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Ensemble

A Trip to Heaven

'Cavalleria Rusticana' and 'I Pagliacci'
at San Diego Opera,
enjoyed by MARIA NOCKIN

 

Verismo, a literary style sometimes translated as Realism, Neo-realism or even Extravagant Realism, began in France during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Bizet's Carmen, which shocked the sensibilities of middle class patrons at the Paris Opéra Comique during its première in 1875, is said to be the first verismo opera.

Carter Scott as Santuzza in 'Cavalleria Rusticana'. Photo © 2008 Ken Howard
Carter Scott as Santuzza in 'Cavalleria Rusticana'. Photo © 2008 Ken Howard

Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) knew that Giovanni Verga's short story, Cavalleria Rusticana, had been made into a successful play. Thus, he decided that if set to music, its story would make an excellent entry for a one-act opera contest being held in Italy.

Richard Leech as Turiddu with townsmen in 'Cavalleria Rusticana' at San Diego Opera. Photo © 2008 Ken Howard
Richard Leech as Turiddu with townsmen in 'Cavalleria Rusticana' at San Diego Opera. Photo © 2008 Ken Howard

The composer lost his nerve at the last moment, but his wife submitted Cavalleria to the contest. It won first prize and, as a result, it was premièred at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 17 May 1890. In no time it became immensely popular, and after the Rome performances, it was soon seen in other cities.

Richard Leech as Turiddu and Carter Scott as Santuzza in 'Cavalleria Rusticana'. Photo © 2008 Ken Howard
Richard Leech as Turiddu and Carter Scott as Santuzza in 'Cavalleria Rusticana'. Photo © 2008 Ken Howard

 

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Copyright © 30 March 2008 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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