05 Feb 2007

MASCAGNI: Cavalleria Rusticana

Cavalleria Rusticana, melodramma in one act.

Music composed by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945). Libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci after Giovanni Verga’s play.

First Performance: 17 May 1890, Teatro Costanzi, Rome.

Principal Characters:
Santuzza, a young peasant womanSoprano
Turiddu, a young peasantTenor
Mamma Lucia, his mother an innkeeperContralto
Alfio, a carrierBaritone
Lola, Alfio’s wifeMezzo-Soprano

Setting: A village in Sicily on Easter Sunday 1880


While the curtain is down, Turiddu sings. (Siciliana: “O Lola, lovely as the spring’s bright blooms.”) The action takes place before the church. Devout pantomime by the church-goers; behind the scene, chorus of peasants. (“Queen of Heaven.”) At last Santuzza and Lucia appear from opposite sides of the stage. (Santuzza: “Tell me, mamma Lucia.”) Turiddu is the lover of Santuzza and she believes he has discarded her for Lola; she has seen him entering the young woman’s house. The carrier Alfio, the husband of Lola, appears with the chorus and also says that he has seen Turiddu, but thinks nothing wrong of it. When Lucia, who has sent her son to Francofonte for wine, inquires further into the matter, she is asked to be silent by Santuzza. (Romanza: “Well do you know, good mamma.”)

After the chorus with Alfio has departed, Santuzza recites her wrongs. Turiddu loved Lola, but after his service in the army found her married to Alfio. He then entered into relations with Santuzza, and is now turnĀ­ing back to his former love. The alarmed Lucia enters the church with the peasants. Santuzza awaits Turiddu (Scene: “You, Santuzza”), who, however, treats her coldly and drives her to despair by leaving her and entering the church with Lola. (Duet: “Ah what folly”; Lola: “My king of roses.”) “You shall suffer in blood for this,” Santuzza exclaims, and discovers to the returning Alfio the unfaithfulness of Lola. (Duet: “God has sent you, neighbour Alfio.”) Breathing vengeance, the carrier resolves to kill Turiddu and departs with Santuzza. During the following orchestral music (Intermezzo) the stage remains empty.

Turiddu, Lola and the chorus emerge from the church; Turiddu sings a drinking song (“Hail the red wine, richly flowing”) and is then challenged by Alfio to a duel with knives after the manner of the Sicilians. Promising to follow Alfio he takes a moving farewell of his mother, and asks her to care for the unhappy Santuzza, whom he has so deeply wronged. After a short pause, Santuzza, followed by a crowd of women, rushes upon the stage, and with the stark cry of “Turiddu is dead," the opera ends abruptly.

Cavalleria rusticana, though it appears melodramatic even by modern operatic standards, is one of the few verismo operas that have consistently remained in the repertory.

[Source: Wikipedia]

Click here for the complete libretto.