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Teatro Regio, Wednesday 25 June 2008 - Sunday 6 July 2008
A fake death, a perverse woman (Tigrana) and a pure woman (Fidelia), a murder: the story of Edgar, Giacomo Puccini’s second opera, which Ferdinando Fontana took from La Coupe et les lèvres by Alfred de Musset, is full of dramatic turns of events. The opera, in four acts, was premièred at La Scala on 21 April 1889, with Franco Faccio conducting, but after only two performances it was withdrawn: the critics were rather sceptical, and the libretto was not well-received. Puccini worked on the score once again, and by cutting some sections he intended to reduce the opera to three acts; it was staged in this new version in Ferrara on 28 January 1892. The fourth act, with the preparations for Edgar and Fidelia’s wedding, was eliminated, and the story was condensed in the third act, when, after Edgar’s mock funeral (he is actually alive), Tigrana kills Fidelia. But it was not yet the definitive Edgar, because on 8 July 1905 the opera, with new cuts (still in three acts), was staged with little success in Buenos Aires.
To synthesize Puccini’s disappointment, it is sufficient to read the phrase that the composer wrote on the score that he gave to his good friend Sybil Seligman in 1905: «May God protect you from this opera». The young Puccini, even if he shows some debt to his teacher Amilcare Ponchielli (e.g. the finale of the first act), manages to outline pages of great effectiveness, like the contrast of sacred and profane between the Kyrie and Tigrana’s provocative song in the first act, and Fidelia’s touching aria “Goodbye my sweet love”. Toscanini conducted the Requiem from the third act for Puccini’s funeral at the Duomo in Milan on 3 December 1924.
The version of Edgar that is being staged at Teatro Regio is the contemporary première of the original version in four acts, reconstructed by Linda Fairtile for Casa Ricordi with the supervision of Gabriele Dotto and Claudio Toscani.
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Librettist: Ferdinando Fontana
Year of the first performance: 1889 Teatro alla Scala, Milano