Puccini - Edgar
José Cura; Amarilli Nizza; Julia Gerseva; Marco Vratogna; Teatro Regio Torino; Yoram David
ArtHaus Musik 101 377
Ricordi, the great Milan music publisher and impresario must have been hard pressed to recoup the losses from his investment after the young Puccini’s second opera Edgar’s disastrous premiere at La Scala in 1889 a year before the overnight sensation of that true verismo masterpiece Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. Edgar was not to recover for over 100 years until rediscovered, with a lost 4th act added, in this performance. Ironically Puccini made a quantum leap of true genius, turning out nothing but masterworks thereafter, while Mascagni stagnated unable to duplicate his initial success.
Edgar is an unfortunate opera, an interesting failure as it were, suffering from a weak libretto, but it does contain some beautiful melodies, arias and choral scenes. Puccini already had a sense of theatre, knew how to create suspense, resolve tension and develop insight into character, mainly Edgar. I would call him a ‘poor man’s Tannhauser’ struggling between carnal and pure love, bringing tragedy upon both.
This performance, honouring Puccini’s 150th, is headed by the great Argentinean José Cura, so successful in Italian ‘heldentenor’ repertory (Trovatore, Otello). He is heartrending in his immersion into Edgar’s character. The two ladies representing two sides of love are soprano Amarilli Nizza and mezzo Julia Gertseva, both in spectacular voice and characterization. Gertseva perhaps steals the show in the role of the aptly named Tigrana, the gypsy girl who is somewhat reminiscent of Carmen. Noted Israeli-born Yoram David conducts with verve and passion contributing much to the success of this performance.