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This little-known setting of “Ave Maria” was written by Pietro Mascagni, an Italian late-Romantic era composer. He was primarily a composer of operas, but he also has several orchestral and choral works to his credit. His works marked a change in the musicality of opera, mainly the shift from recitative (the spoken words of an opera) to completely sung passages that would not be considered arias.
Mascagni single-handedly ushered in the Verismo movement — which shifted the subject matter of opera from gods, mythological figures, and royalty to naturalistic themes of the average contemporary man and woman and their problems. An excellent example of a Verismo opera is “La Boheme,” by Puccini, who was a contemporary and friend of Mascagni.
Elīna Garanča is a mezzo-soprano from Latvia. In 1999, she won the Mirjam Helin Singing Competition in Helsinki, which led to her international breakthrough in 2003 after performing at the Salzbuger Festspiele. Since then, she has received many major roles in some of the best-known opera houses, such as The Vienna State Opera and the Met. Her voice is perfectly suited to the Romantic style, which often exhibited strong, colorful voices.
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