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Giacomo Puccini: Edgar
José Cura (Edgar), Amarilli Nizza (Fidelia), Julia Gertseva (Tigrana), Marco Vratogna (Frank), Carlo Cigni (Gualtiero), Orchestra, Chorus, and Boys’ Choir of the Teatro Regio of Turin, Claudio Marino Moretti (Chorus Master), Boys’ Choir of the Conservatorio “Giuseppe Verdi” of Turin, Claudio Fenoglio (Chorus Master), Yoram David (Conductor), Lorenzo Mariani (Stage Director), Maurizio Baló (Set and Costume Design), Christian Pinaud (Lighting Design), Tiziano Mancini (Video Director)
Recorded live at Teatro Regio of Turin (June 2008) – 157’
ARTHAUS MUSIK Ref. #: NTSC 101 377 – Picture format: 16:9 – Sound format: PCM Stereo, DD 5.1 – Region Code: 0 – Subtitles in Italian (original language), English, German, French, and Spanish – Libretto in English, French, and German

Edgar is Puccini’s second opera. After a tepid reception in Milan in 1898, followed by several unconvincing revisions, the opera lay almost unperformed until 2008 when it was resurrected by Teatro Regio of Turin on the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

The libretto, freely based on La Coupe et les lèvres (The goblet and the lips), a lyric poem by French author Alfred de Musset, narrates the story of Edgar, torn between his heartfelt love for innocent Fidelia and his sensual lust for the fiery courtesan Tigrana. Edgar, believed dead at war, suddenly reappears dressed as a monk, standing by his empty casket. While marriage of Edgar and Fidelia is underway, Tigrana bursts in and stabs Fidelia to death.

The main characters bear striking resemblance with Carmen’s “triangle”: the chaste village-girl (Micaëla/Fidelia), the femme fatale (Carmen/Tigrana), and the desperate soldier (Don José/Edgar). This is where the comparison ends. Musically and dramatically, the two operas do not compete in the same league.

Although the composer is still looking for his own style, with Verdi and Donizetti briefly surfacing here and there, the score has its good moments and Puccini’s distinct voice can be clearly discerned. But the work has weaknesses: it is lengthy, with no catchy arias so typical of Puccini, and the story line is rather nonsensical.

This Teatro Regio’s production of the original four-act version is quite alluring. Lorenzo Mariani’s direction is intense, arresting, and straightforward, with great attention paid to detail. Maurizio Baló signs luxurious costumes and sets, while Christian Pinaud’s lighting is remarkably dramatic. The musical cast is beyond reproach: Amarilli Nizza is a touching Fidelia. Her lyric soprano, hesitant in the first act, gains confidence as the opera develops, offering some nice filati. Julia Gertseva, with her warm and powerful mezzo, is excellent in the part of the lascivious and torrid Tigrana. José Cura’s portrayal of Edgar is convincing. The voice has forceful energy, a seducing timbre, but high notes are occasionally screamed out more than they are sung. Marco Vratogna is a suitable Frank, and so is Carlo Cigni as Gualtiero.

Conductor Yoram David delivers a distinguished performance at the helm of a refined orchestra.

In spite of a brilliant second chance given by Teatro Regio, one doubts that this piece of juvenilia will ever make its entry in the pantheon of operas.

This DVD might not be to the liking of standard repertoire devotees, but it will unquestionably enchant audiences in search of rarities.

Christian Dalzon




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