The Easter Hymn in Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni

Traditional Easter Hymns are not part of the classical opera repertoire. However, the opera Cavalleria Rusticana does include and an opera song, which is one from among favourite Easter Hymns. Additionally, the Richard Wagner Parsifal opera includes a passing reference to Easter – although, no specific Easter Hymns or Easter songs.

Certainly, an opera performance is an opportunity to listen and enjoy opera music. The Cavalleria Rusticana opera is a one act opera that includes several famous opera songs including the performance of an Easter Hymn – first, in the classical church Latin and, then followed by the vernacular Italian.

A translation of the eastern Hymn is included as you listen to opera as performed by an opera singer and choir.


Read to Discover the Opera Easter Hymn


What is Easter and Why Do We Celebrate It?

Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Saviour. The Feast of Easter is celebrated in the spring. For Christians, Easter is the feast that coincides with the rebirth of nature and the annunciation of everlasting life.

The word “hymn” is of Greek origin and means “a song of praise”. In the Christian world, hymns are songs that are sung in prayer while glorifying God and asking for His help and support. Since Easter is the most important feast of the Christian world, it is fitting that there are many hymns specifically created for the celebration of Easter.

Easter morning and Easter day are joyous. It is a time to celebrate rebirth and everlasting life.

How We Celebrate Easter in Ukraine
How We Celebrate Easter in Ukraine


Are there any Easter Opera Songs?

Cavalleria Rusticana is the only opera regularly performed in opera houses around the world that takes place at Easter time. Yes, Easter is mentioned in the opera Parsifal by Richard Wagner (1813-1883), but it is not central to the opera plot.

In Cavalleria Rusticana, events begin on Easter morning – joyously as befits the joyous characteristics of the day. The opera also ends on Easter Day – but, tragically.

The famous opera repertoire does not really include Easter as a theme. Hence, there is only one opera, Cavalleria Rusticana, that includes a memorable opera song – an Easter Hymn.

Easter Hymn at the Lviv Opera House
Easter Hymn at the Lviv Opera House


Are there Memorable Performances of Mascagni’s Easter Hymn?

As Santuzza sings the words of the Easter Hymn, the bearers enter with a statue of the Resurrected Christ. In the opera performance below, the villagers and townspeople join Santuzza in proclaiming Christ’s Resurrection. Listen to opera and view an opera performance.

The Easter Hymn from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana composed by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) and lyrics by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti (1863-1934) and Guido Menasci (1867-1925) was performed at the Lviv Opera House.

The soprano role of Santuzza is performed by Lyudmyla Savchuk. Staging for this production was done by Italian born Giuseppe Visciglia. The Easter Hymn performance is conducted by Myron Yusypovych.


What are the Easter Hymn Lyrics?

As the Easter morning church service is beginning, the Easter Hymn can be heard off-stage. The Easter Hymn begins with the sound of the organ. The organ is a traditional musical instrument in Roman Catholic Churches around the world. The Easter Hymn sung inside the church is performed in Latin.

The villagers, townspeople and Santuzza are outside the church in the village square. They participate in the Easter Hymn. The villagers and townspeople declare the Resurrection of Christ and perform the Easter Hymn lyrics in their native Italian.

Italian original English translation
Inneggiamo, il Signor non è morto. Rejoice, the Lord is not dead
Ei fulgente ha dischiuso l'avel, And, we mourn no longer
inneggiamo al Signore risorto Instead, we exalt the risen Lord
oggi asceso alla gloria del Ciel! For, today He has risen in all His glory!

The Easter Hymn lyrics proclaim that it is a time to rejoice for the Lord (il Signor) has risen.

We Exhalt the Risen Lord
We Exhalt the Risen Lord


Is Easter Celebrated This Way Today?

The Cavalleria Rusticana opera takes place in a small village or town in southern Italy. Most sources claim that the events take place in Sicily, the island off the southern tip of present-day Italy.

Easter Hymn in Cavalleria Rusticana
Easter Hymn in Cavalleria Rusticana

According to Christian tradition, the week before Easter is referred to as Holy Week. According to Holy Scriptures, this was a period when Christ spent time with his friends and disciples preparing them for His upcoming death. The feast of the Last Supper, which is commemorated on Thursday before Easter, was not a happy affair. As such, the days prior to Easter are days of fasting, contemplation and deep mourning.

The tradition of conducting processions within churches and through the streets and squares of villages and towns while carrying statues depicting the events of Holy Week, is widespread in Italy – particularly in present-day, southern Italy. But, for the most part these processions occur during Holy Week – the week before Easter.

In Italy, the tradition of carrying a statue of the Risen Christ on Easter Day appears not to be widespread. The village of Scicli in the south-eastern part of Sicily, in the province of Ragusa is perhaps the only place where such a tradition continues to be fostered.

Following Easter Mass, the people of Scicli celebrate “Cristo Risorto” (The Risen Christ). A statue of the Risen Christ is carried through the town streets after the conclusion of the Easter Mass celebrations in church. Consequently, Easter Day in Scicli has become a tourist attraction.

“The wooden statue of Christ, the eighteenth-century work attributed to Civiletti and usually hosted in the Church of Santa Maria La Nova, is carried on parade through the streets of the city…” Scent of Sicily Blog (a new window will open).

On the other hand, the procession with a statue of the Risen Christ is celebrated widely in Malta. Malta is a small island-state just south of Sicily. Is this tradition an example of the historical and linguistic links between Sicily and Malta? Perhaps. But, that is a discussion for a different time. Stay tuned!

Text by: Oksana A. Wynnyckyj-Yusypovych


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