Mascagni first studied composition in Milan, rejecting his father's wishes to continue the family bakery business. At the age of 26 he achieved immediate fame by winning first prize in a competition for one-act operas. Although he wrote other operas, none matched the success of Cavalleria Rusticana, which was played worldwide and influenced many other composers of the time.
This one-act opera is a concise, passionate tale of Sicilian peasants, with lashings of love, jealousy and tragic death. In brief, Alfio a carterer, murders neighbour Turiddu in a duel having been told of Turiddu's relationship with his wife Lola by the rejected Santuzza, a village girl. At the heart of the opera is the intrigue and infidelity between all the principal characters. The opera ends with Alfio the victor and Santuzza in a deep swoon, her lover dead. This is a simple tale, played with great passion.
The famous Intermezzo is a serene interlude played to an empty stage representing the calm before the storm, the final climax of the death of Turiddu.
Programme notes for BHSO performance, Nov 2004
Written by Steve Armitage
Steve plays Second Violin, and is the Orchestra's Chairman
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