OP2589. ZANETTO (Mascagni), Live Performance, 30 July, 1986, w.Ceccanti Cond. Rita Lantieri, Ambra Vespasiani, etc; L’APOTEOSI DELLA CIGOGNA, A GIACOMO LEOPARDI & PINOTTA (all Mascagni), Live Performance, 29 Oct., 1995, w.de Caluwe Cond. Gloria Guida Borrelli & Antonio de Palma. (Italy) 2-Bongiovanni 2191/92, w.Elaborate 66pp. Libretto-Booklet. - 8007068219124
“Pietro Mascagni wrote two one-act operas: CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and ZANETTO. We know that he conducted the two together in 1902 at the old Metropolitan Opera House.
ZANETTO is only about 40 minutes long, and the plot, taken from a French play THE PASSER-BY – once a signature rôle of the great Sarah Bernhardt – has been sunnified and lightened up in an Italian style. It involves a lonely, aging courtesan (Sylvia) who has nonetheless obtained some fame and notoriety because of her great charm and beauty, lamenting the fact that true love has perhaps passed her by. Enter Zanetto, a young singer who is coming into Florence (in a renaissance-era setting), perhaps the answer to the dream that Sylvia has had of a young Florentine. He arrives and falls asleep, whereupon Sylva spots him and begins a dialog with him. Zanetto speaks of the famous courtesan Sylvia, though she never does reveal to him that she is indeed the one of whom he is speaking. Ultimately, moved by the young man and flattered over his desire to meet this famous woman, Sylvia disparages herself to him, suggesting for various reasons that he should avoid meeting this fallen woman at all costs. The boy takes her meaning, and says that he will have no intention of seeking her out, and moves on. Sylvia, happy that she is still capable of feeling pure and true love, breaks into tears at the thought of real love lost.
The composer opens the work with a masterly stroke: a wordless chorus of great beauty, and indeed the whole opera is a lyrical gem, full of wonderful moments, surely worthy of a listen by any dedicated opera fan.”
– Steven Ritter, AUDIOPHILE AUDITION
“Pietro Mascagni wrote two one-act operas: CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and ZANETTO. Only 40 minutes long and with cast of two singers, Zanetto was originally described by its composer as a scena lirica (lyric scene) rather than an opera. It is set in the countryside near Florence during the Renaissance and tells the story of an encounter between a beautiful courtesan, Silvia, and a young wandering minstrel, Zanetto. The libretto was adapted from an Italian translation by Emilio Praga of François Coppée's play LE PASSANT (The Passer-By) in which the young Sarah Bernhardt had won fame in the en travesti rôle of Zanetto. We know that Mascagni conducted the two together in 1902 at the old Metropolitan Opera House.
The work was performed throughout Italy in smaller theatres during the year following its première. It was also performed in a private performance in London by the Ravogli sisters, Sofia and Giulia in 1896. ZANETTO had its US première on 8 October 1902 at the old Metropolitan Opera House conducted by Mascagni with Elena Bianchini-Cappelli as Silvia and Eugenia Mantelli as Zanetto. As at La Scala, the reception was mixed. The New York Times critic pronounced the music as ‘sonorous, mellifluous, and melodious’ and praised the performances of Bianchini-Cappelli and Mantelli, but concluded that ‘outside of Italy, ZANETTO can never become more than a mild curtain-raiser’.”
-Zillah Dorset Akron