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Cavalleria rusticana 101—Musical Fashion – Opera Colorado

Opera Colorado Music Director Ari Pelto conducts the Opera Colorado Orchestra onstage on the Ellie Caulkins Opera Home (2015)
Photograph: Matthew Staver/Opera Colorado

By: Betsy Schwarm

In 1888, Pietro Mascagni (1863 – 1945) heard of a contest for one-act operas. With 4 full operas to his identify, the Italian composer was on the verge of submitting one excerpted act of his historic drama, Guglielmo Ratcliff. Nevertheless, his spouse had already despatched in considered one of his more moderen works with out his information. The piece was Cavalleria rusticana, normally translated as “Rustic Chivalry,” although there’s little standard chivalry within the piece. A darkish and gritty story of affection and revenge in Sicily, it not solely received the highest prize but in addition turned a global smash hit from the second of its Could 17, 1890 premiere in Rome.

Involved in studying extra about Cavalleria rusticana‘s plot, setting, and characters? Try the primary installments of Cavalleria rusticana 101—Characters and Plot>>

Meet the Composer: Pietro Mascagni

Immediately, younger Mascagni was typecast as a composer of “verismo— a style of opera that includes practical, down-to-earth, and infrequently tragic tales. Cavalleria rusticana is all these issues, however his following dozen operas had been considerably mellower and by no means extensively accepted by audiences or critics. Regardless of sustaining a busy profession as a composer and conductor, Mascagni remained—within the public view—a one-hit marvel, by no means recapturing the success of this dramatic free-for-all.

The Musical Fashion of Cavalleria rusticana

As a complete, Cavalleria rusticana’s music is determinedly robust, passionate, and infrequently conversational in phrasing. This fashion matches nicely throughout the context of “verismo.” In actual life, folks don’t expound for 4 or 5 minutes at a time; they converse with each other. The conversational phrasing is why one doesn’t typically discover excerpts from Cavalleria rusticana on recital applications. A reside efficiency with a full forged is a uncommon alternative to pattern the music’s magnificence and energy, listening to it in context as Mascagni supposed.

Contemplate additionally Cavalleria rusticana’s instrumental and choral materials. Mascagni opens the opera with a short prelude that makes it clear this shall be an opera containing romance and anger. Not lengthy after, a refrain of worshippers course of into the village church for Easter providers. Peacefully and reverently, they sing Mascagni’s lovely setting of the “Regina cœli.” A church choir director looking for one thing new for worship providers may want to take be aware.

Mascagni’s “Intermezzo”

Essentially the most well-known music from Cavalleria rusticana is definitely the “Intermezzo” between the one-act opera’s two dramatic scenes. It’s transient, however oh, so lyrical—rigidity resolves to serenity. Like the attention of a hurricane, the “Intermezzo” is a delicate respite earlier than the storm resumes. One imagines the characters are maybe reflecting on what they need to do, however their subsequent choice outcome within the deeply human drama to return. Find out about Hollywood’s love affair with this piece in An Opera Match for Hollywood.>>

Notes and synopsis © Betsy Schwarm, writer of the Classical Music Insights sequence.

If you happen to beloved studying in regards to the musical themes all through Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, you deserve to listen to the music reside and in individual! Tickets for Opera Colorado’s September live performance manufacturing of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana are on sale now>>

Which themes are your favourite in Cavalleria rusticana? Is there a theme you hear all through the opera that we missed? 




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