Opera Rara’s new recording of Puccini’s Le Willis, featuring Brian Mulligan as Guglielmo, is now available on CD format via Opera Rara and Amazon. Based on the new Ricordi critical edition, and reconstructed by musicologist Martin Deasy, the studio recording was taken at London’s Henry Wood Hall in November 2018. The original one-act version of Puccini’s first opera was successfully premièred at Milan’s Teatro Dal Verme but was never published and has not been heard since 1884. This marks Opera Rara’s first venture into the musical world of Puccini and its second verismo project.
Based on the short story Les Willis by French novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr – based in turn on the legend of the Vila who appear in the ballet Giselle – Le Willis was composed for a competition in 1883. While Puccini’s work did not even earn an honourable mention, his supporters helped fund its first production the following year in Milan. This, in turn, won the 24-year-old composer – already hailed as Verdi’s successor – a contract with Italy’s leading publisher, Ricordi. At Ricordi’s request, Puccini set about revising the work, creating a two-act version with additional arias for the soprano and tenor; and this is the form in which the work has been performed ever since.
Returning for her second collaboration with Opera Rara, Ermonela Jaho sings the role of Anna. Armenian tenor Arsen Soghomonyan will make his UK debut as her lover Roberto, and Brian Mulligan sings the role of her father Guglielmo. Opera Rara’s Artistic Director Sir Mark Elder conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra.