St Petersburg, Mariinsky II

Cavalleria rusticana

opera by Pietro Mascagni

Performed in Italian (the performance will have synchronised Russian supertitles)



Music by Pietro Mascagni
Libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci after the eponymous novella by Giovanni Verga

Musical Director: Valery Gergiev
Stage Director and Lighting Designer: Arnaud Bernard
Costume Designer: Arnaud Bernard, Marianna Stranska
Musical Preparation: Alla Brosterman
Chorus Masters: Nikita Gribanov, Konstantin Rylov

The production uses sets designed by Camille Dugas for the opera I vespri siciliani (Mariinsky Theatre, 2017) is a gift of Veronica Atkins


A Sicilian village on Easter Sunday

The people are gathering to celebrate Easter mass at church. The peasant girl Santuzza appears, tormented by jealous doubts that her fiancé Turiddu has been unfaithful to her and is once again seeing his former love, the coquette Lola who is now Alfio's wife. She asks Lucia, Turiddu's mother, where her fiancé is; Lucia responds that he has gone to the next village to fetch wine. Their conversation is interrupted by the boisterous appearance of the merry Alfio singing a passionate song. Alfio mentions in passing that he has just seen Turiddu near his own house, which heightens Santuzza's suspicions even more. She entrusts her fears to Lucia when Alfio departs. The girl's words reveal that Turiddu was once passionately in love with Lola and wished to marry her, but was forced to leave the village and enlist in the army; when he returned and found his darling already married to Alfio, he initially sank into melancholy, though gradually he developed a fondness for Santuzza and proposed to her; not knowing this, Lola employed every trick at hand to attract Turiddu once more. Lucia, devastated at such news, goes to church while Santuzza waits for Turiddu, determined to make him admit everything. Turiddu appears. Santuzza immediately begins to interrogate him jealously; he dissembles, gives evasive answers and lies. At the height of their argument, Lola appears and, singing a melody, flirts ironically with Turiddu. The women exchange caustic remarks. Lola goes off to church. The scene eventually confirms all of Santuzza's suspicions. She starts on her betrothed again and he, losing his self-control, pushes her aside and follows Lola to church. In utter despair, the girl resolves on revenge. Fate itself has decreed that she should meet Alfio, to whom she reveals his wife's unfaithfulness with Turiddu. Alfio's merriment becomes instantly transformed into an explosion of fiery wrath. Desperate for revenge, he and Santuzza leave together. Mass has by now ended. A group of men and women are gathered around the inn drinking wine. Turiddu and Lola are among them. There is a sense of joy and song and laughter. Alfio appears. Turiddu pours out some wine and offers Alfio a drink, which the latter rudely declines. The women, sensing a quarrel brewing, make themselves scarce. The rivals understand one another – a fight between them is now inevitable. According to Sicilian custom, they embrace, Turiddu moreover biting Alfio's ear. All depart. Turiddu calls on his mother and tells her that he is not himself and wishes to take a little walk. He asks her to bless him and that – should any disaster befall him – Santuzza not be left alone. Turiddu takes leave of his mother, kisses her and quickly departs. Lucia is shocked by her son's strange look and some curious presentiment of foreboding torments her. In alarm, she calls on Santuzza. In the distance, a great commotion can be heard, the voices coming closer and closer. Several women run in with the terrible news that Turiddu has been murdered. Santuzza and Lucia both collapse. All are shocked.


The young composer Mascagni's debut opera brought him international acclaim and emerged as an emblem of Italian verismo. Cavalleria rusticana was written for a competition of one-act operas organised by the Milanese publisher Edoardo Sonzogno. The libretto is based on the eponymous short story by Sicilian author Giovanni Verga which features "little" people who are torn apart by grand passions. Mascagni's compact masterpiece with its small cast is one of the most frequently performed operas. At the Mariinsky Theatre, however, it was last staged in Imperial times (at the premiere in 1893, the roles of Santuzza and Turiddu were sung by the Figner husband-and-wife team).

This summer, Mariinsky Theatre singers performed Cavalleria rusticana in concert in St Petersburg, Moscow and Vladivostok. Then, the role of Santuzza was performed by Ekaterina Semenchuk (the singer refined this role in productions at the Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Opera) and that of Turiddu by Najmiddin Mavlyanov. The premiere of the new production at the Mariinsky Theatre is being rehearsed by several casts. In the first performances, as well as Ekaterina Semenchuk, it will be possible to see Yulia Matochkina and Tatiana Serjan as Santuzza. The lead tenor role is being undertaken by Akhmed Agadi, Yevgeny Akimov and Mikhail Vekua. The image of the jealous Alfio is to be portrayed by Roman Burdenko, Alexei Markov, Vladislav Sulimsky and Vladislav Kupriyanov.

The production is being rehearsed by French director Arnaud Bernard who has also created epic and "cinematic" versions of Verdi's I vespri siciliani and Puccini's La fanciulla del West. Valery Gergiev is the new production's music director and conductor.

World premiere: 17 May 1890, Teatro Costanzi, Rome
Premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre: 18 January 1893 (in Russian, translation by Mikhail Ivanov and Nikolai Spassky)
Production premiere: 25 November 2020

Running time: 1 hour 10 minutes
The performance without an interval

Age category 12+

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