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EDGAR (1886 - 1889)

Land Of PucciniLibrettist, Ferdinando Fontana

Background: The first of the operas commissioned by his publisher, Ricordi, Puccini and librettist Ferdinando Fontana began their search for a subject in 1884. Edgar was based on Alfred de Musset's La Coupe et les lèvres. Giacomo Puccini spent much of 1885 in Lucca composing and fitting the score to the libretto and its revisions as Fontana sent them. Later, Puccini continued the work on Edgar at Sant'Antonio d'Adda, a village in the mountains near Caprino Bergamasco, where he could avoid the chaos of city life and be closer to Fontana who was not far away. At first, he wrote the opera in four acts, but later it was reduced to three. During this period Puccini was paid a stipend by Ricordi, but he was still struggling financially as by this time, he had a family of his own to support and was also helping his younger brother, another musician and aspiring composer. Always lengthy in the time it took him to create a work, Puccini was finally ready to unveil his piece four years later, and on April 21, 1889, Edgar received its world premiere at La Scala, Milan , featuring the most celebrated singers of the day.

The action takes place in Flanders in 1302

Synopsis: In an intense love triangle, Edgar is torn between his love for the innocent and pure Fidelia, and his passion for the sultry Tigrana, her adopted sister. Fidelia's brother, Frank, loves Tigrana, but she scorns him. As the villagers leave the church after Sunday Mass, Tigrana taunts them with a provocative song, infuriating them. When they threaten her, Edgar leaps to her defense and becomes enranged, burning down his house and announcing his departure with Tigrana in a fit of passion. Frank appears and challenges Edgar to a duel, despite appeals for calm from Fidelia and her father. Frank is wounded, Edgar and Tigrana escape as the villages curse them. Act II finds Edgar filled with remorse for having left Fidelia, and tired of Tigrana. A group of soldiers pass by, and impulsively Edgar joins them, recognizing Frank as their leader. The two make peace, and Edgar prepares to leave as Tigrana swears revenge on her faithless lover. In Act III, Frank and a monk chant a funeral requiem for Edgar, supposedly lost in battle. As Frank recounts the soldier's heroic death, the monk reminds the crowd of Edgar's wrongdoings. Incensed, the crowd tears open the coffin intending to throw Edgar's body to the ravens, but all that remains is an empty suit of armor. The monk pulls off the hood hiding his face: he is none other than Edgar! As Fidelia throws herself into his arms, Tigrana suddenly reappears and stabs her to death. As Fidelia's lifeless body drops to the ground, Edgar falls upon her in grief and the murderess is led away by the soldiers to her execution.

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