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  Verismo (‘realism’) was a late-19th century European arts movement. Novels, plays and operas were made from ordinary lives and incidents, the kinds of story reported by newspapers. The aim was to democratize the arts, as it were, showing that human suffering and passion were the same regardless of social status. In practice, the dichotomy between domestic surroundings and high-tragic expression made the style seem melodramatic and somewhat ridiculous. Pirandello\'s plays about housewives and prostitutes have a phoniness of utterance quite unlike the seriousness and urgency of (for instance) Ibsen before him and Arthur Miller after him. Mürger\'s and Dumas fils\' stories and novels about students indulging in grand, doomed passion similarly suffer from an excess of manner over matter. The most successful pieces of verismo art, the operas of Puccini and his followers, tend to work because the ennobling power of the music obliterates rather than enhances the tawdriness of the surroundings. Picasso\'s pictures of acrobats and other performers similarly find human truth in grubby circumstance. But verismo was rather a short-lived parasite on realism than a fully-fledged movement in its own right. It betrayed and patronized its subjects rather than revealing the human truth in them. KMcL  



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