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Today’s Memory – Pietro Mascagni2 min read

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Pietro Mascagni

Pietro Antonio Stefano Mascagni; 7 December 1863, Livorno, Kingdom of Italy – 2 August 1945, Rome, Italy


Pietro Mascagni was an Italian operatic composer, one of the principal exponents of verismo, a style of opera writing marked by melodramatic, often violent plots with characters drawn from everyday life.

Mascagni studied at the conservatory at Milan, but, unable to submit to the discipline of his master, Amilcare Ponchielli, he left to join a traveling opera company. In 1889 he won the first prize in a competition with his one-act opera Cavalleria rusticana, based on a Sicilian melodrama by Giovanni Verga. It was produced at the Teatro Costanzi, Rome, on May 17, 1890, and was an instant success; it subsequently maintained its popularity, usually being given with Ruggero Leoncavallo’s one-act Pagliacci.

Cavalleria rusticana (1890) • Orchestra and Choir of La Scala, Conductor Herbert von Karajan (1968)

Le maschere (1901), reviving the commedia dell’arte, is musically superior, though it had little success. Mascagni succeeded Arturo Toscanini as musical director of La Scala, Milan, in 1929. Among Mascagni’s other operas are L’amico Fritz (1891), Iris (1898), and Nerone (1935), the last glorifying Benito Mussolini.

Pietro Mascagni – Le Maschere Ouvertüre • I Solisti di Napoli, Direttore Susanna Pescetti

Mascagni wrote fifteen operas, an operetta, several orchestral and vocal works, as well as 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.

Pietro Mascagni – Iris • Orchestra e coro della Rai di Torino, Direttore Angelo Questa

He created a variety of styles in his operas: a Sicilian passion and warmth of Cavalleria, the exotic flavor of Iris, the idylls of L’amico Fritz and Lodoletta, the Gallic chiaroscuro of Isabeau, the steely, Veristic power of Il piccolo Marat, the over-ripe post-romanticism of the lush Parisina, which demonstrate his versatility.

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Pietro Mascagni – Barcarola


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