Sunday, February 22, 2009

Teatro Grattacielo Presents the U.S. Première of Pietro Mascagni's 1921 Opera of the French Revolution


Teatro Grattacielo will celebrate its 15th Anniversary with the North American Première of Pietro Mascagni’s dramatic opera, Il Piccolo Marat at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center on Monday, April 13, 2009, conducted by Teatro Grattacielo’s Music Director David Wroe.

The performance will also feature the participation of over 100 choristers, combining members of the Cantori New York Chorus and the Long Island University Chorus, Mark Shapiro, Director, with the Teatro Grattacielo Orchestra.

Tickets are all on the Orchestra Level: $75 - $50 - $25 - $15
available at the Box Office or through CenterCharge at 212-721-6500

Scene from Act One of the 1921 premiere of the opera

The large cast includes tenor Arnold Rawls, Turkish bass Burak Bilgili, soprano Paula Delligatti and baritone Andrew Oakden. See more about the cast here. The story concerns a young man who rescues his sweetheart and his mother from the clutches of a petty revolutionary who is determined to take revenge on aristocrats. The opera features massive choral forces, dramatic scenes of great beauty, and tender moments of love that are the rival of any Verismo opera. This is a work that deserves to be heard, and will be the only chance to hear it in the New York area, performed by a full symphonic orchestra and world-class singers, conducted by a maestro in full command of these revolutionary resources.

Pietro Mascagni around the time of "Il Piccolo Marat"

Considered by many critics to be Mascagni’s greatest achievement, Il Piccolo Marat was a huge success at its Rome premiere in 1921, receiving over 50 curtain calls. The opera went on to be produced throughout Italy, and in Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Alexandria, Barcelona, Paris and at La Scala. You can hear historic recordings here, from 1920's performances of Il Piccolo Marat.

Written during - and about - a period of great anxiety, destruction, and change, not unlike our own recent times, Il Piccolo Marat’s message is the triumph of hope over despair, of love over hatred, and of good over evil. It confirms the possibility of transformation in spite of the whirlwinds that might surround us.

Learn more about the opera at the Teatro Grattacielo website.

Teatro Grattacielo is extremely pleased and honored to present this great masterpiece to New York in its long-overdue North American Première.

Teatro Grattacielo: "Maybe you haven't heard your favorite opera yet!"

2 Riverside Drive, 2C | New York, NY 10023 | 212-595-7127 | email:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Today December 7 is Mascagni's Birthday

Pietro Mascagni was born in Livorno, Italy on this day (December 7) in 1863. This is as good an occasion as any to play some of his music! As for me, I am playing the grand duet from Il piccolo Marat with Mafalda de Voltri and Hipolito Lázaro.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Photo of Mascagni Rehearsing Aida

This fascinating photo recently turned up at an eBay auction. It was advertised as a photo of Mascagni rehearsing Cavalleria rusticana, but obviously the sets are those of Aida, and if you look carefully you can see the conductor score for Aida right behind Mascagni!

On the podium, you can read "Fot. Willinger Wien". This inscription is designed to look like something engraved on the podium, but it was likely added by the photographer. This would point to a performance of Aida in Vienna. As for the date, I would guess that this took place during the 1930s given Mascagni's looks. It should be possible to find a more precise date by looking up when Mascagni conducted Aida in Vienna.

Thanks to the seller, James Camner, who was kind enough to provide me with a good scan of this photo.

Update: Roger points out that this looks like an outdoor performance, and that Mascagni conducted Aida in Vienna in August 1924, among other dates. So that photo could very well be from August 1924.

Update: John found this mini-biography about a photographer called Laszlo Willinger who had a studio in Vienna in the 1930s.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pianist Marco Sollini Playing Today in Cherry Hill, North Carolina

Pianist Marco Sollini is playing today at the Cherry Hill Plantation in North Carolina. Sollini "oversaw the publication by Boccaccini and Spada of the piano music of Puccini, Mascagni, Giordano, Leoncavallo, and Bellini as well as chamber music by Rossini and Mascagni" (as reported in the article linked below).

Relevant resources:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cavalleria Rusticana in Venice in December 2009 (corrected)

The illustrious Venice opera house, Teatro La Fenice, has announced performances of Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana on the following dates:
  • Thursday, December 11, 2009 at 7 PM
  • Saturday, December 13, 2009 at 3:30 PM
  • Tuesday, December 16, 2009 at 7 PM
  • Thursday December 18, 2009 at 7 PM
  • Saturday, December 20, 2009 at 3:30 PM
What's interesting is that unlike the usual pairing with Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, Cavalleria rusticana will be performed alongside Leoš Janáček's Šárka.

The cast will be as follows:
  • Conductor: Eliahu Inbal
  • Santuzza: Anna Smirnova
  • Turiddu: Walter Fraccaro
  • Orchestra and chorus: Teatro La Fenice
  • Chorus master: Claudio Marino Moretti
  • Mise en scène: Ermanno Olmi
  • Sets: Arnaldo Pomodoro
  • Costumes: Maurizio Millenotti
Update: This blog initially announced that the performances would take place in December 2008. They will instead take place in December 2009.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Amica in Rome in the Coming Days

Six performances of Mascagni's Amica will take place in the coming days in Rome: Tuesday 7, Wednesday 8, Thursday 9 and Friday 10 at 8:30 PM, Saturday 11 at 6 PM, and Sunday October 12 at 5 PM.

Contrary to what was thought earlier, the work will be given in the original French with Italian supertitles, which is excellent news as Mascagni composed the music directly to the French libretto by Choudens. Only later was the libretto translated to Italian, in a translation which I think is quite coarse.

The last time the opera was performed in Rome was on May 13, 1905, in the Italian version, conducted by Mascagni himself, as he took the habit of conducting his own works early in the career.

Hisorically, Amica is one of the least performed Mascagni operas, especially in French. It is therefore encouraging to see renewed interest in this extremely interesting work (with "echoes of Wagner, Mahler and Ravel" according to Antonino Fogliani), after the performances in French at Martina Franca in 2007. The upcoming performances in the beautiful setting of the Rome opera house promise higher quality and will hopefully do justice to the work.

The cast will be as follows:
  • Conductor: Antonino Fogliani
  • Amica: Amarilli Nizza / Patrizia Orciani
  • Giorgio: Enrique Ferrer / Maurizio Comencini
  • Rinaldo: Alberto Mastromarino / Angelo Veccia
  • Padron Camoine: Marcello Lippi
  • Maddalena: Lucia Mastromarino
  • Orchestra and chorus of the Rome opera
  • Chorus master: Andrea Giorgi
  • Mise en scène: Jean Louis Grinda
  • Sets: Rudy Sabounghi
  • Teresa Acone: costumes
  • Laurent Castaingt: lights
These performances are co-produced with Opéra di Montecarlo and Teatro Carlo Goldoni of Livorno.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chocolat Guérin-Boutron Card

I just got this pretty nice card, which features a scene from Cavalleria rusticana. It bears the number 28, and was part of a series of trading cards distributed with Guérin-Boutron chocolate boxes. I found a reference online to a series of 78 cards dedicated to music composers, and this one was probably part of that set.

Compare with these other cards, especially this one distributed with Suchard cacao.