of the play with Mascagni's music took place in London on 2 October.
In 1902 and 1903, he toured in Canada and in the United States, (in particular Montreal, New York City, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco), where he conducted many of his and other composers' works. The tour was mostly a fiasco, except for the visit to San Francisco where Mascagni was extremely well received.
In 1903, Mascagni left Pesaro after problems with the authorities. He became director of the Scuola Musicale Romana, in Rome. In the same year he signed a contract with the French editor Paul de Choudens.
Amica, based on a poem by Choudens with French libretto by Paul Collin,was premiered on 16 March 1905, in Monte-Carlo. That year, he had disputes with Ruggero Leoncavallo and Giacomo Puccini. He also had the Livornese première of Le maschere.
Mascagni was director of the Costanzi for the season beginning in August 1909.
On 4 April 1910, Mascagni began a relationship with Anna Lolli. In October he was reconciled with Puccini.
Mascagni ceased his activity as director of the Scuola Musicale Romana in 1911. That May he left for Buenos Aires, beginning a seven-month tour in South America. The première of Isabeau took place in Buenos Aires on 2 June.
The Italian première of Isabeau was held simultaneously at La Scala in Milan (conductor Tullio Serafin) and at La Fenice in Venice (conductor Mascagni) in 1912. On 28 March, he began to work on Parisina in Bellevue, near Paris, sometimes with his daughter Emi, his mistress Anna Lolli, and the librettist Gabriele d'Annunzio.
Parisina was premiered in Milan on 15 December of that year. Almost all the important Italian composers of the time were present, among them Puccini, Umberto Giordano and Riccardo Zandonai. The new work was premiered in Livorno and Rome in 1914. On 28 July occurred the events that shortly led to World War I: Puccini and Mascagni were against the involvement of Italy in this war, in which Mascagni's son Dino was later made a prisoner.
In 1915 Mascagni wrote music for Nino Oxilia's movie Rapsodia Satanica ; the custom was for silent films to be accompanied live in a theater by organ, piano, or an orchestra, often using a prepared score (sometimes with original music) with cues for the conductor or musician. Mascagni had a quarrel regarding the rights of Louise de la Ramée's Two Little Wooden Shoes (I due Zoccoletti), that inspired both Puccini and Mascagni. The subject was retained by Mascagni for Lodoletta . The latter opera was premiered on 30 April 1917 in Rome. The Livornese première of the opera was on 28 July with Beniamino Gigli as Flammen.
Sì , Mascagni's operetta, which he had been manoeuvred into writing by the impresario Carlo Lombardo, was premiered on 13 December in Rome.
In 1920 Mascagni composed Il piccolo Marat , which was premiered in Rome on 2 May 1921, following by a premiere in Buenos Aires in September. The composer returned to South America for a tour beginning in May 1922.
In 1923, he composed Visione Lirica. Mascagni appeared on the cover of Time on 6 September 1926.
He moved to the Grand Hotel Plaza in Rome in 1927, a place he would not leave until his death.
In 1930, Mascagni conducted La bohème in Torre del Lago, as a homage to Puccini, who had died in 1924. In 1931, Le maschere was performed at La Scala.
Pinotta was premiered in San Remo on 23 March 1932. He joined the PNF (Fascist party), following the example of many contemporary musicians, including Giordano.
Nerone was premièred in Milan on 16 January 1935, followed by the première in Livorno on 24 August.
In June 1936, Mascagni's son Dino died in Somalia.
In 1940, celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary of his most popular opera, Cavalleria rusticana, took place all over Italy, often with Mascagni conducting. The opera was recorded for La Voce del padrone ("His Master's Voice") at La Scala under the direction of Mascagni, who recorded a special spoken introduction. EMI later reissued the recording on LP and CD.
In 1942, after an audience with Pope Pius XII, newspapers quoted Mascagni, a Roman Catholic, as saying that his tuberculosis-stricken niece was cured after receiving a rosary and silver medal blessed by the pope.
In April 1943, Mascagni appeared for the last time at La Scala to conduct L'amico Fritz. By that time he had to conduct sitting on a chair. The last season of Mascagni at the Rome Opera (Cavalleria rusticana and L'amico Fritz) was 1944–45.
Mascagni died on 2 August 1945 in his apartment at the Grand Hotel Plaza in Rome. The funeral ceremony was on 4 August. The Italian authorities were not present. In 1951, his body was transferred from Rome to Livorno, where Mascagni finally received an official homage. On 7 December 1963, the centenary of Mascagni's birth, a plaque was erected in Rome on the Albergo del Sole where Mascagni stayed during the premiere of Cavalleria rusticana.
During his long career, Mascagni contemplated writing many operas. The following is an incomplete list of such projects, which never saw the light of day:
The sound track of the 1980 film Raging Bull uses the Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana , the Barcarolle from Silvano , and the Intermezzo from Guglielmo Ratcliff (known as Il sogno di Ratcliff).
The 1990 film The Godfather Part III used a production of Cavalleria rusticana at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo as the setting for its climax, with Michael Corleone's son Anthony as Turiddu. The movie ends with the Intermezzo playing.
In opera, verismo was a post-Romantic operatic tradition associated with Italian composers such as Pietro Mascagni, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano, Francesco Cilea and Giacomo Puccini. Verismo as an operatic genre had its origins in an Italian literary movement of the same name. This was in turn related to the international literary movement of naturalism as practised by Émile Zola and others. Like naturalism, the verismo literary movement sought to portray the world with greater realism. In so doing, Italian verismo authors such as Giovanni Verga wrote about subject matter, such as the lives of the poor, that had not generally been seen as a fit subject for literature.
Hariclea Darclée was a celebrated Romanian operatic soprano who had a three-decade-long career.
Parisina is a tragedia lirica, or opera, in four acts by Pietro Mascagni. Gabriele D'Annunzio wrote the Italian libretto after Byron's poem Parisina of 1816.
Carmen Melis was an Italian operatic soprano who had a major international career during the first four decades of the 20th century. She was known, above all, as a verismo soprano, and was one of the most interesting singing actresses of the early 20th century. She made her debut in Novara in 1905 and her career rapidly developed in her native country over the next four years. From 1909 to 1916 she performed with important opera companies in the United States; after which she was busy performing at many of Europe's most important opera houses. From 1917 until her retirement from the stage in 1935 she was particularly active at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome and at La Scala in Milan. After her singing career ended, she embarked on a second career as a voice teacher. Her most notable student was soprano Renata Tebaldi.
Afro Poli was an Italian operatic baritone, particularly associated with the Italian repertory.
Leopoldo Mugnone was an Italian conductor, especially of opera, whose most famous work was done in the period 1890–1920, both in Europe and South America. He conducted various operatic premieres, and was also a composer of operas.
Emilio Venturini (1878–1952) was an Italian operatic lyric tenor known for his portrayal of character roles. He made his professional opera debut in 1900 in Italy where he remained for the next several years. In 1901 he sang the role of Brighella in Mascagni's Le maschere at the Teatro Regio in Turin. He made his La Scala debut in 1903 as Froh in Wagner's Das Rheingold and sang in the premiere of Umberto Giordano's Siberia. In 1904, he originated the role of Prince Yamadori in Puccini's Madama Butterfly at La Scala.
Lina Bruna Rasa was an Italian operatic soprano. She was particularly noted for her performances in the verismo repertoire and was a favourite of Pietro Mascagni who considered her the ideal Santuzza. Bruna Rasa created the roles of Atte in Mascagni's Nerone, Cecilia Sagredo in Franco Vittadini's La Sagredo and Saint Clare in Licinio Refice's 1926 oratorio, Trittico Francescano. She also sang the role of Tsaritsa Militrisa in the Italian premiere of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tale of Tsar Saltan.
Celestina Boninsegna was an Italian operatic soprano, known for her interpretations of the heroines in Verdi's operas. Although particularly eminent in Verdi's works, she sang a wide repertoire during her 25-year career, including Rosaura in the world premiere of Mascagni's Le maschere. Boninsegna made many recordings between 1904 and 1918, and her voice was one of the most successfully captured on disc during that period.
Emma Carelli was an Italian operatic soprano who was particularly associated with the dramatic soprano roles of the verismo repertoire and the works of Richard Wagner. After a singing career which lasted almost two decades, she managed the Teatro Costanzi in Rome for almost fifteen years. After studying with her father, Beniamino Carelli, at the Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella, she made her professional debut in 1895 in the title role of Mercadante's La vestale during the centenary celebrations at Altamura and went on to appear in the opera houses of many Italian cities. In 1898 she married the left-wing politician, self-made millionaire, and later impresario, Walter Mocchi.
Giuseppe Cremonini was an Italian operatic tenor who had a prominent opera career in Europe and the United States during the last decade of the nineteenth century.
Antonio Magini-Coletti was a leading Italian baritone who had a prolific career in Europe and the United States during the late 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. A versatile artist, he appeared in several opera world premieres but was particularly associated with the works of Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Wagner and the verismo composers. He was also an accomplished exponent of the bel canto repertoire.
Cavalleria rusticana is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni to an Italian libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, adapted from an 1880 short story of the same name and subsequent play by Giovanni Verga. Considered one of the classic verismo operas, it premiered on 17 May 1890 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. Since 1893, it has often been performed in a so-called Cav/Pag double-bill with Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo.
Franco Lo Giudice was an Italian tenor who had a successful international opera career during the first half of the 20th century. He was an important exponent of the works of Riccardo Zandonai, notably starring in the world premieres of his operas I cavalieri di Ekebù (1925) and Giuliano (1928). His voice is preserved on a number of recordings made with the HMV, Parlophone, and Pathé record labels. Music critic Alan Blyth described him as a "fiery, strong tenor" who "excelled in verismo parts".
Zanetto is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni to an Italian libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci. It received its first performance on 2 March 1896 at the Liceo Musicale Rossini in Pesaro. Only 40 minutes long and with cast of two singers, Zanetto was originally described by its composer as a scena lirica rather than an opera. It is set in the countryside near Florence during the Renaissance and tells the story of an encounter between a beautiful courtesan, Silvia, and a young wandering minstrel, Zanetto. The libretto was adapted from an Italian translation by Emilio Praga of François Coppée's play Le passant in which the young Sarah Bernhardt had won fame in the en travesti role of Zanetto.
Mala Pasqua! is an opera in three acts composed by Stanislao Gastaldon to a libretto by Giovanni Domenico Bartocci-Fontana. The libretto is based on Giovanni Verga's play, Cavalleria rusticana which Verga had adapted from his short story of the same name. Mala Pasqua! premiered on 9 April 1890 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome, six weeks before Pietro Mascagni's opera Cavalleria rusticana which was also based on Verga's play. Bartocci-Fontana's libretto adds some elements that were not in Verga's original and expands on others. The name of the Santuzza character was also changed to Carmela, but the basic plot and setting remain the same. Its title refers to the curse which Carmela places on Turiddu, the lover who had spurned her: "Mala Pasqua a te!". Following its Rome premiere, Mala Pasqua! had a few more performances in Perugia and Lisbon, but it was completely eclipsed by the phenomenal success of Mascagni's opera. After the 1891 Lisbon run it was not heard again until 2010 when it was given a semi-staged performance in Agrigento, Sicily.
This is a discography of Cavalleria rusticana, an opera by Pietro Mascagni. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 17 May 17, 1890. There have been over 100 full-length recordings of Cavalleria rusticana published since it was first recorded in Germany in 1909. Mascagni himself has conducted the opera in two recordings, the best-known of which is the 1940 EMI recording made to mark the 50th anniversary of the opera's premiere. The performance by the La Scala orchestra and chorus with Lina Bruna Rasa as Santuzza and Beniamino Gigli as Turiddu also has a spoken introduction by Mascagni. Originally released as an LP, it is available on CD under several historical recording labels, including Naxos.
Reno Andreini was an Italian operatic tenor who had an active international career from 1902–1924. A specialist in the Italian repertoire, he was frequently heard in the bel canto operas of Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini, and in the verismo operas of Leoncavallo, Mascagni, and Puccini. He was notably the first singer to make a complete recording of the role of Rodolfo in Puccini's La boheme in 1917. He also recorded duets from La traviata with Maria Galvany and one duet from Massenet's Manon with Riccardo Tegani with the Gramophone Company.
Stefano La Colla is an Italian tenor who has given recitals and performed in opera internationally.
Amelia Pinto (1876–1946) was an Italian operatic soprano who first performed at the Teatro Grande in Brescia in December 1899 in La Gioconda. She developed a particular liking for Wagner, excelling in Tristan and Isolda at La Scala. She is also remembered for her interpretation of Tosca, appreciated by Puccini himself.