Adapting from a Verga play about rustic chivalry, Pietro Mascagni wrote a little one-act opera in 1890 within which was stored this gem of a tune. Two years previously, an enterprising Milanese music publisher and agent announced a competition for unknown composers to submit their one-act operas which would be judged and the three winners performed out of the publisher's pocket. Despite hearing about it late in the day, Pietro hurried together his composition and managed to get it submitted on the very last day entries were being accepted. Lucky for us, he won.
He went on to write others, but none have the touching appeal of this work, perhaps because of the fact that the composer was undoubtedly focussed on the task at hand due to the lack of time he had to deal with it. It was and remains a phenomenally successful staging, but without any doubt the part most recoignisable is the Intermezzo section featured here, which the composer thought of as his masterpiece. Weepy in only the way that Italians can be weepy, it is played in the production to an empty stage following a spate of revelations about illicit seduction, betrayal, begging and someone being thrown to the ground. It's all here, folks.
Those less enchanted with the miserable world of Italians of the 19th Century might be better acquainted with this tune as the theme to Raging Bull, which is another tale of miserable Italians, just a few years later. Got to love them, don't you?
Instrumentation: Mellotron M400 and MkV Playing
FLAC version here.