Cavalleria rusticana, Mascagni's passionate tale of jealousy, sex, love, and family, was premiered on 17 May 1890 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome after having won first place in Sonzogno's competition for one-act operas. In addition to the most luxurious and flamboyant passages made famous in popular culture, Bärenreiter's new edition of the opera illuminates Mascagni's subtle attention to details of harmony, dynamics, and articulation. While the opera unfolds seamlessly and inexorably to its dramatic conclusion, Mascagni's autograph score, by contrast, reveals the labor behind the masterpiece. The composer, in collaboration with conductor Leopoldo Mugnone (who later also conducted the first performances of Puccini's Tosca), made many changes, including cuts, transpositions, and substitutions, mainly of repeated choral sections and instrumental transitions. Alterations appear in all but the two instrumental pieces of the opera, the Preludio and the Intemezzo (N. 6), and there is much beautiful music to be discovered. Of special interest is the cut in N. 4, which reveals that Mascagni offered alternative endings to Santuzza's Romanza. Unknown is the version that contains an instrumental postlude and cadence that allows for applause. Mascagni's instructions for executing the alternative ending may be seen both above and below the staff in measure 8: „Per terminare la Romanza si ometta questa Battuta. Altrimenti si continui, attaccando al segno.“ Another intriguing segment that was eliminated is in the Finale (N. 8), where a brief and closely voiced chromatic interlude for two bassoons allows Alfio and Turiddu to eye each other silently just before their volatile encounter.
The new edition will include an appendix with all of the cuts, in their original keys, shedding light on Mascagni's compositional process and providing an opportunity to reconstruct and perform the work as it was originally conceived.
These previously unpublished passages are available since 1st January 2016 upon request. The new edition of the complete work edited by Helen Greenwald is in preparation.
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