Cavalleria rusticana
PREMIERE5/17/1890 — Teatro Costanzi (Rome)
COMPOSERPietro Mascagni   
LIBRETTISTSGiovanni Targioni-Tozzetti   Guido Menasci   
Opera in one act.

Late nineteenth century in a Sicilian village.

It is Easter Sunday. Turiddu, a feckless and irresponsible man, has recently returned from the army. He sings a serenade to his lover, Lola -- clearly, he has spent the night with her. She is married to Alfio, a powerful and important man in the village who runs its carting and haulage business. In great agitation, Santuzza, Turiddu’s former girlfriend, comes looking for him at the tavern of his mother, Mamma Lucia. Alfio enters with his companions, bringing wine and gifts for Easter from the surrounding towns. He sings the song of the carter, expressing his great pleasure to be back with his faithful wife. An Easter procession comes by and enters the church. Santuzza cannot go into the church with the rest of the village because she is expecting Turiddu’s child. She reveals to Lucia that Turiddu has abandoned her and gone back to Lola. Santuzza asks Lucia to pray for her, and Lucia goes into the church.

When Turiddu arrives, Santuzza confronts him. He claims to have been in a nearby village buying wine for Lucia, but Santuzza replies that he was seen near Lola’s house. She reproaches him for deserting her. He denies being in love with Lola and tells Santuzza to be silent lest her accusations reach Alfio, who would certainly kill him. Terrified, Santuzza says she will forgive him if he will return to her.

Lola enters the square gaily singing, and cruelly mocks Santuzza before entering the church. Turiddu starts to follow, but Santuzza begs him to stay with her. As she curses him, he strikes her and rushes into the church. When Alfio appears, Santuzza reveals that Lola and Turiddu are lovers. Alfio’s initial disbelief turns to rage. He swears vengeance and departs.

When the townspeople emerge from church, Turiddu invites everyone for a glass of wine at his mother’s inn. Alfio violently rejects the wine. As the women lead Lola away, her husband challenges Turiddu to a duel and goes off to await him behind the orchard. Turiddu bids his mother farewell, begging her to care for Santuzza should he not return. As the tension mounts, the square fills with people. Suddenly a villager shouts that Turiddu has been killed.

Courtesy of Houston Grand Opera
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