Cavalleria rusticana (Intermezzo)

Lim Kek-tjiang conducts the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra

Cavalleria rusticana is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni to an Italian libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, adapted from a play and short story written by Giovanni Verga. Considered one of the classic verismo operas, it premiered on 17 May 1890, at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome.

The opera’s symphonic Intermezzo has figured in the sound track of several films, most notably in the opening of Raging Bull and in the finale of The Godfather Part III, the latter of which featured a performance of the opera as a key part of the film’s climax.

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Lascia ch’io pianga

Let me weep
my cruel fate,
and sigh for liberty.
May sorrow break these chains
Of my sufferings, for pity’s sake

Sung here by Patricia Petibon

Lascia ch’io pianga is a soprano aria by composer George Frideric Handel which has become a popular concert piece. The melody for the song began its life as an Asian dance in his 1705 opera Almira. As an aria the piece was first used in Handel’s 1707 oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno; albeit with a different text and name, “Lascia la spina”. Handel later recycled the work for his 1711 opera Rinaldo, giving the aria to the character Almirena (portrayed by soprano Isabella Girardeau in the opera’s premiere) in Act II. Rinaldo was a major triumph for Handel, and it is with this work that the aria is chiefly associated. The aria has been recorded by numerous artists on record and CD, and is featured in several films including FarinelliAll Things Fair by Bo WiderbergL.I.E. by Michael Cuesta and Antichrist by Lars von Trier.