An opera by Pietro Mascagni
Dodici Anni dopo
freely inspired by the drama written by Giovanni Grasso in 1917
FESTIVAL LIRICO DEI TEATRI DI PIETRA – ED. 2021
Ancient Theatre, Friday 20th August 2021 @ 9.30 pm
Cavalleria Rusticana is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) to an Italian libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, adapted from a play written by Giovanni Verga based on his short story. It is the first and best known Mascagni’s works. Its success has been phenomenal from its first performance in the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on May 17, 1890 until the present day. At the time of Mascagni’s death in 1945, the opera had been performed more than 14,000 times in Italy alone.
“The Teatro Illustrato invites young Italian musicians to participate in a new competition for a one-act opera.” In 1888, the publisher Sonzogno launched its second competition for young Italian composers. The winner was Pietro Mascagni with Cavalleria Rusticana, and so it was that this story of an honour killing in a Sicilian village in the late nineteenth century, from a short story of the same name by Verga, entered the operatic canon. Owing to the intense dramatic power of the score and libretto, the opera quickly became recognised as a manifesto of Italian verism.
Gallery (central): € 122,00
Gallery (central): € 67,00/€72,00
Cavea (Lower circle – lateral): € 37,00/€ 42,00
Cavea (Lower circle – central): € n.a.
Cavea (upper circle – lateral): € 32,00/€ 27,00
Place: A 19th-century Sicilian village
Time: Easter morning
Before the action takes place the young villager Turiddu returned from military service to find out that his fiancée Lola had married the carter Alfio while he was away. In revenge, Turiddu seduced Santuzza, a young woman in the village. As the opera begins, Lola, overcome by her jealousy of Santuzza, has begun an adulterous affair with Turiddu.
The main square of the village
Offstage, Turiddu is heard singing a siciliana, “O Lola c’hai di latti la cammisa” (“O Lola! like the snow, pure in thy whiteness!”). To one side is the church; to the other is Lucia’s wine shop and the house where she lives with her son, Turiddu. The villagers move about the square, singing of the beautiful spring day, “Gli aranci olezzano sui verdi margini” (“The air is sweet with orange blossoms”) and a hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some villagers enter the church, and others wander off still singing.
Santuzza, having slept with Turiddu and suspecting that he has betrayed her for Lola, is distraught and approaches Lucia as she comes out of her house. Santuzza asks for Turiddu, but Lucia replies that he has gone to another town to fetch some wine. Santuzza tells her that he was seen during the night in the village. Lucia asks her inside to talk, but just at that moment Alfio arrives on his wagon, accompanied by the villagers. He praises the joys of a teamster’s life and the beauty of Lola his bride. Alfio asks Lucia for some of her fine old wine. She tells him it has run out and Turiddu has gone away to buy more. Alfio replies that he had seen Turiddu early that morning near his cottage. Lucia starts to express surprise, but Santuzza stops her.
Alfio leaves. The choir inside the church is heard singing the Regina Coeli. Outside, the villagers sing an Easter Hymn, “Inneggiamo, il Signor non è morto” (“We rejoice that our Saviour is living!”) joined by Santuzza. The villagers enter the church, while Santuzza and Lucia remain outside. Lucia asks Santuzza why she signalled her to remain silent when Alfio said that he had seen Turiddu that morning. Santuzza exclaims, “Voi lo sapete” (“You well know”) and tells Lucia the story of her seduction by Turiddu and his affair with Lola. Lucia pities Santuzza, who feels dishonored, having been seduced by Turiddu only to be abandoned by him for his old flame, Lola. Santuzza feels she cannot enter the church, but begs Lucia to go inside herself and pray for Santuzza who stays behind to try to plead with Turiddu to leave Lola and return to her.
Santuzza pleads with Turiddu that he not go to meet with Lola again.
Turiddu arrives. Santuzza upbraids him for pretending to have gone away, when he was actually seeing Lola. Lola enters the square singing. She mocks Santuzza and goes inside the church. Turiddu turns to follow Lola, but Santuzza begs him to stay. Turiddu pushes her away. She clings to him. He loosens her hands, throws her to the ground, and enters the church. Alfio arrives looking for Lola. Santuzza tells him that his wife has betrayed him with Turiddu. Alfio swears to take vendetta (revenge) which causes Santuzza to repent for having disclosed the affair and begs Alfio to stop, but to no avail.
Turiddu bites Alfio’s ear
The villagers come out of the church. Turiddu is in high spirits because he is with Lola and Santuzza appears to have gone. He invites his friends to his mother’s wine shop where he sings a drinking song, “Viva, il vino spumeggiante” (“Hail to the bubbling wine!”). Alfio joins them. Turiddu offers him wine, but he refuses it. All understand that trouble is in the air. The women leave, taking Lola with them. In a brief exchange of words, Alfio challenges Turiddu to a duel. Following Sicilian custom, the two men embrace, and Turiddu, in a token of acceptance, bites Alfio’s ear, drawing blood which signifies a fight to the death. Alfio leaves and Turiddu calls Lucia back. He tells her that he is going outside to get some air and asks that she be a kindly mother to Santuzza if he should not return: “Un bacio, mamma! Un altro bacio!—Addio!” (“One kiss, mother! One more kiss! – Farewell!”).
Turiddu rushes out. Lucia, weeping, wanders aimlessly around outside her house. Santuzza approaches and throws her arms around her. The villagers start to crowd around. Voices are heard in the distance and a woman cries, “They have murdered Turiddu!” Santuzza faints and Lucia collapses in the arms of the women villagers.
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