Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

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lennygoran
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Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

Post by lennygoran » Fri Nov 13, 2020 4:51 pm

We saw this opera for the first time many years ago at Dicapo Opera and while I forgot most of the plot I walked away with pretty positive thoughts about it-today we saw it c/o netflix-traditional setting and with captions-the cast looked good and the singing was pretty good-the acting was good but maybe went a little overboard. We heard much of what Puccini brought to his later operas which we love-this one with some very nice music had a plot we found pretty implausable-it was nice to see it in the comfort of our own home and I have a recording on CD so I might play the music from time to time-as for seeing it again there are many more I'd want to repeat before seeing this opera again. Len


Dario Balzanelli sings the title role of Edgar in this performance of Giacomo Puccini's second opera. Set in 14th-century Flanders, the story focuses on the romantic travails of a knight torn between his love for the virtuous Fidelia (Montserrat Marti) and his lust for the debauched seductress Tigrana (Halla Margret). Andrea Rola and Giovanni Tarasconi also appear in this production featuring the Coro and Orchestra Filarmonica Mediterranea.


Cast Montserrat Martí, Dario Balzanelli, Halla Margret, Andrea Rola, Giovanni Tarasconi
Director Enrico Castiglione

Here are some reviews from the Amazon site-very mixed

1. Halla Margret gives the only positive performance. The others are wooden, but she makes her role and the whole story believable (or as close as you can get in opera!). This is a morality play where the churchgoers are immoral. Edgar twice barbarously dumps his lover, Tigrana, who loves him and gave him pleasure. Edgar prefers Fidelia, who's presented as a parasitic socialite. Everyone else is too busy being judgmental to be moral. The town drives out Tigrana for being sexually active and for singing sympathy for a lamb attacked by a vulture. The town shows its own morals by its love of violence, first against Tigrana, then in battle. Good music and mostly firelit scenes along the way.


2. Festival Euro Mediterraneo provides a very satisfying traditional staging of Puccini's Edgar. The star of this performance is Montserrat Marti, the daughter of Montserrat Caballe, who provides a lovely riveting performance as the heroine. It is a shame she was not cast as the lead soprano in the same company's performance of Le Villi. Halla Margret is far better cast here as the villain than she was as the heroine in Le Villi. Her dark vibrato is somewhat in better control than the wide wobble she provided in Villi and the tonal quality fits the character far better. Her acting style is over the top and reminiscent of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. The tenor listed on the DVD box is Dario Balzanelli. In the first act, his voice is somewhat covered but emergings into a bright ringing spinto in acts two and three. The baritone, listed as Andrea Rola, is also quite moving. I reference the listings on the box, since with the exception of Marti, the singers are unfamiliar. On the Le Villi box soprano Marti was incorrectly listed in the baritone role of Guglielmo. The chorus is consistently good in this performance and the orchestral accompaniment basically solid. A good value particularly in the absence of competition.

3.Here's a review I agree with most:

In my title to this critique, I emphasize that "Edgar" is Puccini's second opera so that as I or anyone else approaches it, we should not expect to see or hear the polish in his later classics, e.g., "La Boheme". At least, I was willing to appreciate this DVD performance for what it pretended to be and suffered no disappointment. As I viewed it, I kept thinking that this is what it must have been like when Puccini was trying to make a name for himself and not yet realized his later fame. You would not expect an opera company of the caliber of The Met or La Scala to mount this opera, but a smaller or local company would give this work a chance, and whether intentionally or not, the production featured on this Kultur DVD gives one the sense that he (she) is part of the audience in such a hometown theatre taking a chance on the relatively unknown composer. So, I evaluate this particular production along those lines; if this had been the original production over a 100 years ago, I would have said that "this guy Puccini has a future in opera; the work is not brilliant but shows a lot of promise." The cast? Let me say this: if you take in a Broadway show in New York, you expect the best acting and singing. If you go to a hometown dinner-theatre, all you ask for is that the performers do an adequate job. The singers in this production can make a handsome living in whatever is the equivalent of off-Broadway and dinner-theatre in the opera world. I did have to chuckle at the over-the-top histrionics of Halla Margret, one of the two sopranos in the cast; the other one, Montserrat Marti, is good but definitely not in the same league with her famous mom (Caballe). As for the DVD label Kultur, others have already expressed their discontent with the lack of features on discs by this company; very regrettable: no linear notes, synopsis, lack of audio options, etc. However, at least this company provides us collectors with works that are hard to find in other company catalogues, and for this, at least, they deserve some thanks.

maestrob
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Re: Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

Post by maestrob » Sat Nov 14, 2020 8:35 am

Hello, Len!

Yes, I remember Edgar very well. We saw the DiCapo Opera production you mention, and I have the LP set on Columbia with Renata Scotto and Bergonzi led by Eve Queler somewhere. Scotto was near the end of her career when she recorded this, so she sounds rather harsh. I'm particularly fond of the first act baritone aria, and gave it to 2 baritones in my competition to sing. Fine music all around.

In fact, I sang in a Brooklyn performance of scenes from Edgar, Tosca, and Meyerbeer's Le Prophete (which Scotto was also singing at the MET) and others with Queler, Scotto and Milnes in the late 1970's when the set pictured below was recorded:

Image

lennygoran
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Re: Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

Post by lennygoran » Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:09 am

maestrob wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 8:35 am
Hello, Len!

Yes, I remember Edgar very well. ...Meyerbeer's Le Prophete (which Scotto was also singing at the MET) and others with Queler, Scotto and Milnes in the late 1970's when the set pictured below was recorded:
Brian I didn't remember Edgar that well but after being so disappointed with the plot I went to wiki and was surprised to read this--btw I love le prohete-we too saw it live several times at the Met--gotta see if it's available On Demand--only audio :( :
Image

Back to what Puccini had to say about Edgar:
Edgar, Puccini's second opera, was composed on a commission from the publisher Ricordi after the successful reception of his first stage work, Le Villi. The plot indicates the influence of Wagner's Tannhäuser. Both centre on medieval knights struggling between a life of sensual indulgence and ideal love. Edgar is "torn between the sacred love of Fidelia and the profane love of Tigrana";[1] Wagner's hero indulges himself with Venus while pining for the love of Elizabeth. The gypsy-like figure of Tigrana (supposedly the child of "wandering Moors") also parallels the anti-heroine of Bizet's Carmen.

The original version had four acts and was tepidly received. In January 1890, Ricordi published a revised version, including a different ending for act 2. In the autumn of 1891, Puccini revised the work again, cutting the last act and producing a three-act version which would again be revised in 1905.

In this final form the opera had even less success than in its original four-act structure. Some of the music that was cut in 1891 was reused in Tosca and became the beautiful act 3 duet, "Amaro sol per te m'era il morire!". The funeral march from act 3 was played at Puccini's funeral, conducted by Arturo Toscanini and the aria "Addio, mio dolce amor" (Farewell, my sweet love) from act 4 was sung.

Puccini finally gave up on Edgar and in later years, bitterly repudiated the work. He wrote,

It was an organism defective from the dramatic point of view. Its success was ephemeral. Although I knew that I wrote some pages which do me credit, that is not enough -- as an opera it does not exist. The basis of an opera is the subject and its treatment. In setting the libretto of Edgar I have, with all respect to the memory of my friend Fontana, made a blunder (una cantonata). It was more my fault than his.[2]

On a copy of the score that he sent to a friend, the English woman Sybil Seligman, he wrote scathing remarks against parts of the score and amended the title to read:

E Dio ti GuARdi da quest'opera! (And may God protect you from this opera!)[3][4]

maestrob
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Re: Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

Post by maestrob » Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:29 am

Interesting history, Len, thanks!

Le Prophete in the recording with Scotto/Horne/McCracken, conducted by Horne's husband, Henry Lewis, that was issued on Columbia records is also available in better sound than the MET's version for free streaming on amazon.

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lennygoran
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Re: Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

Post by lennygoran » Sun Nov 15, 2020 7:26 am

maestrob wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:29 am
Interesting history, Len, thanks!

Le Prophete in the recording with Scotto/Horne/McCracken, conducted by Horne's husband, Henry Lewis, that was issued on Columbia records is also available in better sound than the MET's version for free streaming on amazon.
Brian thanks-I have that LP and played it often in the past-now I hardly ever use my stereo. Regards, Len :lol:

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Re: Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

Post by Lance » Mon Nov 16, 2020 11:35 pm

The only complete recording I have of Puccini's Edgar is on Sony Classical [79213. 2-CDs] with Scotto, Bergonzi and others with Eve Queler conducting made at Carnegie Hall in NYC in April 1977. I see DGG also has a complete recording available but having the Columbia/Sony set filled the gap. There are, of course, some recordings with excerpts from that opera. Hard to believe that Queler set was recorded now over four decades ago!
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maestrob
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Re: Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

Post by maestrob » Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:30 am

Lance wrote:
Mon Nov 16, 2020 11:35 pm
The only complete recording I have of Puccini's Edgar is on Sony Classical [79213. 2-CDs] with Scotto, Bergonzi and others with Eve Queler conducting made at Carnegie Hall in NYC in April 1977. I see DGG also has a complete recording available but having the Columbia/Sony set filled the gap. There are, of course, some recordings with excerpts from that opera. Hard to believe that Queler set was recorded now over four decades ago!
Yes, Lance, that's the year (1977) I sang with Queler, Scotto & Milnes in a concert of scenes from Edgar, Tosca etc. I was in my twenties and quite thrilled to be on stage with such great artists!

The other DGG recording of Edgar you mention is with Domingo and an otherwise non-famous cast (except for Domingo's pal Juan Pons who sounds rather wooly), but it holds up well enough to be taken seriously. It can be streamed on amazon if anyone's interested. (Len?)

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lennygoran
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Re: Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

Post by lennygoran » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:23 am

maestrob wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:30 am
It can be streamed on amazon if anyone's interested. (Len?)
Brian would the stream be just audio or would it be video as well? Regards, Len

maestrob
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Re: Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

Post by maestrob » Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:50 am

lennygoran wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:23 am
maestrob wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:30 am
It can be streamed on amazon if anyone's interested. (Len?)
Brian would the stream be just audio or would it be video as well? Regards, Len
Hi, Len!

It's a CD release and thus audio only. Do you subscribe to Amazon Prime? If so, it's free with your subscription, which you can sign up for free for a month and then cancel if you don't have it and don't want to keep it. I recommend that service highly: there are literally almost unlimited classical CDs available in HD sound. It's a great way to check out many new issues as well as historical performances that are not available on youtube.

I end up hearing at least one or two recordings each day. Even if I don't buy all of them (that would be impossible!), I'm educating myself and expanding the depth of my musical knowledge every day. It also let's me preview CDs before I buy, which certainly increases the quality of what goes into my shelves.

I know you don't buy CDs any more, but the educational value of the subscription is priceless to me.
Last edited by maestrob on Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

maestrob
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Re: Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

Post by maestrob » Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:10 am

1. Let's start with the basics. What is Amazon Music? Amazon Music is a streaming service included with your Prime membership at no extra charge. For Prime members it features more than 2 million songs — including thousands of stations and top playlists — all ad-free. What's more, you can listen offline and with unlimited skips.
https://www.amazon.com/primeinsider/mus ... music.html

lennygoran
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Re: Revisiting Puccini's Edgar

Post by lennygoran » Tue Nov 17, 2020 12:23 pm

maestrob wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 10:50 am
It's a CD release and thus audio only. Do you subscribe to Amazon Prime? If so, it's free with your subscription, which you can sign up for free for a month and then cancel if you don't have it and don't want to keep it.
Brian thanks-we are subscribed to Amazon Prime-I only wish they had a wider choice of streaming operas with English captions. Regards, Len

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