is an opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...
in three acts by Pietro Mascagni
Pietro Antonio Stefano Mascagni was an Italian composer most noted for his operas. His 1890 masterpiece Cavalleria rusticana caused one of the greatest sensations in opera history and single-handedly ushered in the Verismo movement in Italian dramatic music...
to an original Italian libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...
by Luigi Illica
Luigi Illica was an Italian librettist who wrote for Giacomo Puccini , Alfredo Catalani, Umberto Giordano, Baron Alberto Franchetti and other important Italian composers. His most famous opera librettos are those for La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Andrea Chénier.Illica was born at...
. Its first performance was at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...
on 22 November 1898.
The opera is through-composed and set in Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...
during legendary times. (Mascagni's colleague and former roommate, Puccini
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire...
, was present at the premiere; it is far from coincidental that his opera, Madama Butterfly
Madama Butterfly is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Puccini based his opera in part on the short story "Madame Butterfly" by John Luther Long, which was dramatized by David Belasco...
, first presented in 1904 was also set in Japan. Puccini much admired the music, in particular Mascagni's orchestration, if not the drama: see Carner.)
In common with all of Mascagni's full-length operas, Iris
is now rarely performed, even in Italy, although along with L'Amico Fritz
it remains one of the composer's more performed operas. Two of the opera's most memorable numbers are the tenor's serenade ("Apri la tua finestra") and the Hymn to the Sun ("Inno al Sole").
The so-called "aria della piovra" ("Octopus aria"), "Un dì, ero piccina", where Iris describes a screen she had seen in a Buddhist temple when she was a child, depicting an octopus coiling with its tentacles around a young woman, may have been inspired by the print "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife
, also known as Girl Diver and Octopi, Diver and Two Octopi, etc., is an erotic woodcut of the ukiyo-e genre by the Japanese artist Hokusai. It is from the book Kinoe no Komatsu , a three-volume collection of shunga erotic prints first published in 1814, and is the most famous shunga Hokusai ever...
" (1814) by the Japanese artist Hokusai
was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. He was influenced by such painters as Sesshu, and other styles of Chinese painting...
||Premiere Cast, 22 November 1898
(Conductor: Pietro Mascagni)
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...
Hariclea Darclée was a celebrated Romanian operatic soprano. She possessed an agile, powerful, and beautiful voice that was wielded with a fine technique. An extremely beautiful woman, Darclée's stage presence was as elegant and refined as her singing...
||Giuseppe Tisci Rubini
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...
|Fernando De Lucia
Fernando De Lucia was an Italian opera tenor and singing teacher who enjoyed an international career....
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...
||Ernestina Tilde Milanesi
| Chorus: shopkeepers, geishas, laundry girls, samurai, citizens