Iris (opera)

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Poster for Iris, published by Casa Ricordi in 1898

Iris is an opera in three acts by Pietro Mascagni to an original Italian libretto by Luigi Illica. It premiered on 22 November 1898 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. The story is set in Japan during legendary times.

Background and performance history[edit]

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" (1814) by the Japanese artist Hokusai.[1]


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 22 November 1898[2]
(Conductor: Pietro Mascagni)
Iris soprano Hariclea Darclée
Il Cieco bass Giuseppe Tisci Rubini
Osaka tenor Fernando De Lucia
Kyoto baritone Guglielmo Caruson
Geisha soprano Ernestina Tilde Milanesi
Haberdasher tenor Eugenio Grossi
Rag merchant tenor Piero Schiavazzi
Chorus: shopkeepers, geishas, laundry girls, samurai, citizens



  1. ^ Mallach, Alan (2002). Pietro Mascagni and his Operas. UPNE. p. 127 and note. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  2. ^ Premiere cast from Casaglia (2005).


  • Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). Iris. Almanacco Amadeus. Retrieved 5 December 2013 (Italian).
  • Warrack, John and West, Ewan (1992), The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 782 pp., ISBN 0-19-869164-5