Int. Release 01 Sep. 2009
1 CD / Download
CD DDD 0289 477 7455 6 GH
Plácido Domingo and Violeta Urmana present a treasury of Puccini surprises under the baton of Alberto Veronesi
This is definitely not another disc of Puccini's greatest hits, but a fascinating delve into mostly unfamiliar second thoughts or earlier versions of some key moments in the composer's output . . . The Vienna forces under Alberto Veronesi accompany with gusto. A most enterprising and scholary issue, which is also a great pleasure to listen so.
Urmana sings with great passion, her voice soaring openly when necessary, expanding to allow the emotions to break free . . . Domingo reverts to tenor to sing it with a strength of firm tone not usually associated with a sexagenarian . . . He does bring strength of voice to that long duet of "Edgar" . . . The high quality of orchestral playing is what one expects from the renowned orchestra, and Alberto Veronesi adds another recommendable recording to his discography with this unusual, well thought-out programme.
This collection of offcuts and outtakes from Puccini's operas is revealing . . . Violeta Urmana sounds in her element, while Domingo holds up his head, especially as a baritone Prunier in the first "Rondine" revision.
Im Quartett "Ed ora bevo all'amor" aus "La Rondine" zeigt er die baritonalen Klangfarben seines immer noch wunderbar klingenden Tenors als Prunier. Annamaria dell'Oste als Lisette sowie Stefano Secco als Ruggero sekundieren vokal geschmackvoll . . . [Domingo in "Parigi! E la citta dei desideri"] lässt die Sonne in warmen Klangfarbtönen über der Seine scheinen. Alberto Veronesi am Pult der Wiener Philharmoniker wählt recht breite Tempi, um das Melos des Komponisten auch effektvoll und verlustfrei präsentieren zu können . . . für Puccini- und Domingo-Fans ist diese CD eine Empfehlung . . .
Der reife Plácido Domingo hat im "Edgar"-Duett und in der Arie des Ruggero aus "La rondine" noch immer vokale Sonnenstrahlen zu versenden. Annamaria dell'Oste, Stefano Secco und Urmana-Ehemann Alfredo Nigro sind in Ensembles sichere Stichwortgeber. Alberto Veronesi erreicht mit den Wiener Philharmonikern erwartungsgemäß einen schwelgerischen Puccini-Sound.
. . . interessante Einblicke in die Werkstatt des Komponisten . . . [Placido Domingo] beeindruckt in Auszügen aus "La Rondine" . . . [Alberto Veronesi] und die Wiener Philharmoniker musizieren spürbar mit großer Lust an orchestralen Effekten . . . [ein] Album mit großen Momenten.
. . . [ein] hochinteressantes Recital.
PERDUTO, ABBANDONATO, TROVATO
Abandoned Arias and Ensembles by Puccini
The 150th anniversary of Giacomo Puccini's birth was celebrated in 2008 with new opera productions, television documentaries, rare recovered films of the composer at home and at work, biographical discoveries, publications and exhibitions as well as with new recordings, all contributing to a re-evaluation of his music that will occupy performers and scholars for years to come. In this proliferation of Pucciniana, the present release holds a special place as the first commercial recording of several alternative, abandoned and variant versions of opera arias and ensembles - from the early stages of composition as well as from subsequent revisions - along with some little-known orchestral compositions. All are performed here from new editions.
Puccini's autograph full scores represent working copies of his music. He often used the manuscripts of his operas, particularly those of Le villi, Edgar and Madama Butterfly, for notating changes and revisions. First thoughts were reworked even as Puccini was filling composition drafts with music that would sometimes be revised yet again during the final orchestration.
We hope that listeners will find the rediscovered music on this recording to be beautiful and fascinating, even if the composer did not necessarily intend all of it to be heard. It leads one to wonder what changes Puccini might have made in Turandot had he lived to complete it.
Early Orchestral Pieces
Much of the older Puccini literature has confused the Preludio a orchestra of 1876  with his later Preludio sinfonico in A major, which he composed six years later as a student at the Milan Conservatory. When Puccini wrote the Preludio a orchestra, signalling the emergence of an important Italian musician, he was still a teenager from provincial Lucca and unaware of the destiny that would bring him world fame.
The source for the Adagetto for chamber orchestra  is simply two pages of sketches penned by Puccini sometime between 1881 and 1883. He used this music as the basis for Fidelia's aria “Addio, mio dolce amor" in Act III of Edgar.
Puccini repeatedly modified the position, proportions and orchestration of the Prelude  to his second opera - first produced at La Scala in 1889 and revived in Ferrara and Madrid in 1892 - but all versions of it comprise music descriptive of the dawn (“quell'alba d'aprile") and the relationship of Edgar and Fidelia; a transitional passage leading to music associated with the gypsy seductress Tigrana, followed by the music of Fidelia's fourth act aria, “Un'ora almen a te rapir"; and a reprise of the dawn music. The autograph manuscript of the version recorded here is signed and dated “Madrid, 1892".
Following the productions in Milan, Ferrara and Madrid, Puccini again extensively revised Edgar before arriving at the definitive version of the score, given in Buenos Aires in 1905. Despite its clumsy and preposterous libretto, there is outstandingly beautiful music in this opera. When he decided to eliminate the fourth act, Puccini salvaged part of the music he had originally composed for the great love duet “Sia benedetto il giorno" of Fidelia and Edgar  and reused it in Tosca and Madama Butterfly.
Puccini conceived the brindisi “La coppa è simbol della vita"  for the mezzo-soprano Amelia Stahl, but tailored it to suit the first Tigrana - the soprano Romilda Pantaleoni, who is perhaps best remembered for having created the role of Desdemona in Verdi's Otello. Later in the course of the Edgar revisions, when the role of Tigrana was lowered in tessitura and customized for a mezzo-soprano, it was sung by Giuseppina Pasqua, who began her career as a soprano and created the role of Mrs. Quickly in Verdi's Falstaff. The “pallida morte, bieca sorte" section of the brindisi anticipates the exoticism of Turandot.
Relatively little is known about the genesis of the elegant original Prelude to Act III . The manuscript is undated, but Puccini probably composed it between June 1891 and the first months of 1892, then abandoned it. He used portions in the revised second act of Manon Lescaut for the sequence with the dancing master and for Manon's idyllic song “L'ora, o Tirsi, è vaga e bella".
The complete original version of “Sola, perduta, abbandonata"  was performed at the world premiere of the opera at the Teatro Regio in Turin on 1 February 1893. Puccini subsequently felt the need to experiment with a series of cuts, variants and emendations in the aria, which finally led him to delete it from the score completely in 1909. It was reinstated in the 1920s in what has become the traditional version.
Here we have the original version of “Con onor muore"  - the opera's conclusion in which Cio-Cio-San dies by the ritual suicide known as jigai - as the scene was first performed on 17 February 1904 at La Scala. The familiar revised version was undertaken for performances in Brescia later that year.
La fanciulla del West
The genesis, composition and early revisions of this opera occupied Puccini from the autumn of 1907 to August 1910. It was first produced at the Metropolitan Opera, New York on 10 December of that year under the composer's supervision. The original version of Minnie's aria “Oh, se qualcuno vuol quell'oro"  included 34 bars that were subsequently deleted. It is possible that the cut was already in place during the initial performances at the Metropolitan.
Here are two excerpts from the second version of an underappreciated masterpiece that Puccini alternately called a “porca opera" and “my best music". It was proposed in 1914 as an operetta in the style of Franz Lehár for the Vienna Volksoper, but not performed there until 1920, three years after the world premiere in Monte Carlo on 27 March 1917.
La rondine was published in three different versions during Puccini's lifetime. The first represents the work as it was given in 1917; the second incorporates changes for productions mounted in Palermo and in Vienna (as Die Schwalbe) in 1920; the third (1920-22) represents the most extensive revision. In the 1920 version of the opera, Puccini added an Act I entrance aria for Ruggero, “Parigi! È la città dei desideri"  and made the exquisite Act II quartet “Ed ora bevo all'amor"  much more intimate by eliminating the chorus and redistributing several lines among the characters.
The genesis, composition and early revisions of this opera occupied Puccini from the end of February to the middle of September of 1917. The original version of “Amici fiori" , first performed at the Metropolitan in New York on 14 December 1918, was subsequently revised, and Puccini struggled for years deciding whether or not to retain it. Ultimately, he substituted different music in the version of Suor Angelica that became known as traditional or definitive.