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Host Sean Bianco brings you a full-length opera featuring great voices from the past and present followed by “Opera Potpourri.”
Le Villi (The Willis or The Fairies) is an opera-ballet in two acts (originally one) composed by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Ferdinando Fontana, based on the short story Les Willis by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. Karr's story was in turn based in the Central European legend of the Vila, also used in the ballet Giselle. The opera, in its original one-act version, was first performed at the Teatro Dal Verme, Milan, on May 31, 1884. Le Villi is Puccini's first stage work. It was written for an 1883 competition of one-act operas by the publisher Sonzogno. His supporters, who included Arrigo Boito, funded the first production, whose favorable reception led to publication by Giulio Ricordi. Puccini's mother received the following telegram on the night of premiere at the Teatro dal Verme on May 31, 1884: "Theatre packed, immense success; anticipations exceeded; eighteen calls; finale of first act encored thrice"'.
Ricordi urged the composer to expand the work, and Puccini did, producing a new version later that year, which was followed by modifications in 1885, and the final version in 1889 in two acts.
Guglielmo – Leo Nucci
Anna – Renata Scotto
Roberto – Placido Domingo
Narrator – Tito Gobbi
Lorin Maazel – conductor
SONY - 1979
Edgar is an operatic dramma lirico in three acts (originally four acts) by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Ferdinando Fontana, freely based on the play in verse La Coupe et les lèvres by Alfred de Musset. The first performance was given at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan on April 21, 1889. The opera was not a success. Puccini repeatedly revised it, before eventually giving up in frustration, declaring the work irredeemable. 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"; 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.
Fidelia – Renata Scotto
Edgar – Carlo Bergonzi
Opera Orchestra of New York
Eve Queler – conductor
SONY - 1977