The generation of the 80s
At the end of 19th century it became clear that the style used in opera until 1890s couldn’t be used any more: the great social and cultural changes demanded new ways to express and increase the dramatic tension.
The music coming from abroad (oltr’alpe-beyond the Alps) was becoming increasingly important.
The new younger generation of composers, such as Puccini and Mascagni, where influenced not only by Wagner but also by younger composers such as Claude Debussy and Richard Strauss. Pelléas et Melisande premiered in 1902, Salome (1905) and Electra (1909), Strauss’s two breaking through operas, had a rapid success.
Change demanded from older composers a conscious and radical effort while for those born after 1875 and used to the new music as part of their musical landscape, the transition to new ways of composing operas was more spontaneous, although different in nature and magnitude for each composer.
Some composer intended their relationship with nineteenth-century Italian opera as “evolutionary” and continued to work within the traditional framework using at times new techniques and dramatic themes. Others felt that Italian music needed to break free from an opera that had become a stale entertainment for the new middle class and that a all new type of opera was necessary.
The main exponents of this group came to be known as “the generation of the eighties”, better known today among music students rather than audience, were Ildebrando Pizzetti (1880-1968) Gian Francesco Malipiero (1882-1973) and Alfredo Casella (1883-1947).
Ildebrando Pizzetti in Fedra implemented a radical renewal of the operatic language, combining the stylistic innovations coming from northern Europe with the rediscovery of ancient Italian vocal polyphony.
Other composers worked to implement the Wagnerian ideal, such as Alberto Franchetti, Antonio Smareglia (his folk opera Nozze Istriane “The Istrian wedding” he follows Smetana’s and Dvorak’s style)
Above all Italo Montemezzi, author of L’amore dei tre re The Love of the Three Kings (1913).
Cesare Siepi, Italia è tutto il mio
These composers although cultured, sophisticated and talented musicians, only attracted a short interest and their influence on the further course of Italian opera will be very limited. They shared very little with the Verismo giovane scuola.
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