Giacomo Puccini: Le Villi

Edited by Martin Deasy (2020)

One-volume set: score + critical commentary included pp. XXXIII, 1-425
NR 141755
Piano vocal score available
CP 141758

Discounting the initial submission to the Concorso Sonzogno, three distinct epochs in the work’s history may be discerned:
a. the one-act opera Le Willis performed at the Teatro Dal Verme in 1884, slightly altered, but otherwise corresponding to the work submitted to the Concorso Sonzogno in 1883. This work is published separately in the edition as Le Willis;
b. an early two-act version of Le Villi (initially lacking Roberto’s Romanza) containing the long version of Roberto’s Scena “Per te quaggiù”, and dating from 1884-85. This version differs from Le Willis in structure and orchestration, and is aesthetically and structurally distinct from the 1889 version;
c. the final version of Le Villi, incorporating revisions made since 1885 (and extensively in 1889 for that year’s production at the Teatro Dal Verme), which contains further revisions to the orchestration, and radically shortens Roberto’s Scena “Per te quaggiù”.

This edition presents the final 1889 version of Le Villi. Alternatively, Appendices 1 and 2 make possible the performance of the “early” version of Le Villi from 1884-85 with the longer version of Roberto’s Scena drammatica (with or without the Romanza “Torna ai felici dì”, which can be omitted).

The autograph full score represents Le Villi ’s textual state as it stood in March 1885. Puccini’s subsequent revisions – most importantly the 1889 changes – would not have been entered into the autograph, but rather into a master copy of the full score prepared for in-house circulation. Textual authority thus passed from the autograph into this score, from which the publisher would have produced rental copies for circulation to theatres (the full score was never engraved or published). All of these scores – and hence the entire post-1885 tradition of orchestral revisions and corrections – were lost in 1943, when the Ricordi offices were fire-bombed and much important material burned.

It was a requirement of the Sonzogno competition that entries be submitted in both vocal-score and orchestral formats. The fact that, from early in its existence, Le Villi existed as parallel documents has important ramifications for the present edition. The source collation reveals that the relationship between these two documents was not one of subsidiarity, with the full score as “master” and the vocal score as a mere “representation” (as the term “piano reduction” might imply).

Instead, authority came to be shared (or divided) between the two documents from a very early stage. The vocal performing materials used for the Dal Verme production of Le Willis, for example, were not extracted from the autograph full score, but from the conjectural source, assumed to have been the Sonzogno manuscript vocal score.