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Giacomo Puccini Le villi

opera en deux actes
livret de ferdinando fontana

melanie diener soprano
aquiles machado tenor
ludovic tezier baryton
recitante sylvie david

choeur de radio france & orchestre philharmonique de radio france
marco guidarini direction

Naive V 4958 [March 2002, Radio France]


Giacomo Puccini Edgar

opera en trois actes
livret de ferdinando fontana

julia varady soprano
mary ann mc cormick mezzo soprano
carl tanner tenor
dalibor jenis baryton
carlo cigni basse

maitrise de radio france
choeur de radio france
orchestre national de france

yoel levi direction

Naive V 4957 [December 2002, Radio France]

These Radio France live recordings of Puccini's first two operas are to be welcomed and applauded. Both are strongly cast and directed by their respective conductors. They had chequered careers, largely because of their libretti which gave Puccini a lot of trouble. Le Villi (1884) treats the Giselle story, highly condensed for a one-act opera competition, and revised into two acts, well received and later conducted by Mahler. It is clearly by the composer we know so well, and fascinating to hear his unmistakable musical personality emerging. The lead parts are well taken by Melanie Diener and Aquiles Machado.

Regrettably, Puccini kept the same librettist for his second attempt, and Edgar (1884 rvd 1889-1892) is handicapped by an over-eventful and sometimes ill motivated story line, with mounting absurdities and incongruities. There is plenty of violence, with a Carmen-like seductress who plays off the two men against each other, and finally kills the heroine. Julia Varady and Carl Tanner in Edgar carry the drama and there are arias to savour in a well developed through-composed score.

Presentation is lavish, with full texts and translations; both operas deserve places in Puccini collections.


© Peter Grahame Woolf