For True Puccini Lovers Everywhere!
William Mott | 05/15/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was a bit confused by the earlier Amazon reviews for this title - did these people even look at what they were buying? Performances aside (and they are excellent), what this disc features are never heard before early drafts from Puccini's operas...not the music we are used to hearing today. And even though these early ideas were eventually rejected by Puccini as he fine-tuned each masterpiece - rest assured, the music is Puccini to the core! If you are like me and can never get enough of Puccini's soaring melodies and lush orchestration - here's your chance to hear a little bit more. And one side note - if you are an admirer of Puccini's rarely heard earlier works you owe it to yourself to track down a dvd copy of the recent Turin production of "Edgar" with Jose Cura...they've opened all the cuts from the original production and it contains huge passages of music never heard before (at least not on any of the CD releases of this early gem).Edgar"
Mostly a one-time listen of bits and bobs
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 01/31/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"DG has conjoined two gimmicks from other labels: RCA's "Rediscovered" series of great performers in forgotten or lost recordings and various "Unknown" albums of Verdi and Puccini rarities such as those conducted by Riccardo Chailly. To tell the truth, this new Puccini disc is the latter rather than the former; there are no lost or forgotten performances here. The real question is whether it was worthwhile to bring together two international opera stars and the Vienna Phil. for the purpose of reviving Puccini's early fragments, discarded scenes, first thoughts, and a few other oddments. Before going into that, here's the complete program:
1. Preludio a orchestra (1876)
2. Ed ora bevo all'amor (La rondine, 1920, second version) Magda, Ruggero, Lisette, Prunier
3. Con onor muore (Madama Butterfly, 1904, original version) Madama Butterfly (Cio-Cio-San)
4. Sia benedetto il giorno (Edgar, 1889, manuscript version) Fidelia, Edgar
5. Preludio (Edgar, 1892 version, prelude to Act I)
6. Sola, perduta, abbandonata (Manon Lescaut, 1893, original version)
7. Preludio (Manon Lescaut, 1892, prelude to original Act III/1)
8. Oh, se qualcuno vuol quell' oro (La fanciulla del West, 1910, first published version)
9. Adagetto per orchestra da camera (1881-1883)
10. Amici fiori (Suor Angelica, 1918, original version)
11. Parigi è la città dei desideri (La rondine, 1920, second version)
12. Evviva le coppe colmate! - La coppa è simbol della vita (Edgar, 1889, manuscript version, Act II, scene 3)
Each listener will have to pick out his own favorites and discards. All the singers, including the evergreen Domingo, are in fine voice, as are the orchestra (needless to say) and conductor. Urmana was one of the first Russian emigrees to transform herself into an Italian diva, and she's pretty convincing.
So, which items caught my fancy? The ensemble that ends La Rondine is quite charming. The original 1904 death of Butterfly is unmissable; it doesn't equal the final version but fascinates by how close a near-miss actually is. Puccini tinkered with every bar. The duet from Edgar indicates how early the Puccini signature was being formed. Opera fans won't be able to resist the first version of Manon's death aria "Sola, perduta, abandonata," although these rough-draft tidbits have a very short shelf life, basically one listen. And so it goes.
I doubt that anyone will give this whole album more than one listen, but it's as good as any other gimmick album.