Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana (Live)
Italian maestro Riccardo Muti is in his element here, inspiring his musicians in this absorbing performance of one of the great verismo operas. Mascagni’s celebrated one-acter (one-half of the opera double-bill “Cav and Pag,” the other being Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci) tells the story of a Sicilian village girl (Santuzza) who exacts revenge on her ex-lover (Turiddu) by telling Alfio that Turiddu is having an affair with his wife. Driven half-insane with jealousy, Alfio kills Turiddu in a duel. In this live concert performance, recorded in February 2020, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays for Muti with devoted eloquence, reminding us in the celebrated “Intermezzo” that much of this score is surprisingly quiet, while holding something in reserve for the explosively vengeful final bars. Piero Pretti’s radiant tenor ensures our sympathies remain with Alfio, crushed between Anita Rachvelishvili’s hopelessly besotted Santuzza and Luca Salsi’s gloriously earthy Turiddu.