Italian Opera Class 5: Verismo Style

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 Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry)

Music- Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945)

Libretto- C. Targioni-Tozzetti & G. Menasci

Premiere- Rome (1890)

Setting- a square in a Sicilian village, late 19th century

Principal Roles:

 Santuzza (dramatic soprano or mezzo soprano), Turiddu (spinto tenor), Alfio (dramatic baritone), Mama Lucia (Contralto)


It is Easter morning. Turiddu, son of the innkeeper, Mama Lucia, has abandoned Santuzza, with whom he had consoled himself for the loss of his former sweetheart, Lola. Lola had married Alfio during Turiddu’s military service, but now is flirting again with Turiddu. Santuzza, rejected and jealous, informs Alfio of his wife’s faithlessness. The famous Intermezzo proclaims the peace of Easter which is shattered by Alfio’s challenging Turiddu. The two men duel offstage, and a villager brings to Mama Lucia the tragic news of her son’s death.

Youtube Video Links:

La Scala film production, 1968, Herbert von Karajan(conductor), Giorgio Strehler (film director), Fiorenza Cossotto, Gianfranco Cecchele, Giangiancomo Guelfi, Anna di Stasio

[2:35-4:50] Turiddu, Siciliana

[16:40-33:10] Alfio & ensemble “Il cavallo scalpita” 

                       Santuzza & ensemble “Regina Coeli”

                       Santuzza aria “Voi lo sapete”

[57:40-1:06:00] Turiddu & ensemble “Viva il vino spumeggiante”

[1:07:10-1:10:00] Turiddu & Mama Lucia “Voi dovrete” 



Spinto tenor/soprano



The Giovane Scuola composers-

Ruggiero Leoncavallo

Pietro Mascagni

Umberto Giordano (1867-1948)

Francesco Cilea (1866-1950)

Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)


Music- Ruggiero Leoncavallo (1857-1919)

Libretto- by the composer

Premiere- Milan, (1892)

Setting- a southern Italian village, around the 1860s

Principal roles:

Canio (dramatic tenor), Nedda (lyric soprano), Tonio (dramatic baritone)


A troupe of strolling players arrives in the village. Canio, actor-manager, becomes suspicious of his young wife Nedda when Tonio, another actor, tells him that he saw her with a lover. Nedda, in fact, plans to elope with Silvio, a young villager. They are surprised in their rendezvous by Canio, but Silvio escapes unidentified. In the show that evening, a situation similar to real life is enacted, with Columbine hiding her lover from her jealous husband. Canio, beyond control, demands the name of his wife’s lover. When she refuses to tell, he stabs her. Silvio rises in horrified protest, whereupon Canio stabs him also, then turns to the audience and sobs that the comedy is finished.

Youtube Video Links:

Metropolitan Opera Production, 1994, Luciano Pavarotti, Theresa Stratas, Juan Pons

[4:14-8:52 (to applause)] Prologue- Tonio “Si puo? Signore! Signori!

[11:32-18:12] Canio’s announcement

[21:00-26:15 (to applause)] Nedda’s aria “Stridono lassu”

[47:00-50:50 (to applause)] Canio’s aria “Vesti la giubba”

[1:10:00-1:16:30] Canio’s aria “Pagliacco non son” to finale