Puccini’s operas are among the most beloved and best-known works in the classical repertoire, but Edgar may be unknown even to aficionados, at least as it is presented here. This original four-act version of Edgar, first performed in 1889, was believed lost for over a century when Puccini’s granddaughter Simonetta discovered the score fully intact in 2008. In addition to the third act’s funeral music, which Arturo Toscanini conducted at Puccini’s funeral in 1924, listeners may recognize the duet from the now-restored fourth act, cut by Puccini in subsequent revisions of the work: it bears more than a passing similarity to the third-act duet in Tosca.
For the first performance of the original score since the nineteenth century, accomplished Argentine tenor José Cura steps into the title role, a man torn between his love for virtuous Fidelia (soprano Amarilli Nizza), and his carnal lust for debauched courtesan Tigrana (one of the few mezzo roles Puccini wrote, sung here by Julia Gertseva). If the intrigue seems slightly unoriginal, the talented cast elevates the material, and Lorenzo Mariani’s rich staging transposes the action from the medieval age to Risorgimento Italy, the milieu in which the opera was born.