In opera, verismo (Italian for '"realism"', from vero, meaning "true") 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.
A short story by Verga called Cavalleria rusticana for '"Rustic Chivalry"'), then developed into a play by the same author, became the source for what is usually considered to be the first verismo opera: Cavalleria rusticana by Mascagni, which premiered on 17 May 1890 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. Thus begun, the operatic genre of verismo produced a handful of notable works such as Pagliacci , which premiered at Teatro Dal Verme in Milan on 21 May 1892, and Puccini's Tosca (premiering at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900). The genre peaked in the early 1900s, and lingered into the 1920s.(Italian
In terms of subject matter, generally "[v]erismo operas focused not on gods, mythological figures, or kings and queens, but on the average contemporary man and woman and their problems, generally of a sexual, romantic, or violent nature."However, three of the small handful of verismo operas still performed today take historical subjects: Puccini's Tosca, Giordano's Andrea Chénier and Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur . In Opera After the Zero Hour: The Problem of Tradition and the Possibility of Renewal in Postwar West Germany, the music historian Emily Richmond Pollock writes that verismo’s musical language reflects an aesthetic that emphasizes “the power of moment-by-moment emotional expressiveness that requires harmonic and formal flexibility, muscular but relatively unornamented vocal lines, and a fully developed orchestration full of high-contrast timbres.” "Musically, verismo composers consciously strove for the integration of the opera's underlying drama with its music." These composers abandoned the "recitative and set-piece structure" of earlier Italian opera. Instead, the operas were "through-composed," with few breaks in a seamlessly integrated sung text. While verismo operas may contain arias that can be sung as stand-alone pieces, they are generally written to arise naturally from their dramatic surroundings, and their structure is variable, being based on text that usually does not follow a regular strophic format.
The most famous composers who created works in the verismo style were Giacomo Puccini, Pietro Mascagni, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano and Francesco Cilea. There were, however, many other veristi: Franco Alfano, Alfredo Catalani, Gustave Charpentier ( Louise ), Eugen d'Albert ( Tiefland ), Ignatz Waghalter (Der Teufelsweg and Jugend), Alberto Franchetti, Franco Leoni, Jules Massenet ( La Navarraise ), Licinio Refice, Spyridon Samaras, Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari ( I gioielli della Madonna ), and Riccardo Zandonai.
The term verismo can cause bewilderment. In addition to referring to operas written in a realistic style, the term may also be used more broadly to refer to the entire output of the composers of the giovane scuola ("young school"), the generation of composers who were active in Italy during the period that the verismo style was created.One author (Alan Mallach) has proposed the term "plebeian opera" to refer to operas that adhere to the contemporary and realistic subject matter for which the term verismo was originally coined. At the same time, Mallach questions the value of using a term such as verismo, which is supposedly descriptive of the subject and style of works, simply to identify an entire generation's music-dramatic output. For most of the composers associated with verismo, traditionally veristic subjects accounted for only some of their operas. For instance, Mascagni wrote a pastoral comedy ( L'amico Fritz ), a symbolist work set in Japan ( Iris ), and a couple of medieval romances ( Isabeau and Parisina ). These works are far from typical verismo subject matter, yet they are written in the same general musical style as his more quintessential veristic subjects. In addition, there is disagreement among musicologists as to which operas are verismo operas, and which are not. (Non-Italian operas are generally excluded). Giordano's Andrea Chénier , Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur , Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana , Leoncavallo's Pagliacci , and Puccini's Tosca and Il tabarro are operas to which the term verismo is applied with little or no dispute. The term is sometimes also applied to Puccini's Madama Butterfly and La fanciulla del West . Because only four verismo works not by Puccini continue to appear regularly on stage (the aforementioned Cavalleria rusticana, Pagliacci, Andrea Chénier and Adriana Lecouvreur), Puccini's contribution has had lasting significance to the genre.
Some authors have attempted to trace the origins of verismo opera to works that preceded Cavalleria rusticana, such as Georges Bizet's Carmen , or Giuseppe Verdi's La traviata .Modest Moussorgsky's Boris Godunov should not be ignored as an antecedent of verismo, especially because of Moussorgsky's focus on peasants, alongside princes and other aristocracy and church leaders, and his deliberate relating of the natural speech inflexions of the libretto to the rhythms of the sung music, different from, for example, Tchaikovsky's use of Pushkin's verse as a libretto.
The verismo opera style featured music that showed signs of more declamatory singing, in contrast to the traditional tenets of elegant, 19th century bel canto singing that had preceded the movement, which were purely based on markings in the written music of authors preceding this “era”. Opera singers adapted to the demands of the “new” style. The most extreme exponents of verismo vocalism sang habitually in a vociferous fashion, were focusing on the passionate aspect of music. They would 'beef up' the timbre of their voices, use greater amounts of vocal fold mass on their top notes, and often employ a conspicuous vibrato in order to accentuate the emotionalism of their ardent interpretations (this kind of proper “chiaroscuro” technique singing, which promised a great longevity of the voice, that a lot of preceding singers used up to this point in time).
Some prominent practitioners of verismo singing during the movement's Italian lifespan (1890 to circa 1930) include the sopranos Eugenia Burzio, Lina Bruna Rasa and Bianca Scacciati, the tenors Aureliano Pertile, Cesar Vezzani and Amadeo Bassi, and the baritones Mario Sammarco and Eugenio Giraldoni. Their method of singing can be sampled on numerous 78-rpm gramophone recordings.
Great early-20th century international operatic stars Enrico Caruso, Rosa Ponselle and Titta Ruffo developed vocal techniques which harmoniously managed to combine fundamental bel canto precepts with a more 'modern', straightforward mode of ripe-toned singing when delivering verismo music, and their example has influenced operatic performers down to this day (see Scott).
Giacomo Puccini was an Italian composer known primarily for his operas. Regarded as the greatest and most successful proponent of Italian opera after Verdi, he was descended from a long line of composers, stemming to the late-Baroque era. Though his early work was firmly rooted in traditional late-19th-century Romantic Italian opera he later developed his work in the realistic verismo style, of which he became one of the leading exponents.
Pietro Mascagni 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 Ruggiero 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 since their premieres.
Mario Del Monaco was an Italian operatic tenor.
Renata Scotto is an Italian soprano and opera director.
In music, an intermezzo, in the most general sense, is a composition which fits between other musical or dramatic entities, such as acts of a play or movements of a larger musical work. In music history, the term has had several different usages, which fit into two general categories: the opera intermezzo and the instrumental intermezzo.
Daniela Dessì was an Italian operatic soprano.
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.
Joan Pons Álvarez is a Spanish operatic baritone, known internationally as Juan Pons.
Fernando De Lucia was an Italian opera tenor and singing teacher who enjoyed an international career.
A spinto soprano is a type of operatic soprano voice that has the limpidity and easy high notes of a lyric soprano, yet can be "pushed" on to achieve dramatic climaxes without strain. This type of voice may possess a somewhat darker timbre, too, than the average lyric soprano. It generally uses squillo to "slice" through the sound of a full orchestra, rather than singing over the orchestra like a true dramatic soprano.
Matteo Manuguerra was a Tunisian-born French baritone, one of the leading Verdi baritones of the 1970s.
Aldo Protti was an Italian baritone opera singer, particularly associated with the Italian repertory. He was particularly appreciated in Verdi roles, especially Rigoletto, his greatest role, but also as Alfio, Tonio, Gérard, Scarpia, etc.
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.
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.
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.
Carlo Sabajno was an Italian conductor. From 1904 to 1932, he was the Gramophone Company's chief conductor and artistic director in Italy, responsible for some of the earliest full-length opera recordings, most of them with the orchestra of La Scala, Milan and prominent singers there. Particularly outstanding among these are his stately, authoritative late-1920s and early-1930s electrical recordings of Don Pasquale, Traviata, Aida, Otello and Bohème.
Alfredo Costa was an Italian operatic baritone who had an active international career from 1900 until his death in 1913 at the age of 39. He appeared in French and Italian language operas of the 19th century and early 20th century, performing throughout the Italian provinces, and in Brazil, Chile, France, Portugal, Ukraine, and the United States. His voice is preserved on recordings made for Pathé Records in 1908, and for Odeon Records and the Gath & Chaves department store in Buenos Aires.
Dimitri Platanias is a Greek baritone who has had an active international career since 2007, excelling particularly in the roles of Verdi and the Italian Verismo.
Regina Diaz is an opera in two acts composed by Umberto Giordano to a libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci. It premiered on 5 March 1894 at the Teatro Mercadante in Naples. The libretto is based on Lockroy's and Edmond Badon's Un duel sous le cardinal de Richelieu, which was also the source of Donizetti's 1843 opera Maria di Rohan, although the setting for Giordano's version was moved from 17th-century Paris to 18th-century Naples. The opera was a failure at its premiere and withdrawn after the second performance. Giordano's patron and publisher, Edoardo Sonzogno, blamed the failure on the poor libretto. Giordano blamed it on Sonzogno's interference in the production.
Silvano Carroli was an Italian baritone.