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Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) is one of the main examples of Italian realism. It was both a blessing and a curse for Mascagni. It's success which never came again weighed upon the composer all his life. Based on Verga's play of the same name, the libretto by Targioni-Tozzetti runs as follows: Lola and Turiddu had been lovers, but when Turiddu went away to battle Lola married Alfio. When Turiddu returned, he and Lola continued their affair secretly, while he tried to make Lola jealous by starting a casual affair with Santuzza, who fell in love with him. On Easter Sunday Santuzza, realising the affair, goes to see Turiddu's mother, Lucia, who keeps a tavern in the village. She is horrified to learn of her son's infidelity and leaves for the church, just missing Turiddu who saunters in, thinking of his night with Lola. He is surprised and annoyed to find Santuzza there and the two begin to quarrel. Lola makes things worse by appearing and taunting Santuzza. Turiddu finally hits Santuzza and escapes. Santuzza tells Alfio of the illicit affair, whereupon Alfio flies into a rage and swears that he will avenge himself – the code of honour requires Turiddu's blood to be shed. Matching with tradition, he refuses a glass of wine from Turiddu, indicating the disagreement, and the two plan to fight. Rushing into the tavern, Turiddu asks his mother her to take care of Santuzza. Mamma Lucia is alarmed, and as he rushes off, Santuzza enters and throws her arms around Lucia's neck, just as a woman screams that Turiddu has been killed.
This is the Schirmer edition of the Libretto, in the original Italian with an English translation by Joseph Machlis.
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