Pietro Mascagni
(1863-1945)

Italian composer Pietro Antonio Stefano Mascagni is most widely recognized for his operas. The masterpiece Cavelleria Rusticana, written in 1890, is one of the most renowned operas in history and led to the Verismo movement in Italian opera, which would last until the 1920s. He had several operas that achieved considerable popularity and works that continue to be performed to this day.

Born in Tuscany as the second son in his family, Pietro did not begin musical studies until he was 13, in 1876. By 1879 he had already composed several works, and his first opera premiered in 1881. The following year, Mascagni left for Milan and was admitted to the Conservatory. It was during these years when he met and befriended Puccini. Leaving before his studies were completed, he began touring with several operetta companies as a conductor. He met his future wife, Lina, in 1886, and the two were married in 1889. A day following their marriage, Lina gave birth to the couple’s son, Domenico.

Cavelleria Rusticana was an overnight sensation, catapulting Mascagni to international fame at the age of 26. In addition to the happiness he experienced as a well-known composer, he became a father again with his son Dino born in 1891, and for a third time when daughter Emi was born in 1892.

Mascagni continued to write and stage works, frequently conducting the premieres himself. He toured Europe, South America, and America conducting his own works and the works of other composers, and settled in Rome in 1927, where he would stay until his death in 1945.

In addition to 15 operas, Mascagni also wrote an operetta, orchestral and vocal works, and piano music. As a conductor and a composer, he was able to enjoy his successes during his lifetime. What separates Mascagni from other operatic composers is the unique versatility he has in his works—each piece has a distinct style which separates it from the rest of his repertoire.

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