Pietro Mascagni (Composer)|
Pietro Antonio Stefano Mascagni (December 7, 1863 – August 2, 1945) was an
Italian composer most noted for his operas. His 1890 masterpiece Cavalleria
rusticana caused one of the greatest sensations in opera history and
single-handedly ushered in the Verismo movement in Italian dramatic music.
Though it has been stated that Mascagni, like Leoncavallo, was a "one-opera man"
who could never repeat his first success, this is inaccurate. L'amico Fritz and
Iris have been popular in Europe since their respective premieres. In fact,
Mascagni himself claimed that at one point Iris was performed in Italy more
often than Cavalleria (cf. Stivender).
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.
If he never repeated the international success of Cavalleria, it was probably
because Mascagni refused to copy himself. The variety of styles in his operas —
the Sicilian passion and warmth of Cavalleria, the exotic flavor of Iris, the
idyllic breeze that ventilates the charming L'amico Fritz and Lodoletta, the
Gallic chiaroscuro of Isabeau, the steely, Veristic power of Il piccolo Marat,
the overripe postromanticism of the lush Parisina — demonstrate a versatility
that surpasses even that of Puccini.