Nicholas McCarthy was born in 1989 without his right hand and only began to play the piano at the late age of 14. Having once been told that he would never succeed as a concert pianist, Nicholas would not be discouraged and went on to study at the prestigious Royal College of Music in London. Mascagni’s composition Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) was based on a passionate love tragedy by the Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga. Mascagni admired the story after seeing a play, arranged by Verga, in Milan. Mascagni took just two months to compose the one-act opera. It was first performed in 1890 and was immediately successful and performed all over the world.