Marek Janowski and the Dresdner Philharmonie present a new recording of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, the verismo opera par excellence. Mascagni’s debut opera turned him into an overnight world star and continues to captivate listeners today.
Even if the depiction of simple village folk and the direct emotional appeal of Cavalleria Rusticana were initially greeted as a welcome alternative to the gods, intellectual pretenses and dense orchestral textures of Wagner, Mascagni’s score, in fact, has many more symphonic qualities than is usually acknowledged.
Marek Janowski, a champion of Wagnerian opera and German symphonic music is the ideal candidate to demonstrate those qualities. He does this together with the Dresdner Philharmonic, the MDR Leipzig Radio Choir and a cast of outstanding vocal soloists, including Melody Moore as Santuzza, Brian Jagde as Turridu and Lester Lynch in the role of Alfio. Marek Janowski is one of the most celebrated conductors of our times and enjoys a vast discography.
This recording is the first in a series with the Dresdner Philharmonie, where Janowski currently serves as chief conductor. Melody Moore and Lester Lynch both have been featured on several releases, including Verdi’s Othello (2017). Brian Jagde is one of today’s rising opera tenor stars and makes his Pentatone debut on this album.
On 4 February 1891, Cosima Wagner wrote to Houston Stewart Chamberlain from Berlin:"... what I experienced here – Cavalleria Rusticana – disgusted me." How was she supposed to like what penetrated her own deepest wounds (in the 1860s, she had betrayed and eventually abandoned her husband, conductor and pianist Hans vonBülow, through her love affair with Richard Wagner)?
On top of that, it was presented with a garish, downright overpowering directness that Frau Wagner had never experienced from her husband, who himself wasn't frugal when it comes to expressing the torments of the soul? An expert who is as astute as he is eloquent explains:"Mascagni has once again honored aright and healthy attitude against the false, unhealthy principle of Wagner's style: Mascagni has demonstrated that without melody there is no music and that without sung melody there is no opera.