Premiere of Jérusalem at Festival Verdi in Parma

Premiere of Jérusalem at Festival Verdi in Parma

Festival Verdi 2017 opens September 28 at Parma’s Teatro Regio with a performance of a revamped version of Jérusalem, Giuseppe Verdi’s first opera in French, which premiered November 26, 1847 at the Paris Opéra.  
The cast includes Annick Massis (Hélène), Ramon Vargas (Gaston), and Michele Pertusi. Daniele Callegari conducts the Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic Orchestra and the Teatro Regio Choir. Direction, scenery and costumes by Hugo de Ana. Repeat performances: October 8, 12 and 20.

The latest critical edition in the series The Works of Giuseppe Verdi / Le Opere di Giuseppe Verdi (Ricordi and The University of Chicago Press), edited by Jürgen Selk, is set for release, and features a revised version of Verdi’s Jérusalem.  Revision was scrupulously based on Verdi’s autograph score, and also made use of parts and other materials of great importance, today housed in the Bibliothéque de l’Opéra, which document performance practices and customs in mid-19th century Paris. 

Verdi, like his predecessors Rossini and Donizetti, made his debut at the Paris Opéra with a work that was not wholly new, but consisted of an adaptation of his own 1843 opera I lombardi alla prima crociata.  With its broad historical framework, religious themes, and the many opportunities the work provides for lavish visual effects and choral scenes rife with scenic impact and drama, I lombardi alla prima crociata was well suited to be adapted for the Opéra. Verdi prepared an all-new autograph score, modifying or cutting what was already there, and adding new music, which was mostly focused on dance aspects and the magnificent scene of degradation in act 3. He also recycled dawn from the Prologue of his 1846 opera Attila.  

Photo: sketch of the scene by Hugo de Ana