Puccini: Ritrovato (Puccini rediscovered)

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COMPOSERS: Puccini
LABELS: DG
WORKS: original arias from Edgar, madam butterfly, Manon Lescaut, La rondine and La fanciulla del West
PERFORMER: Violeta Urmana, Plácido Domingo, Annamaria Dell’Oste, Alfredo Nigro, Stefano Secco; Vienna PO & Opera Chorus/Alberto Veronesi
CATALOGUE NO: 477 7455

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This collection of offcuts and outtakes from Puccini’s operas is revealing. The original version of the final scene from Butterfly is typical: Puccini retained many of the musical ideas in his revision, but his rewrites are consistent improvements. The first version is impressive, but the second realises the emotional situation with overwhelming power.

Similar processes are at work in ‘Sola, perduta, abbandonata’ from Manon Lescaut, ‘Amici fiori’ from Suor Angelica, and the languid drinking-song from La rondine – though for some reason it is the original version of the latter score that we encounter in the theatre today, sometimes with the tenor romanza added for the second version included as heard here.

Other extracts involve pieces or sections later cut. The last Act of Edgar was dropped entirely, including a lengthy duet some of which was recycled in Tosca

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Violeta Urmana sounds in her element, while Domingo holds up his head, especially as a baritone Prunier in the first Rondine revision. George Hall