This first in-depth and objective biography of Mascagni charts the course of his intriguing life and career. With privileged access to extensive primary sources, including Mascagni's 4,200 letters to Anna Lolli, his mistress for more than three decades, Alan Mallach provides a compelling portrait of a flamboyant, combative, and emotional man who was passionately devoted to the Italian opera tradition and committed to innovation in musical language and dramatic form.
Deftly combining serious biography with critical commentary, Mallach begins with the captivating story of Mascagni's rags-to-riches adventure, from his birth in Livorno in Tuscany, to his musical studies first with Alfredo Soffredini and later at the Milan Conservatory, to his years as a vagabond musician, to the worldwide success of his breakthrough opera. He then traces Mascagni's private and professional life after Cavalleria, examining a prolific yet controversial career that was forever overshadowed by the work that unexpectedly thrust him into the limelight. Mallach provides a full analysis of Mascagni's oeuvre and discusses his complex relationships with such Italian cultural and political figures as Edoardo Sonzogno, Giacomo Puccini, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Luigi Illica, and Benito Mussolini. He also thoroughly chronicles Mascagni's bouts with manic depression, his marriage to Lina and devotion to their three children, his grueling schedule of concert and operatic tours, his patriotism and bitter opposition to Italy's involvement in both world wars, and his passionate love affair with Anna Lolli.
This richly textured biography will appeal to fans of the still beloved and popular Cavalleria, and it will introduce opera enthusiasts to the power, intensity, and melodic beauty of the brilliant composer's many other significant works.