Puccini’s second opera ‘Edgar’ premiered today

This day in opera history, April 21, 1889, marks the premiere of Puccini’s Edgar in Milan, Italy, an opera that I’ve never seen on anyone’s season schedule here in the U.S.

There are no performances of Edgar listed on Bachtrack.com (the world’s best way to find live classical performance) either.

Me, being the inquisitive creature I am, set out to find out why.

It may not be Puccini’s finest work; however, it’s more likely the opera has languished because the opera world just doesn’t need another Carmen.

Similarities to  Bizet‘s Carmen abound. Both works feature a confused and then tortured young man (tenor: Edgar, Don José) struggling to choose between the pure home town girl (soprano: Fidelia, Micaëla) and the  exotic gypsy (mezzo-soprano: Tigrana, Carmen).

Interestingly, I have found a good film adaptation for you on YouTube and you can watch the entire opera if you have time.

If you love Scarpia’s dramatic entrance music in Tosca, you will also appreciate Tigrana’s entrance music only minutes into the opera.

Notable arias

Act 1

  • “O fior del giorno” — Fidelia
  • “Già il mandorlo vicino” — Fidelia
  • “Questo amor, vergogna mia” — Frank
  • “Tu il cuor mi strazi” — Tigrana

Act 2

  • “Orgia, chimera dall’occhio vitreo” — Edgar
Act 3

  • “Addio, mio dolce amor” — Fidelia
  • “Nel villaggio d’Edgar” — Fidelia
  • “Ah! se scuoter della morte” — Tigrana (4 acts versions)

Act 4

  • “Un’ora almen” — Fidelia

The production you are about to see features the following performers in the lead roles:

Jose Cura
Amarilli Nizza
Julia Gertzeva
Teatro Regio di Torino 07.2008

YouTube Preview Image

What do you think? Puccini lovers will be happy to know it is very Pucciniesque–not like a composer taking on something and not sounding at all like himself. One critic said that Puccini “jumped across an abyss from Edgar to Manon Lescaut,” Puccini’s third opera and first great success.Edgar was a necessary, prepatory step full of redundancies flashes and hints, while Manon is the work of a self-confident genius” (The Autumn of Italian Opera).

However, is Edgar worth presenting more frequently than it is? Is is instructive to see works that illustrate an artist’s or composer’s growth?

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Filed under Classic Opera, Italian opera, Premieres, verismo opera

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