Cover to Cast Recording

Cavalleria Rusticana

Music by Pietro Mascagni
Libretto by G. Targioni-Tozzetti and G. Menasci after a story by G. Verga
English translations by either Frederic Weatherly or Tom Hammond


(Sicily; late 19th century)

It is Easter Day in a Sicilian village and the townsfolk are gathering at the Church for Mass.

Santuzza is trying to discover from Lucia the whereabouts of Turiddu, her former lover, who has now deserted her for Lola. Lucia tells Santuzza that Turiddu is away buying wine but Santuzza knows differently and tells Lucia about her son's secret liaisons with Lola.

Before he left to serve in the army, Turiddu was in love with Lola but, unable to wait for his return, she married Alfio. With Lola unavailable, Turiddu turned his attentions to Santuzza until the jealous Lola lured him back to her. When Santuzza accuse Turiddu of infidelity, he denies it.

They quarrel violently and Santuzza is hurled to the ground as Turiddu angrily rushes past her into the Church. In her fury, Santuzza tells Alfio of Lola's deception, realising too late the consequences of her words. Without delay Alfio challenges Turiddu to a duel which he accepts. Bidding farewell to his mother, he asks her to take good care of Santuzza. Shortly afterwards shouts are heard that Turiddu has been killed.



Place: A 19th-century Sicilian village. Time: Easter morning

Before the action takes place, the young villager Turiddu returned from military service to find out that his fiancée Lola had married the carter Alfio while he was away. In revenge, Turiddu seduced Santuzza, a young woman in the village. As the opera begins, Lola, overcome by her jealousy of Santuzza, has begun an adulterous affair with Turiddu.

The main square of the village

Offstage, Turiddu is heard singing a Siciliana, "O Lola c'hai di latti la cammisa" ("O Lola, you whose blouse is as white as milk", commonly rendered in English as "O Lola! like the snow, pure in thy whiteness!"). To one side is the church; to the other is Lucia's wineshop and the house where she lives with her son, Turiddu. The villagers move about the square, singing of the beautiful spring day, "Gli aranci olezzano sui verdi margini" (literally, "Oranges smell good on the green edges", rendered as "The air is sweet with orange blossoms" in the English libretto) and a hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some villagers enter the church, and others wander off still singing.

Santuzza, having slept with Turiddu and suspecting that he has betrayed her for Lola, is distraught and approaches Lucia as she comes out of her house. Santuzza asks for Turiddu, but Lucia replies that he has gone to another town to fetch some wine. Santuzza tells her that he was seen during the night in the village. Lucia asks her inside to talk, but just at that moment Alfio arrives on his wagon, accompanied by the villagers. He praises the joys of a teamster's life and the beauty of Lola his bride. Alfio asks Lucia for some of her fine old wine. She tells him it has run out and Turiddu has gone away to buy more. Alfio replies that he had seen Turiddu early that morning near his cottage. Lucia starts to express surprise, but Santuzza stops her.

Alfio leaves. The choir inside the church is heard singing the "Regina coeli". Outside, the villagers sing an Easter Hymn, "Inneggiamo, il Signor non è morto" ("We rejoice that our Saviour is living!") joined by Santuzza. The villagers enter the church, while Santuzza and Lucia remain outside. Lucia asks Santuzza why she signalled her to remain silent when Alfio said that he had seen Turiddu that morning. Santuzza exclaims, "Voi lo sapete" ("You well know") and tells Lucia the story of her seduction by Turiddu and his affair with Lola. Lucia pities Santuzza, who feels dishonoured, having been seduced by Turiddu only to be abandoned by him for his old flame, Lola. Santuzza feels she cannot enter the church but begs Lucia to go inside herself and pray for Santuzza who stays behind to try to plead with Turiddu to leave Lola and return to her. Santuzza pleads with Turiddu that he does not go to meet Lola again.

Turiddu arrives. Santuzza upbraids him for pretending to have gone away, when he was actually seeing Lola. Lola enters the square singing. She mocks Santuzza and goes inside the church. Turiddu turns to follow Lola, but Santuzza begs him to stay. Turiddu pushes her away. She clings to him. He loosens her hands, throws her to the ground, and enters the church. Alfio arrives looking for Lola. Santuzza tells him that his wife has betrayed him with Turiddu. Alfio swears to take vendetta (revenge) which causes Santuzza to repent for having disclosed the affair and begs Alfio to stop, but to no avail.

The square is empty as the orchestra plays the famous Intermezzo.

The villagers come out of the church. Turiddu is in high spirits because he is with Lola and Santuzza appears to have gone. He invites his friends to his mother's wine-shop where he sings a drinking song, "Viva, il vino spumeggiante" ("Hail to the bubbling wine!"). Alfio joins them. Turiddu offers him wine, but he refuses it. All understand that trouble is in the air. The women leave, taking Lola with them. In a brief exchange of words, Alfio challenges Turiddu to a duel. Following Sicilian custom, the two men embrace, and Turiddu, in a token of acceptance, bites Alfio's ear, drawing blood which signifies a fight to the death. Alfio leaves and Turiddu calls Lucia back. He tells her that he is going outside to get some air and asks that she be a kindly mother to Santuzza if he should not return: "Un bacio, mamma! Un altro bacio!—Addio!" ("One kiss, mother! One more kiss! – Farewell!").

Principal characters (plus Chorus)

Santuzza (a Village Girl)
Turiddu (her Former Lover)
Lucia (his Mother)
Alfio (a Carrier)
Lola (his Wife)

Principal Musical Numbers

Easter Hymn (Santuzza, Lucia, Chorus)
Voi Lo Sapete (Santuzza)
Ah! Lo Vedi (Santuzza, Turiddu)
Intermezzo (Orchestra)


2 Piccolos ; 2 Flutes ; 2 Oboes ; 2 Clarinets ; 2 Bassoons ; 4 Horns ; 2 Trumpets ; 3 Trombones ; 1 Tuba ; 1 Timpani ; 3 Percussion ; 3 Harps (1 on-stage) ; 1 Bells ; 1 Organ Strings ; 1 Full Score