Pietro Mascagni (Livorno December 7, 1863 - Rome August 2, 1945) is one of the most important Italian opera composers of the turn of the 20th century. The formidable success of his first masterpiece in 1890, Cavalleria Rusticana, unfortunately eluded many of his following works. Mascagni however wrote 15 operas, an operetta, several beautiful orchestral and vocal works, as well as songs and piano music. He enjoyed amazing operatic successes during his lifetime, and at the same time pursued a very successful career as a conductor. Mascagni's approach to opera differed greatly from that of his friend and rival Puccini -- arguably one of the reasons why critics underestimated the value of his music.
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