Cover image for Pietro Mascagni and his operas
Pietro Mascagni and his operas
Mallach, Alan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Northeastern University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvi, 378 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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ML410.M393 M25 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) was a dazzling and influential figure in italian opera during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Just 26 when the electric premiere of his Cavalleria Rusticana at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome catapulted the impoverished musician into sudden fame and fortune, Mascagni went on to write 15 more operas, including L'Amico Fritz, Guglielmo Ratcliff, Iris, Parisina, and Il Piccolo Marat.

Author Notes

Alan Mallach is a pianist, composer, and independent scholar. He has written numerous articles and commentaries on opera for such publications as Opera Quarterly and Nuova Rivista Musical Italiana. He lives in Roosevelt, New Jersey.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The first serious English-language biography of the influential Italian opera composer (1863-1945), Pietro Mascagni and His Operas traces the career of this flamboyant figure of fascist-era Italian culture. Author Alan Mallach, a pianist, composer and independent scholar, makes a case for the maestro's lesser-known operas, such as L'Amico Fritz, Guglielmo Ratcliff, Iris, Parisina and Il Piccolo Marat. He also documents Mascagni's talent for alienating everyone in his life, from his long-time mistress to Il Duce himself. The book includes a useful discography skewed toward recent recordings of Mascagni's works. While the book might be a little too insider for readers new to opera, enthusiasts will surely take notice. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Opera scholar Mallach fills a gap in the musical literature with this welcome discourse on Italian composer Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945), now chiefly remembered for his 1890 opera Cavalleria Rusticana. Drawing on the composer's correspondence as well as family reminiscences, contemporary reviews, European archives, and secondary sources, the author creates a vivid portrait of a creative artist. Within a chronological framework, he explores Mascagni's experiences as a student at the Milan conservatory and teacher at the Liceo Rossini in Pesaro, work as a traveling conductor, tours of the United States and Argentina, political affiliations ranging from Bolshevik to Fascist, struggles with bipolar disorder, and relationship with Anna Lolli under the gaze of his long-suffering wife, Lina. Mallach addresses each opera, providing historical context, synopses, character descriptions, and musical analysis accessible to the lay reader. The useful appendixes include a list of first performances and a selective discography. The only drawbacks are some inconsistencies and a tendency toward overstatement. Recommended where interest warrants and as a complement to Mascagni, an autobiography ably translated and edited by the late Metropolitan Opera chorus master David Stivender. Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Although Mascagni composed an additional 15 operas, the first, Cavalleria Rusticana, written in his 26th year and debuted in 1890, established his fame. Despite the beautifully constructed cantabiles of L'Amico Fritz and the furious energy of Il Piccolo Marat, Mascagni lived constantly under the shadow of Cavalleria. Its sensational impact propelled Mascagni to eventual ascendancy as Italy's foremost musician during the turbulent years of pre- and post-WW II Italy. He was directly involved in the social-political upheavals of the first half of the 20th century. He attempted to uphold the lyrical tradition of Italian opera against German and modern tendencies. Mallach based much of his thorough research on 4,200 letters from Mascagni to his mistress, Anna Lolli, letters that detail the composer's personal life and professional triumphs and failures. Other important contributions to Mascagni research include Roger Flury's bio-bibliography Pietro Mascagni (CH, Jul'01), with its 100-page discography, and David Stivender's Mascagni: An Autobiography Compiled, Edited, and Translated from Original Sources (CH, May'89). Writing in accessible prose, Mallach introduces new material in a scholarly, entertaining manner. For libraries serving undergraduates, general readers, and professional musicians. R. Miller Oberlin College