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Published on Apr 3, 2008
The famous Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, the sensational verismo opera composed by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945). Written in great haste, for submission to a competition, it was his first operatic work. It won first prize, Mascagni received forty curtain calls, and next morning the Intermezzo was being whistled in the streets. Cavalleria Rusticana went on to take the world by storm, and by the time Mascagni died it had been performed over fourteen thousand times in Italy alone.
This orchestral interlude, the most popular excerpt from the opera, is intensely dramatic and comes at a crucial point in the story. Played over the setting of an empty square, the villagers having gathered for a church service, it is itself a moment of quiet, a brief respite from the naked emotions of the drama. At the same time, however, it looks back over the mounting passion and betrayal that preceded it, and foreshadows the bloodshed and tragedy to come.
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