Produced and presented by Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra
Opera in One Act| Composer: Pietro Mascagni | Librettists: Giovanni Targioni-Tizzeti & Guido Menasci
Original Story: Giovanni Verga
Venue: Xinghai Concert Hall
Date: 27 June, 2014
Runtime: 1 hours 20 minutes, with no intermission.
Between 1888 and 1902, Sonzogno organized four competitions calling for original one-act Italian operas. Puccini had unsuccessfully submitted Le villi for the first competition. Mascagni’s opera was awarded the first prize in 1890. With the success of Cavalleria rusticana, Sonzogno was quick to seize the opportunity and continue his campaign by encouraging young composers to emulate Mascagni. Owing to the predominance of contemporary characters and references to the bottom rungs of the social ladder in these works, the term verismo (borrowed from Italian literature) became the banner and emblem of Casa Sonzogno. On the other hand, the 3000 lire cash prize was almost irresistible to any young composer determined to try his hands on opera. As a result, the decade of 1890s witnessed a flourish of new Italian operas, depicted with deliberate awareness of reality.
The story is set in a Sicilian village around 1890. On Easter morning, Turiddu is heard singing about his beloved, Lola, who is now married to the merchant-carter, Alfio. Santuzza, a young woman who has been seduced and impregnated by Turiddu, arrives at the tavern of his mother, Lucia. Santuzza is desperate because of her heavy sense of guilt. The dialogue of the women is interrupted by the entrance of Alfio. Despite his outspoken pride and affection for his wife, Alfio also becomes suspicious of Turiddu’s relationship with Lola. While the villagers are attending mass, Santuzza encounters Turiddu. She confronts him and hopes to win him back. However, all is in vain. Not only does Turiddu forsake her, she is also mocked by Lola who passes by. Santuzza curses Turiddu as he enters church after Lola. Out of rage and jealousy, Santuzza revenges by revealing the affair to Alfio.
The action is suspended by the idyllic intermezzo. After the mass, Turiddu and the villagers gather for wine at the tavern. Alfio’s refusal to drink with Turridu provokes a challenge to a duel of knives. According to a long tradition of rustic chivalry, Turiddu takes the initiative with an embrace and a bite on Alfio’s right ear, meaning the two shall fight till death. Turiddu bids an impassioned farewell to his mother and asks her to take care of Santuzza if he does not return. As the duel takes place in a nearby orchard, Mamma Lucia and Santuzza wait anxiously. Blood-curdling shouts are heard in the distance. A woman stumbles in, crying “Turiddu has been killed”.