Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) to an Italian libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, adapted from an 1880 short story of the same name and subsequent play by Giovanni Verga. Considered one of the classic verismo operas, it premiered on 17 May 1890 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome.
Mascagni, born in Livorno, composed 2 operas prior to Cavalleria Rusticana, Pinotta in 1880 and Guglielmo Ratcliff in 1885. After his dismissal from the Milan Conservatory in 1884 for his lack of application, he endured six years of poverty and obscurity touring as a conductor, then teaching and conducting in Cerignola.
Here, in 1889, he heard of a competition sponsored by the music publisher Sonzogno offering a prize for the best one-act opera to be submitted. Mascagni took a story, a passionate love tragedy that takes place on Easter morning, by the Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga.
It took Mascagni two months to compose. Then, when the time came for him to submit the score, his courage deserted him. Fearing failure he put the music in a drawer, where it might have remained had it not been for his wife who sent it off.
Cavalleria Rusticana, with its stirring melodies, including the famous Easter Hymn, and tightly constructed plot was unanimously voted the competition winner. On May 17 1890, it had its premiere in Rome, It received no less than 60 curtain calls. In less than a year it had been performed all over Europe.
Synopsis of Voi lo sapete
Santuzza tells Mamma Lucia that when her son left to join the Army, he promised to marry Lola. When he came back, however, Lola had married someone else. So, he fell in love with Santuzza which made Lola so jealous that she has stolen him away from Santuzza.
Voi lo sapete, o mamma, You know, mamma, that
Prima d'andar soldato, Before he went off to be a soldier
Turiddu aveva a Lola Turiddu swore to Lola
Eterna fè giurato. To be eternally faithful
Tornò, la seppe sposa; He returned to find her married;
E con un nuovo amore And with a new love
Volle spegner la fiamma He wanted to extinguish the flame
Che gli bruciava il core: That burnt in his heart:
M'amò, l'amai. He loved me, I loved him.
Quell'invidia d'ogni delizia She, envious of my happiness,
Del suo sposo dimentica, Forgotten by her husband,
Arse di gelosia... Burning with jealousy,
Me l'ha rapito... She stole him from me.
Priva dell'onor mio rimango: I am left, dishonoured:
Lola e Turiddu s'amano, Lola and Turiddu love each other,
Io piango, io piango! And I weep!