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Pietro Mascagni

Composer

Biography

Italian composer and conductor Pietro Mascagni (1863–1945) is best known for his verismo masterpiece Cavalleria rusticana. His many other operas include the romantic comedy L’amico Fritz.

Mascagni was born in Livorno and followed his musical vocation against his father’s wishes. His first compositions won him financial support to study at the Milan Conservatory. He left in 1885 before graduating to work as a conductor with Dario Acconci’s touring company, which had staged his operetta Il re a Napoli earlier that year. He settled in Cerignola in 1886 to work as a teacher. In 1888 he won the Sonzogno Competition with Cavalleria rusticana. The opera’s premiere in 1890 was a tremendous success, which Mascagni built on the following year with L’amico Fritz. He became increasingly prominent as a conductor and in 1892 conducted his opera I Rantzau around Europe. He was director of the Liceo Musicale in Pesaro 1885–1902. Further successes included Amica (1905) and Isabeau (1911), alongside such failures as Le maschere (1901). In 1915 he experimented with writing for cinema in Rapsodia satanica with Nino Oxilia. After the verismo Il piccolo Marat in 1921 he largely withdrew from public life. His final opera Nerone had its premiere in 1935.

Though Mascagni never equalled the success of Cavalleria rusticana, his later works often share that opera’s melodic vitality and vivid handling of drama.

Videos

News and features

A three-course meal: Puccini’s <em>Il trittico</em> and the tradition of piecing short operas together

A three-course meal: Puccini’s Il trittico and the tradition of piecing short operas together

19 February 2016

Like a collection of short stories or the B-movies of the 1940s and 50s, grouping operas together allows us to appreciate their contrasts.

Recommended Recordings: <em>Cavalleria rusticana</em> / <em>Pagliacci</em>

Recommended Recordings: Cavalleria rusticana / Pagliacci

10 December 2015

With so many DVD, Blu-Ray and CD recordings of Mascagni and Leoncavallo's operas on offer, how do you choose between them?

A happy marriage despite a fiery courtship: <em>Cavalleria rusticana</em> and <em>Pagliacci</em>

A happy marriage despite a fiery courtship: Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci

2 December 2015

Fierce competition may have fuelled the composition of these two operas, but together they now make one of opera’s most popular couplings.

Photos

Production photo of Cavalleria rusticana

Production photo of Cavalleria rusticana

Dimitri Platanias as Alfio in Cavalleria rusticana

Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda and Dionysios Sourbis as Silvio in Cavalleria rusticana

Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza and Dimitri Platanias as Alfio in Cavalleria rusticana

Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza and Aleksandrs Antonenko as Turrido in Cavalleria rusticana

Elena Zilio as Mama Lucia in Cavalleria rusticana

Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda and Dionysios Sourbis as Silvio in Pagliacci

Dimitri Platanias as Tonio, Aleksandrks Antonenko as Canio and Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda in Pagliacci

Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda and Aleksandrs Antonenko as Canio in Pagliacci

Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda, Aleksandrs Antonenko as Canio and Dimitri Platanias as Tonio in Pagliacci

Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda, Dionysios Sourbis as Silvio and Dimitri Platanias as Tonio in Pagliacci

Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda and Dimitri Platanias as Tonio in Pagliacci

Pietro Mascagni. Photograph by Bushnell, San Francisco

Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana

Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana

Production photo of Pagliacci

Dimitri Platanias as Tonio, Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda, Aleksandrs Antonenko as Canio and Benjamin Hulett as Beppe in Pagliacci

Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda in Pagliacci

Elena Zilio as Mama Lucia and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana

Production photo of Cavalleria rusticana

Martina Belli as Lola and Aleksandrs Antonenko as Turridu in Cavalleria rusticana

Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana

Elena Zilio as Mama Lucia and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana

Production photo of Cavalleria rusticana

Dionysios Sourbis as Silvio in Cavalleria rusticana

Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda and Dionysios Sourbis as Silvio in Pagliacci

Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda, Aleksandrs Antonenko as Canio and Benjamin Hulett as Beppe in Pagliacci

Aleksandrs Antonenko as Canio and Dimitri Platanias as Tonio in Pagliacci

Carmen Giannattasio as Nedda and Dionysios Sourbis as Silvio in Pagliacci

Pietro Mascagni and Ruggero Leoncavallo

Production photo of Cavalleria rusticana

Elena Zilio as Mama Lucia in Cavalleria rusticana

Elena Zilio as Mama Lucia and Aleksandrs Antonenko as Turridu in Cavalleria rusticana

Dimitri Platanias as Alfio in Cavalleria rusticana

Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza and Aleksandrs Antonenko as Turrido in Cavalleria rusticana