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Thursday at the Opera - Lecture II



Thursday at the Opera - Lecture II

Our series Thursday at the Opera is back at the Institute from February 15th until March 29th.

The series will be presented by Deirdre O'Grady, Emeritus Professor of Italian and Comparative Studies of University College Dublin. The illustrated lectures she presents will consider Puccini’s works and their sources, influences, great performers in specific roles in which they triumphed, and famous stage productions. The lectures will begin on February 15th and end on March 29th. Each lecture will last about one hour starting at 6:30pm on Thursdays.
Lectures will be in English.


22nd February: Lecture II - Beginnings: Introduction to Puccini’s earliest works: Le Villi (Milan 1884) and Edgar (Milan 1889)

Puccini’s first opera Le Villi/ The Witches is a ‘Ballet Opera’/’Opera Ballo’ composed in 1883 for a one act opera competition organized by the music publisher Sonzogno. The future successor to Verdi was unsuccessful but the work later attracted the attention of Arrigo Boito. It owes much to the composers dedicated study of Weber’s Der Freischutz. Based on the story of Adam’s ballet Giselle it tells how betrayed maidens, transformed to Villi exact revenge on their unfaithful lovers. In keeping with the doctrines of Arrigo Boito and the Milanese ‘Scapigliatura’ Puccini provides an association of various art forms: Voice, Dance, Visual Perceptions and Poetry all combine to create a highly original composition. The verse passages were never set to music.

One discerns a symphonic approach to the orchestra with an emphasis on rich melody later to be associated with Puccini.

As in the case of his first opera, his second work Edgar (Milan 1889) tells the tale of a medieval Everyman torn between two lovers and between sin and virtue. His dissipated existence reflects the strong influence of Bizet’s Carmen. The text, based on Le Coupe et les lèvres, a dramatic poem by Alfred De Musset (1810 – 1857) projects a journey of self-discovery culminating in self- falsification. The co-existence of the sacred and profane paves the way for the Act I finale of Tosca (1900). Edgar was withdrawn after just four performances. In spite of its original failure it contains some of Puccini’s finest music: Edgar’s funeral sequence was played at Puccini’s own funeral in 1924.


Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018

Time: At 6:30 pm

Admission : Free