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.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.