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CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA by Pietro Mascagni
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CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA (edition 2006)

by Pietro Mascagni

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Member:Dunkelbaum
Title:CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA
Authors:Pietro Mascagni
Info:Naxos (2006)
Collections:CDs
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Tags:Opera, Mascagni

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Cavalleria Rusticana [audio recording] by Pietro Mascagni

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Pietro Mascagni (1863–1945)

Cavalleria rusticana

Melodrama in One Act
Libretto by G. Targioni-Tozzetti and G. Menasci
Based on a short story by Giovanni Verga

[1] Prelude (Orchestra) [2:35]
Part I [54:45]
[2] O Lola (Turiddu)
[3] Gli aranci olezzano (Chorus)
[4] Dite, mamma Lucia (Santuzza, Lucia)
[5] Il cavallo scalpita (Alfio, Chorus, Lucia, Santuzza)
[6] Regina coeli, laetare (Chorus, Santuzza)
[7] Perchè m’hai fatto... Voi lo sapete (Lucia, Santuzza)
[8] Tu qui, Santuzza (Turiddu, Santuzza)
[9] Fior di giaggolo (Lola, Turiddu, Santuzza)
[10] Ah! lo vedi... No, no Turiddu (Turiddu, Santuzza)
[11] Oh! Il Signore vi manda (Santuzza, Alfio)
[12] Intermezzo (Orchestra) [3:56]
Part II [16:33]
[13] A casa, a casa (Chorus, Turiddu, Lola)
[14] Intanto amici, qua (Turiddu, Lola, Chorus)
[15] A voi tutti salute! (Alfio, Chorus, Turiddu, Lola)
[16] Mamma, mamma! Quel vino è generoso (Turiddu, Lucia, Santuzza, Chorus)

Giuseppe Di Stefano – Turiddu
Maria Callas – Santuzza
Rolando Panerai – Alfio

Anna Maria Canali – Mamma Lucia
Ebbe Ticozzi – Lola

Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Tullio Serafin

Recorded: 16-25 June & 3-4 August 1953, Basilica di Santa Eufemia, Milan.

Naxos, 2006. 77:48. Liner notes by Michael Scott. Reissue Producer and Audio Restoration Engineer: Mark Obert-Thorn.

=========================================

It is tempting to compare this recording to Serafin’s stereo remake (1960). Tempting, but misguided. Serafin’s interpretation is pretty much the same, but seven years later he had a different orchestra (Santa Cecilia), very different singers (Simionato, Del Monaco, MacNeil) and, most important of all, a different label (Decca) which gave him a vastly superior sound.

The mono sound here is poor. As Mark Obert-Thorn notes in his “Producer’s Note”, this recording shares “a number of sonic shortcomings” with that of I Puritani made immediately before that, again with Callas and Di Stefano, again for EMI, and probably again by the same obscure Italian team. All the usual suspects are present: limited dynamics, overload distortion, harsh voices, strange balance between singers, orchestra and chorus. No remastering can fix them. Again as noted by Mr Obert-Thorn, some portions (e.g. the Turiddu-Santuzza duet) were “so badly recorded that it is a wonder the set was passed for issue.” I have to concur. Perhaps the unusual recording venue, a small church in Milan, further complicated matters. Amazingly, the same August 1953 also saw the recording of the legendary Tosca with Callas and Di Stefano, one of the greatest sonic achievements from the mono era. But this was made in La Scala itself, and by EMI’s British team headed by Walter Legge and Robert Becket.

So, if you are interested only in Serafin’s conducting, go for the stereo remake. But you will miss some of the most fabulous singing ever recorded. No sonic shortcomings can spoil the glory of Callas and Di Stefano in their absolute prime. They had their own shortcomings to overcome anyway.

Turiddu was not a part well suited to Di Stefano’s lyric tenor. But in 1953 he could sing anything with impunity. So he does here. This is an ardent, impassioned, impatient Turiddu, with every phrase shaped musically and dramatically. Callas, even in her prime, had no great voice in the first place, and her technique could be very shaky. But in the right repertoire she did achieve some stupendous results. Santuzza certainly belongs right up there with her Tosca. It is easy to find a better-sung “Voi lo sapete”; there are countless more elegant versions on record. But it’s very hard, probably impossible, to find a tenser, more dramatic and, ultimately, more affecting performance. Same deal with the great Turiddu-Santuzza duet (never mind Lola’s jaunty intrusion). More polished performances are legion. More sizzling drama than Callas and Di Stefano – that is another matter. Neither of them, by the way, indulges in excessive histrionics; even the last two lines of their duet, usually spoken, sometimes even shouted, are actually sung here.

Callas and Di Stefano were lucky to have the support of Rolando Panerai (b. 1924), one of the most versatile Italian baritones. One of the most underrated, too. He had a career that spanned half a century and a repertoire from Mozart and Verdi (how many baritones can you think of who excelled in Mozart and Verdi?) to Puccini, Prokofiev and Wagner, not to mention obscure fellows like Humperdinck, Menotti and Galuppi. Not yet 29 at the time of this recording, Panerai, too, was in his prime (which, however, continued longer than those of Callas and Di Stefano taken togeher) and delivers a robust, intense, almost brutal performance. If you want a proof of this, skip Alfio’s “whip aria” and go for his duet with Santuzza. This “Infami loro, ad essi non perdono” is surely one of the most terrifying things on record. (So is Panerai’s Count Di Luna recorded three years later with Callas, Di Stefano and Karajan.)

This Naxos edition is quite as good as its price. I suppose the sound can hardly be improved more than that. It has to be endured rather than enjoyed. The liner notes by the Callas biographer and worshipper Michael Scott you can skip with clear conscience. He deigns to provide short biographical notes about the other singers and the conductor (copy-pasted in his liner notes on all other Callas recordings on Naxos), but this is out of pure politeness. So far as he is concerned, La Divina is the only thing that matters. There is even one paragraph on Callas as Tosca which is quite irrelevant and seems to have been included by mistake.

There is, of course, no libretto in the booklet. Don’t forget to follow it closely. There is no excuse for listening to opera without following the libretto or, better still, intimate knowledge of it acquired earlier. This one is very short, neatly constructed and repays careful study, including lots of Easter atmosphere and local colour, even some touches of dramatic irony. Have you noticed, for instance, that Turiddu’s opening “Siciliana”, which in fact interrupts the orchestral prelude, foreshadows the tragedy? Here it is (I give the 1989 translation by Avril Bardoni; the one by Willard G. Day, while readable and probably accurate, strikes me as somewhat pretentious for a Sicilian peasant):

O Lola, with your milk-white blouse,
white-skinned, with lips like cherries,
your laughing face looks from the window,
and the first one to kiss you is blessed!
Blood may be spilt on your doorstep,
but to die there is nothing to me.
If, dying, I went up to heaven,
and found you not there I would flee!
( )
1 vote Waldstein | May 5, 2018 |
Pietro Mascagni (1863–1945)

Cavalleria rusticana


Carlo Bergonzi – Turiddu
Fiorenza Cossotto – Santuzza
Giangiacomo Guelfi – Alfio
Mariagrazia Allegri – Lucia
Adriane Martino – Lola

Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala
Herbert von Karajan

Recorded: 9-10/1965, La Scala, Milan.

Deutsche Grammophon, 1999. The Originals. TT 80'43. Full libretto (It+Eng+Ger+Fr). Liner notes by Bernhard Uske.

=========================================

This stupendous recording, together with Pagliacci made at the same time and again with Carlo Bergonzi, has been praised ever since it was released 50 years ago. Richard Osborne, Karajan’s most thorough biographer, has gone as far as to make this bold observation:

It was an astonishing set that led even the Italians themselves to divide the interpretative histories of this celebrated pair of verismo operas into two ages: “pre-Karajan” and “post-Karajan”.[1]

It’s not hard to hear why. Karajan coaxes tremendous sound from the orchestra and chorus of La Scala, vividly captured by DG in one of their best sonic achievements from the 1960s. Cavalleria has never sounded grander before or since. Even Tullio Serafin’s stereo recording, made only five years earlier in fine “Decca sound”, pales compared to Karajan’s scrupulous attention to detail and, in the mighty orchestral and choral climaxes, sound tsunamis. The final result is quite a revelation about Mascagni’s use of the orchestra. The strings in the beginning of Turiddu’s “Mamma, quel vino e generoso” are just one example of revealing detail which, though clearly heard on other recordings, seldom attracts the attention it deserves. Karajan makes you pay attention and convinces you that nothing could have described better the frantic confusion of Turiddu’s mind at this moment.

Yet Karajan, contrary to some popular misconceptions, was neither a primarily orchestral conductor, nor an egomaniac who cared nothing for his singers in opera. On the contrary, he was in love with human voice all his life, conducted a great deal of opera, and did his best to give singers ample opportunity to shine.[2] When they need to be heard, he lowers the volume accordingly. And they are worth hearing indeed! Fiorenza Cossotto was a worthy heir of Giulietta Simionato, the greatest Santuzza of the previous generation and, fortunately for future generations, immortalised on Serafin’s 1960 recording. Cossotto is more restrained and subtle, but by no means does she lack intensity. Carlo Bergonzi is far from being my favourite tenor: I prefer more robust voices like Del Monaco, Corelli and Di Stefano. But unlike some of his colleagues who carry stylish elegance just a little too far, Kraus and Gedda being prime examples, Bergonzi can, and here does, infuse his singing with some passion. This is an elegant Turiddu, but there is never any doubt in his Sicilian blood. Giangiacomo Guelfi is a fine Alfio, with a booming baritone when his quick temper demands it, but also with subtle vocal acting when necessary (in the chilling confrontation with Turiddu in the end).

The only problem with this recording is that it’s not available together with the 1965 Pagliacci as a set.[3] The reason is obvious, of course. Why should we have one release when we can have two for twice the price? So the salesmen in DG rhetorically asked themselves. As a result, both recordings are offered separately in extra-size double jewel cases (to accommodate the thick booklets with the libretti). At least the price is affordable – and worth paying twice. If these recordings cannot convince you in the greatness of Pagliacci and Cavalleria, probably none can.

__________________________________________________​
[1] See his liner notes to the DVD with Karajan’s 1968 films of Pagliacci and Cavalleria (Unitel/DG, 2008).
[2] There are several exceptions among his recordings (e.g. Der fliegende Holländer, Otello with Vickers and Freni) in which the balance between singers and orchestra is not the best possible and the former are sometimes drowned out. But these really are exceptions.
[3] [Addendum, May 4, 2018.] I stand corrected. It seems that Karajan’s Cavalleria and Pagliacci were released together as a 3-CD set back in 1990, the former stupidly (but necessarily at that time) split in the end, the latter filled up with some intermezzi (almost certainly) from Karajan’s equally legendary 1967 LP. A new deluxe edition on two discs, as remastered in the 1990s for The Originals and no doubt with the same liner notes, is scheduled to be released on 11 May 2018. ( )
1 vote Waldstein | Dec 19, 2015 |
Pietro Mascagni (1863–1945)

Cavalleria rusticana


[1] Preludio
[2] O Lola ch’ai di latti la cammisa
[3] Ah! Ah! Gli aranci olezzano
[4] Ditte Mamma Lucia
[5] Il cavallo scalpita
[6] Beato voi, compar Alfio… Regina Coeli
[7] Voi lo sapete
[8] Tu qui, Santuzza?
[9] Fior di giaggolo
[10] Ah! lo vedi
[11] Oh! Il Signore vi manda
[12] Intermezzo
[13] A casa, a casa, amici
[14] Viva in vino spumeggiante
[15] A voi tutti, salute!
[16] Mamma, quel vino e generoso

Mario del Monaco – Turiddu
Giulietta Simionato – Santuzza
Cornell MacNeil – Alfio
Anna di Stasio – Lucia
Ana Raquel Sastre – Lola

Orchestra e Coro del Academia di Santa Cecilia
Tullio Serafin

Recorded: 1960, Rome.

Belart, 1999. Licensed by Decca. TT 76:19. Cover art: Italian Mountain Town by Martha Walther (1875–1976).

=========================================

Poor Pietro! He was one of those mightily unlucky individuals who enjoy early professional success which is never repeated for the rest of their lives. And who can tell how much of the recent popularity of his opera is not due to The Godfather III (1990)?

Michael Corleone: I’ve invited you all here to celebrate my son’s first appearance in an opera house… in the opera “Cavallaria rustacana”.
Anthony Corleone: It’s “Cavalleria rusticana”, dad.
Michael Corleone: Cavalleria! I think I got tickets for the wrong opera. I’ve been in New York too long.

Mascagni was only 26 years old when Cavalleria rusticana, his first opera, hit the world on 17 May 1890. It was a smashing success and it has remained in the standard repertoire to the present day. But that was it. Mascagni lived for 55 years more and composed 14 other operas. Only two of them, L’Amico Fritz and Iris, are remembered today by name. The former (Mascagni’s second opera) was a modest success after its premiere in 1891 and it did enjoy a certain vogue in the 1960s when Pavarotti astonished the world with his performance of the title role. In 1968 he made a now legendary recording and the opera was dropped. Don’t you believe those who tell you that Mascagni is much maligned as something he actually is not. A one-opera man he definitely is. Nor is there anything malignant about that. Think of the countless composers who turned into dust together with their complete outputs.

Whatever the vicissitudes of Pietro’s life and career, Cavalleria is a lovely opera. It is short and tuneful. It makes no great demands on the listener. It requires no preparation but a quick read of the libretto. It leaves no questions to ask after the last note. The music is dramatic, intense and memorable. The famous “Intermezzo sinfonico” has become one of the best known pieces of classical music. Turiddu’s siciliana [2], drinking song [14] and farewell to his mother [16] are perennial favourites with tenors who can manage the demanding part. The choruses are some of the most magnificent ever composed by anybody. The plot is ridiculous of course, but since when is this a problem in opera? Besides, the Sicilian setting has an exotic charm of its own, and the fact that the action takes place at Easter is an additional bonus.

If you want but one audio recording of Cavalleria, it might just be this one. It has been reissued countless times through the years for some very good reasons. First and most important of all, the two principals are glorious. Turiddu and Santuzza are not parts much in need of subtlety. They need stupendous voices. Mario and Giulietta absolutely have them. Alfio is not a part that can make or ruin the opera, but it’s nice to have it sung by Cornell MacNeil in his prime. Tullio Serafin, 82 years old at the time and the undisputable dean of Italian opera, leads chorus and orchestra with instinctive flair for high drama and beauty of sound; his Intermezzo is almost Karajanesque. The recording was originally made for Decca and the sound is a sumptuous early stereo, with excellent balance between singers and orchestra, fine dynamic range and the vivid naturalistic ambience characteristic for the label (you are sure to hear Alfio’s whip quite clearly).

To be sure, there are plenty of highly acclaimed recordings of Cavalleria out there. I’m not going to pretend that I know many of them. I have never felt any urgent need to go beyond Del Monaco, Simionato and Serafin. There doesn’t seem to be much room for improvement. Nevertheless, if the opera appeals to you, I can heartily recommend Karajan’s two recordings, the stupendous 1965 audio version with Fiorenza Cossotto and Carlo Bergonzi, which according to Richard Osborne divided the world of Italian opera to pre- and post-Karajan periods, and the 1968 film-opera in which the more dashing Gianfranco Cecchele replaced Bergonzi (in spite of some outdoor shots in the beginning and during the intermezzo, the film is very much an indoor production, but beautifully done). Both recordings are with the chorus and orchestra of La Scala producing unbelievable sound under Karajan’s baton. Serafin’s mono recording from 1953, with Maria Callas and Giuseppe di Stefano in top form, is also worth checking out as a completely different, but equally valid, interpretation of Mascagni’s masterpiece. ( )
1 vote Waldstein | Dec 17, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pietro Mascagniprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bergonzi, CarloTuriddumain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Callas, MariaSantuzzamain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cossotto, FiorenzaSantuzzamain authorsome editionsconfirmed
DelMonaco, MarioTuriddumain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Di Stefano, GiuseppeTuriddumain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Domingo, PlácidoTuriddumain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karajan, Herbert vonmain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serafin, Tulliomain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simionato, GiuliettaSantuzzamain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tebaldi, RenataSantuzzamain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bastianini, EttoreAfliosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guelfi, GiangiacomoAlfiosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MacNeil, CornellAlfiosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merril, RobertAlfiosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di MilanoOrchestrasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Panerai, RolandoAlfiosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serafin, Tulliosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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