Pietro Mascagni


Pietro Mascagni was born in Livorno on 7 December 1863.  He began studying music at thirteen, and entered the Milan Conservatory in 1881 with the financial backing of Count Florestanto de Larderel Fora.  There he studied with Ponchielli and Saladino, and lived with Puccini.  The strict rules of the conservatory were not to Mascagni's liking however, and he left to be a conductor, touring with various opera companies until settling down in Cerignola, where he taught at a philharmonic society.

In 1889 his opera Cavalleria Rusticana opened to great acclaim, and L'Amico Fritz and I Rantzau took his fame further across Europe, playing in Paris, Vienna and London.  Success followed success, with operas Iris (1898) and Amica (1905), the lyrical opera Lodoletta, and operetta Si (1917).  Most were in the verismo style which Mascagni founded - operatic realism with a regional flavour, focusing on often vulgar situations in the life of ordinary people.  They often involved passionate conflicts, the music following the dramatic action to bring out the emotion in the story.

Mascagni died on 2 August 1945.  During his later years he had been a supporter of the fascist party, and wrote Nerone (1932) about Mussolini.  Despite the taint this gave his reputation, it has had little effect on the success of Cavelleria Rusticana, his most famous work.

Related composers: PonchielliPuccini, Bizet

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