Edgar (opera)

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Work data
Original title: Edgar
Title page of the libretto, Milan 1888

Title page of the libretto, Milan 1888

Original language: Italian
Music: Giacomo Puccini
Libretto : Ferdinando Fontana
Literary source: La Coupe et les lèvres by Alfred de Musset
Premiere: April 21, 1889
Place of premiere: Teatro alla Scala in Milan
Playing time: approx. 1 ¾ hours (three-act version),
approx. 3 hours (four-act version)
Place and time of the action: Flanders in 1302
  • Edgar, a young farmer ( tenor )
  • Gualtiero, an old farmer ( bass )
  • Frank, Gualtiero's son ( baritone )
  • Fidelia, Gualtiero's daughter ( soprano )
  • Tigrana ( mezzo-soprano )
  • Peasants, peasant women, courtiers, diners, soldiers, monks, people, girls, boys, servants ( choir )
  • Peasants, peasant women, shepherds, women, old people, children, soldiers, an officer, sentry, servants, monks, citizens (extras)

Edgar is an opera (original name: "Dramma lirico") in three or four acts by Giacomo Puccini . The libretto is by Ferdinando Fontana . The opera premiered on April 21, 1889 at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan .


The opera is set in Flanders in 1302. The historical background is formed by the Flemish wars against France's claim to power.

In a village near Courtrai , Fidelia affectionately greets her fiancé Edgar. Tigrana, who was raised by the villagers as a Hungarian-Moriski foundling and had previously had a relationship with Edgar, makes fun of the two. When the villagers come out of the church, Tigrana mocks them too in a blasphemous way. The disgruntled farmers drive them to Edgar's house, who defends them passionately. Edgar has had enough of the boring village. He sets his house on fire, wounds Tigrana's admirer Frank in a duel and escapes with her.

The two lead a dissolute life, but Edgar soon gets tired of it. He is reconciled with Frank, who has since joined the army, and joins him to go to war.

Edgar died in the Battle of Courtrai . At the funeral service, Fidelia commemorates their time together. A mysterious monk reminds everyone of the misdeeds and the vicious life of Edgar. Fidelia defends him. The monk offers Tigrana jewelry so that she can confirm that Edgar wanted to betray the fatherland. Tigrana agrees. The soldiers present, furious, rush onto the stretcher and realize that their armor is empty. The monk identifies himself as Edgar. He had only faked his death and is now cursing Tigrana. In the three-act version, Edgar falls into Fidelia's arms. Tigrana stabs her and Edgar collapses over Fidelia's body.

In the original version, Fidelia returned to her house before Edgar revealed himself. She mourns and dreams that she will still be reunited with him in death today. Edgar and the villagers come to her and explain everything. Edgar and Fidelia want to get married. Tigrana sneaks into the apartment and murders Fidelia. Frank and Gulatiero prevent Edgar from practicing vigilante justice. Tigrana is led to the place of execution.

The following table of contents is based on the libretto from 1889. The scene instructions from it are marked in italics.

first act

A village near Courtrai

Edgar's house on the front right; a stone bench near the front door; a little further back a church. On the left in front a tavern with a pergola and a table and benches underneath; further back a group of trees. Directly behind the church a hill across the entire scene, which runs on the left behind a group of trees; in the middle of the hill is a blossoming almond tree with a path across the square. In the background of the serene landscape, some distance away, the roofs of the village houses. Earliest morning.

Scene 1. Farmers sing about the dawn of the morning. Fidelia also enjoys nature. She sees Edgar sleeping, wakes him up and lovingly hands him a branch of the almond tree. Then she goes.

Scene 2. Tigrana makes fun of the love scene.

Scene 3. She reminds Edgar of her former fiery love, which had nothing in common with this peasant love. Edgar doesn't want to hear about it. Tigrana ironically advises him to go to church. He enters his house. Tigrana makes her way to the tavern. There she meets her admirer Frank.

Scene 4. Frank complains that Tigrana did not show up for her appointment last night. Tigrana replies that she is bored of his love.

Scene 5. Frank remembers how Tigrana had been left behind in the village fifteen years earlier by Hungarians and Morisks passing through and taken in by the village community. Now he loves her unhappily ("Questo amor, vergogna mia").

Scene 6. After the service, the peasants leave the church in procession. Tigrana mocks them in a blasphemous way ("Tu il cuor mi strazi"). The peasants, angry, drive them to Edgar's house. There she sees no other way out and knocks on the door.

Scene 7. Edgar opens. He opposes the farmers and defends Tigrana passionately. The farmers think he's crazy. Edgar agrees with them. He had long wanted to leave this boring valley. On the spur of the moment, he sets his house on fire and takes Tigrana's hand to start a new life with her. The bystanders evade in horror. Only Frank stands in their way.

Scene 8. Frank draws his dagger and tries to stop Edgar by force.

Scene 9. Frank's father Gualtiero begs his son to end the argument. Fidelia tries the same with Edgar. When the two actually lower their guns, Tigrana declares them cowards. The farmers, however, are relieved. The argument breaks out again, however, and Edgar slightly wounds Frank. Gualtiero snatches the gun from the still raging Frank. Edgar and Tigrana leave quickly. The villagers, with the exception of Fidelia, hurl curses at them.

Second act

Great vestibule of a castle

A carpeted staircase leads to the banquet room. At the back you can descend via a terrace from the hall to the street. In the background a moonlit landscape with trees. Gardens to the right. Flowers and candlesticks. Different colored hanging lamps. On the walls tapestries, feathers, etc.

Scene 1. Guests and courtesans celebrate in Tigranas and Edgars Castle.

Scene 2. Edgar has grown tired of the debauchery of recent times. He longs for the graceful picture of that April morning (“O soave vision”) and goes away brooding.

Scene 3. Tigrana celebrates with the guests and courtesans. The servants bring gaming tables. The guests sit down and start playing.

Scene 4. Tigrana asks Edgar why he is sad. She notices that he no longer loves her and reminds him that it was because of her that he left his home. Now he only has her. Her beauty will give him pleasure and she will never let him go. In the distance, drums and trumpets herald the arrival of soldiers.

Scene 5. Frank, who has since joined the army, has found his pride again. He appears at the castle with his soldiers and is surprised to see Edgar and Tigrana. Edgar hands Frank, whom he does not yet recognize because of his helmet, a glass. He declares that he wants to become a soldier as well and move away with them, since he's had enough of this lazy life. Frank takes off his helmet to reveal himself. Edgar loses hope. Plagued by feelings of guilt, he no longer considers himself worthy of Frank and his homeland. Frank, however, asks his forgiveness himself, since it was he who, through his unworthy love, had been led to insult Edgar. Then Edgar finally decides to go to war for Flanders against King Philip IV . Tigranas swears vengeance.

Third act

Wide plain near Courtrai

A field camp in the background. Hills and a village on the right in the distance. On the left, on a short flight of steps, a mourning catafalque . Sunset. The flaming sky is pervaded by black streaks of cloud.

Scene 1. After the Battle of Courtrai is won , girls bring the stretchers of the fallen soldiers to the catafalk.

Scene 2. Monks and soldiers mourn the death of the heroically fallen Edgar. Among them is Fidelia, who now wants to dedicate her life to his memory and hopes to see her again in death. Frank climbs up to the catafalque to deliver the funeral speech. One of the monks reminds those present of Edgar's negative qualities. He set fire to his father's house and led a life of debauchery. Frank tries to silence him, but some of the soldiers and mourners want to hear the unknown monk. He explains that Edgar himself commissioned him on his deathbed to reveal his guilt as a sign of atonement. He asks the villagers present to confirm his allegations - which they are doing. Fidelia is horrified. After the monk has finished, those present rush to the catafalque to tear the corpse down. Only Fidelia opposes them and defends Edgar, their only love. Despite his fiery thoughts, his heart was pious, and he had atoned for his youthful mistakes with his blood and his honor ("Nel villaggio d'Edgar"). She hopes to be reunited with him one day in death ("Addio, mio ​​dolce amor"). Everyone is touched by her words, her beauty and friendliness.

Scene 3. Tigrana pushes through the crowd to hold a wake and pray at Edgar's. The monk lets them in. But he secretly doubts her piety.

Scene 4. Tigrana laments the death of Edgar, the only one she could love. Just as she is about to leave, Frank and the monk arrive.

Scene 5. While Tigrana turns back to prayer, the monk explains to Frank that she cannot really pray and love, but just wants to show her pain. He advises Tigrana to take care of her eyes and her knees (trio: "Bella signora, il pianto sciupa gli occhi"). Frank offers Tigrana a pearl necklace so that she will complain about him as well as about Edgar. Tigrana weakens briefly, but then refuses. The monk shows her another piece of jewelry that she should get if she agrees to "serve his hatred" with one word. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the jewelry, Tigrana agrees.

Scene 6. The monk calls the soldiers and asks Tigrana in their presence whether Edgar was planning to betray his homeland for gold. He shows her again the jewelry that she should receive if she says “yes”. After some hesitation, Tigrana confirmed the slander. The soldiers, furious, rush onto the stretcher, but realize that the armor lying on it is empty. The monk tears off the robe under which there is a warrior's robe. He is Edgar himself. He curses Tigrana, who seeks help from the soldiers in vain and then flees.

In the three-act version Edgar hugs Fidelia. However, Tigrana returns and stabs her. Edgar collapses over her corpse. This ends the opera.

Fourth act

A room in the Gualtieros house in the village near Courtrai

A glass front door in the back center. At the door, on the left, a large window. Also on the left is a large fireplace; next to it a bank. The door to Gualtiero's room facing the forecourt. Between the fireplace and the door there is a kneeling bench, in front of which is a small statue of the Madonna on a table embedded in the wall. To the left of the front door an alcove with a curtain; a bed in the alcove. Furthermore, glass doors that lead to the garden. Towards the front stage, always on the left, a table with a lighted lamp and a vase of laurel branches that Fidelia had taken from Edgar's bier. To the left of the table is a sofa. Everything makes a patriarchal impression. Just before sunrise.

Scene 1. Fidelia laments the death of Edgar, whom she still believes to be dead. She can finally fall asleep.

Scene 2. Gualtiero looks at his daughter sympathetically. He prays for her. Fidelia's friends appear at the door. Fidelia wakes up and tells them about her dream: In it Edgar promised her that he would wait for her today in the realm of the dead so that they would be united in heaven. She asks the girls to fetch her the wedding dress and jewelry. After her death, she would like to be buried in it. The sun shines in through the rear window. Fidelia goes to the window to see the dew-moistened roses shine one last time. Then she sees Frank and Edgar. Happy calls can be heard in the distance.

Scene 3. Frank and Edgar appear. Edgar promises Fidelia that he will never leave her again. The wedding should finally take place now.

Scene 4. Edgar and Fidelia make sure they love each other. He explains to her that he faked his death to "get to know life".

Scene 5. Tigrana comes through the back door with a dagger in her right hand. She runs to the sofa and stabs Fidelia in the chest. Fidelia jumps up, frightened, and then falls back on the sofa with a scream. Tigrana looks around carefully so as not to get stained with blood. Then she drops the dagger as she retreats. From the outside music and cheers from the wedding party can be heard.

Scene 6. Girls and peasants play at the window and door and see the dying Fidelia. Edgar happily runs up to his bride to hug her, but then realizes the situation and cries out. With the last of her strength, Fidelia points to the alcove. Then she sinks into Edgar's arms while Frank and some farmers enter the alcove and find Tigrana there. Fidelia dies with one last oath of love to Edgar.

Scene 7. Edgar lays Fidelia on the sofa and then asks for Tigrana's dagger to kill with himself. Frank and Gualtiero hold him back. Tigrana is led to the place of execution.


Puccini's style is based on his predecessor Le Villi . There are instrumental preludes and interludes in both operas. The four main characters are more strongly characterized by leitmotifs than in Le Villi , but these are only slightly varied. The opera is no longer subdivided into individual numbers, but has clear breaks that separate the individual pieces from one another.


The orchestral line-up for the opera includes the following instruments:

Work history

Romilda Pantaleoni as Tigrana, Milan 1889

Edgar is Puccini's second opera. He wrote them on behalf of his publisher Ricordi , who, after the success of Puccini's first work Le Villi (1884), was hoping for renewed success.

The libretto is by Ferdinando Fontana , who also wrote the text for Puccini's first opera Le Villi . It is based on the dramatic poem La coupe et les lèvres from Un spectacle dans un fauteuil (1832) by Alfred de Musset . The crowd scenes and tableaus show the influence of the grand opéra . Fontana was probably also inspired by Bizet's Carmen when designing the roles .

Puccini received the first information on the plot as early as May 1885. It was not until October 27, 1887 that the work was considered completed, as a communication to the composer Luigi Mancinelli shows . The premiere was then also delayed after Rome withdrew the work planned for the 1887/88 season in order to play the opera by a local composer instead.

The premiere finally took place on April 21, 1889 at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Gregorio Gabrielesco (Edgar), Agostino Lanzoni (Gualtiero), Antonio Magini Coletti (Frank), Aurelia Cataneo (Fidelia) and Romilda Pantaleoni (Tigrana) sang. The set was designed by Giovanni Zuccarelli. The soprano Pantaleoni stood in for the sick mezzo-soprano Giulia Novelli. Puccini therefore had to rewrite the Tigrana game accordingly. The opera received only a cool reception and was only played three times. The critics accused Puccini of eclecticism . Much sounds like Gounod, Bizet or Verdi.

After several unsuccessful attempts during the following two years, the next performance with some adaptations (second version) took place in September 1891 at the Teatro del Giglio in Lucca. There she had a great success. Nevertheless, Puccini revised the opera further and shortened it decisively. The fourth act was deleted and its climax, Tigrana's murder of Fidelia, moved to the third act. In addition, Puccini shortened the prelude and integrated it into the first act. A mezzo-soprano was again planned for the role of Tigrana. The Tigrana also received some of the passages originally dedicated to Fidelia. The first performance of this third version took place on May 19, 1892 at the Teatro Real in Madrid. As a result, Puccini made further changes. The fourth version, considered to be final, was first performed on July 8, 1905 under the direction of Leopoldo Mugnone at the Teatro de la Opera in Buonos Aires. Giovanni Zenatello (Edgar), Giannina Russ (Tigrana) and Rina Giachetti (Fidelia) sang . The performance was a great success.

Puccini later used part of the bowed music in other works such as the Messa di gloria (1880), the Preludio in A for orchestra (1882), an Adagio for string quartet (1882), the Capriccio sinfonico (1883) and the song Storiella d ' amore (1883). The duet “Amaro sol per te m'era il morire!” Survived in Tosca's third act . Puccini himself later showed no greater interest in this early work. On a piano reduction he sent Sybil Seligman, he wrote the words "E Dio ti Gu A Rdi da quest'opera" ("And may God protect you from this opera").

Since Puccini had made the revision directly in the autograph, the original version could not be reconstructed for a long time. It was not until 2007 that parts of the original score were found in the estate of a Puccini heiress. The original four-act version has since been carefully reconstructed and premiered in Turin in 2008 (the 1889 performance had already been changed due to the change in the cast of Tigrana's role).

Arturo Toscanini performed the funeral music from the third act on December 29, 1924 at the Teatro alla Scala on the occasion of the funeral service for Puccini's death. The opera was given in 1944 as part of the Scala commemorative season under the direction of Antonino Votto . There have been few performances since then.


  • April 6, 1967 (live from London? With Hammersmith Opera): Joseph Vandernoot (conductor), Fulham Municipal Orchestra, Hammersmith Opera Chorus. Edward Byles (Edgar), Graham Nicholls (Gualtiero), Michael Rippon (Frank), Angela Rubini (Fidelia), Doreen Doyle (Tigrana). Product Code: EJ Smith "The Golden Age of Opera" EJS 400 (2 LP).
  • September 24, 1971 (live, in concert from Turin): Carlo Felice Cillario (conductor), orchestra and choir of the RAI Turin. Veriano Luchetti (Edgar), Alfredo Colella (Gualtiero), Renzo Scorsoni (Frank), Mietta Sighele (Fidelia), Bianca Maria Casoni (Tigrana). Unique Opera Records Corporation UORC 100 (2 LP), Mauro R. Fuguette MRF 105 (2 LP), Opera d'Oro 1449 (2 CD).
  • 1972 (studio recording of the second act): Anton Guadagno (conductor), Orchestra of the Vienna Volksoper . Barry Morell (Edgar), Walker Wyatt (Frank), Nancy Stokes (Tigrana). RCA LP: RK 11 566 / 1-2 (2 LP).
  • 1972 (studio recording): Bryan Balkwill (conductor), BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra, BBC Northern Singers. Ronald Dowd (Edgar), Jolyon Dodgson (Gualtiero), Terence Sharpe (Frank), Pauline Tinsley (Fidelia), Marjorie Biggar (Tigrana). Open Reel Tape - Mr. tape 889.
  • April 8, 1977 (live, concert performance from New York; complete three-act version from 1905): Eve Queler (conductor), Opera Orchestra of New York, Schola Cantorum of New York. Carlo Bergonzi (Edgar), Mark Munkittrick (Gualtiero), Vicente Sardinero (Frank), Renata Scotto (Fidelia), Gwendolyn Killebrew (Tigrana). CBS CD: M2K 79213 (2 CD), CBS LP: 79213 (2 LP).
  • 1984 (video, live from Montepulciano): Jan Latham-König (conductor), New Stockholm Chamber Orchestra and Chorus. Raimundo Mettre (Edgar), Aldo Poramente (Gualtiero), Gianluigi Senici (Frank), Zsuzsanna Dénes (Fidelia), Helrun Gardow (Tigrana). House of Opera DVDCC 485 (1 DVD).
  • December 7, 2002 (live, in concert from the Salle Olivier Messiaen in Paris; Madrid version from 1892): Yoel Levi (conductor), Orchester National de France, Chœurs du Radio France. Carl Tanner (Edgar), Carlo Cigni (Gualtiero), Dalibor Jenis (Frank), Júlia Várady (Fidelia), Mary Ann McCormick (Tigrana). Naive V 4957 (2 CD).
  • January 21, 2004 (live from Philadelphia): Christofer Macatsoris (conductor), Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, New Jersey Master Chorale, Wayne Richmond Children's Song of New Jersey. James Valenti (Edgar), Matthew Arnold (Gualtiero), Yungbae Yang (Frank), Latonia Moore (Fidelia), Jennifer G. Hsiung (Tigrana). Celestial Audio CA 549 (2 CD).
  • July 31, 2004 (video, live from the Therme di Villa Adeiana in Rome): Tamás Pál (conductor), Orchestra Filarmonica Mediterranea, Coro di voci bianche dell'opera di Brasov. Dario Balzanelli (Edgar), Giovanni Tarasconi (Gualtiero), Andrea Rola (Frank), Montserrat Martí (Fidelia), Halla Margrét Árnadóttir (Tigrana). Premiere Opera 5875 (1 DVD).
  • June 22, 2005 (studio recording; three-act version from 1905): Alberto Veronesi (conductor), orchestra and choir of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia Roma. Plácido Domingo (Edgar), Rafael Siwek (Gualtiero), Juan Pons (Frank), Adriana Damato (Fidelia), Marianne Cornetti (Tigrana). DGG 477 610-2 (2 CD).
  • 2008 (live from the Teatro Regio di Torino ): Yoram David (conductor), orchestra and choir of the Teatro Regio di Torino. José Cura (Edgar), Carlo Cigni (Gualtiero), Marco Vratogna (Frank), Amarilli Nizza (Fidelia), Julia Gertseva (Tigrana). Celestial Audio CA 815 (2 CD).
  • April 13, 2008 (live, concert performance from Carnegie Hall New York): Eve Queler (conductor), Opera Orchestra of New York, New York Choral Society. Marcello Giordani (Edgar), Giovanni Guagliardo (Gualtiero), Stephen Gaertner (Frank), Latonia Moore (Fidelia), Jennifer Larmore (Tigrana). Celestial Audio CA 787 (2 CD).

Web links

Commons : Edgar  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Norbert Christen: Edgar. In: Piper's Encyclopedia of Musical Theater. Vol. 5. Works. Piccinni - Spontini. Piper, Munich and Zurich 1994, ISBN 3-492-02415-7 , pp. 94-96.
  2. Edgar. In: Harenberg opera guide. 4th edition. Meyers Lexikonverlag, 2003, ISBN 3-411-76107-5 , p. 683 f.
  3. a b c d Sabine Radermacher: Booklet for the concert performance of the four-act version on May 28, 2016 in the Konzerthaus Dortmund as part of the Klangvokal Music Festival.
  4. ^ Record of the performance on April 21, 1889 in the Teatro alla Scala in the Corago information system of the University of Bologna .
  5. a b c d e Julian Budden:  Edgar. In: Grove Music Online (English; subscription required).
  6. a b c d e f g h i j Giacomo Puccini. In: Andreas Ommer: Directory of all opera complete recordings. Zeno.org , volume 20.
  7. Inclusion by Yoram David (2008) in the discography for Edgar at Operadis.
  8. Inclusion by Eve Queler (2008) in the discography on Edgar at Operadis.