Story & Setting:
Mascagni's work is based on a short story of the same name by Sicilian realist author Giovanni Verga. Adapted by the composer's friend Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti into an operatic libretto, Cavalleria Rusticana provides a look into the economic distress and small town life of the rural Italian south at the end of the 19th century.
Pietro Mascagni was a young and unknown composer when he submitted this work for a Milanese publisher's one-act opera competition. At its presentation and premiere, the audience response was so intense that the composer and cast were obliged to return for dozens of curtain calls, and the piece was awarded first prize. It's popularity has not ceased since its inception, and the opera is touted as the groundbreaking first work in the verismo movement.
Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945)