The story centers on a Flemish knight (Edgar) who rejects the love of a virtuous village girl (Fidelia) and runs away with a Moorish seductress (Tigrana). Once he gets tired of endless orgies, Edgar joins the army. With the help of Fidelia’s brother, Edgar stages his own funeral and humiliates Tigrana. Taking revenge, Tigrana murders Fidelia. Puccini worked on it for four years, and the premiere in Milan was not a rave success. In fact, it was dropped after only three performances.
Ricordi urged the composer to make revisions, and Puccini cut parts of the 4th act but elaborating on the ending for act 2. Published in 1890, Puccini revised the work again in 1891. This time, he completely cut the last act and produced a 3-act version, which would once again be revised in 1905. Eventually Puccini gave up and wrote, “It was an organism defective from the dramatic point of view. Its success was ephemeral. Although I knew that I wrote some pages, which do me credit, that is not enough; as an opera it does not exist. The basis of an opera is the subject and its treatment. In setting the libretto of Edgar I have, with all respect to the memory of my friend Fontana, made a blunder.” As the result of this extended process or revision, Ricordi held the autograph scores for acts 1 and 3, and acts 2 and 4 remained with Puccini. The original 1889 score was reunited only in 2007, and revived on the Turin stage in 2008.
Giacomo Puccini: Edgar