Le maschere

Le maschere (The Masks) is an opera in a Prologue and three acts by Pietro Mascagni to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica.

Le maschere
Opera by Pietro Mascagni
Souvenir postcard for the premiere
LibrettistLuigi Illica
17 January 1901 (1901-01-17)
La Scala, Milan, and five other opera houses in Italy

The work was Mascagni's homage to Rossini and to the Italian opera buffa and commedia dell'arte traditions. It was premiered simultaneously in six Italian opera houses on 17 January 1901: La Scala (with Caruso as Florindo, Carelli as Rosaura, and Toscanini conducting); the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa; the Teatro Regio in Turin; the Teatro Costanzi in Rome; La Fenice in Venice; and the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona. Two days later, it premiered at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples.

Apart from the performance in Rome, conducted by Mascagni himself, Le maschere received a dismal reception, with the performance in Genoa suspended halfway through because of the audience's vociferous expressions of displeasure. The opera was sporadically performed in Italy over the next four years and then sank into obscurity. When Mascagni revised and represented the opera in 1931 it met with little lasting success. However, sporadic revivals in the late 20th century have been greeted with some critical interest.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast at La Fenice
17 January 1901[1]
(Conductor: - )
Rosaura soprano Maria Farneti
Arlecchino Battocchio tenor E. Giordani
Colombina soprano M.a Fiori
Il Capitan Spaventa baritone Nestore della Torre
Brighella tenor Augusto Balboni
Dottor Graziano baritone Felice Foglia
Pantalone De' Bisognosi bass Ruggero Galli
Florindo tenor Elvino Ventura
Tartaglia baritone Giovanni Bellucci
Giocadio spoken Carlo Duse


In the Prologue, a travelling commedia dell'arte troupe and their impresario present the characters they are about to play. The remaining three acts are the play itself wherein after many vicissitudes, Florindo and Rosaura, aided by Columbina and Arlecchino, manage to prevent the marriage which Rosaura's father, Pantalone, had planned for her.


The only frequently encountered aria is "Quella è una strada", a humorous aria sung - with much stuttering - by Tartaglia.


Mascagni: Le Maschere (Maria Josè Gallego, Vincenzo La Scola, Amelia Felle, Giuseppe Sabbatini, et al.; Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna). Conductor: Gianluigi Gelmetti. Ricordi / Fonit Cetra RFCD 2004

Mascagni: Le Maschere (Antonio Cassinelli, Cesy Broggini, Ferrando Rizzieri, Amedeo Berdini, Afro Poli.) Conductor Bruno Bartoletti. Trieste, 1961. Gala GL 100.731




  • Flury, Roger, Pietro Mascagni: A Bio-Bibliography, Greenwood Press, 2001. (ISBN 0313296626)
  • Mallach, Alan, Pietro Mascagni and His Operas, UPNE, 2002. (ISBN 1555535240)
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