Alberto Veronesi conducts tenor Plácido Domingo, soprano Violeta Urmana and the Vienna Philharmonic in original editions and alternative versions of famous Puccini arias and ensembles, as well as little-known orchestral compositions, on a new recording released by Deutsche Grammophon September 22. The album is the first commercial recording of abandoned or variant versions of music from La Rondine, Madama Butterfly, Edgar, Manon Lescaut, La fanciulla del West, and Suor Angelica, taken from Puccini’s early stages of composition and subsequently revised scores. The works are performed from new editions by Puccini scholar Michael Kaye.
Puccini Rediscovered is Alberto Veronesi’s second album in an ongoing collaboration with Deutsche Grammophon of recordings dedicated to the post-Romantic Italian operatic tradition known as Verismo. The series began in 2006 with the critically acclaimed complete recording of Puccini’s early opera Edgar with Plácido Domingo in the title role. Upcoming recordings in the series include Mascagni's L'amico Fritz with Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna and the Deutsche Oper Berlin, to be released in November 2009, and three additional recordings to be released in 2010 including Giordano's Fedora with Ms. Gheorghiu and Mr. Domingo, Leoncavallo's I Medici with Mr. Domingo, and Mr. Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci with Ms. Gheorghiu and Mr. Alagna. Mr. Veronesi has also recorded Leoncavallo's La Nuit de mai with Mr. Domingo on an album that includes several arias performed with pianist Lang Lang.
In speaking of Puccini Rediscovered, Mr. Veronesi said: “This is a CD of Puccini’s most beautiful and famous arias, duets and pieces for orchestra in the original versions, which are generally a little different from the versions we are familiar with. It includes recently discovered works, such as ‘Sia benedetto il giorna,’ the Edgar love duet from Act 4; works added after a first performance, such as ‘Amici fiori’ from Suor Angelica; or changed for particular performances, such as ‘Ed ora bevo all’amor’ from Rondine. The Intermezzo to Act 3 of Manon Lescaut, which was included in the original but never used, is also included, and opening the CD is Preludio a Orchestra, Puccini’s very first orchestral piece, written when he was 16 years old. I am delighted to bring these rarely or never-before-heard works of this great Italian master to today’s music-lovers.”
Mr. Veronesi has done extensive research on works from the late 19th to early 20th Century Verismo operatic repertoire by composers such as Pietro Mascagni, Ruggiero Leoncavallo and Giacomo Puccini, among others, and has programmed and recorded lesser known works in an effort to give this underexposed repertoire a wider audience and establish new masterworks. Born in Milan, Mr. Veronesi studied at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory and while a student, founded the Guido Cantelli Orchestra, which has since remained in residence at the Conservatory. He directed the orchestra until 2000, including performances at the Salzburg Easter Festival (at the invitation of Claudio Abbado), Teatro alla Scala and Maggio Musicale. In 1999, Mr. Veronesi was appointed Musical Director of the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago, where he has not only since conducted all of Puccini's operas but was also actively involved the construction of a new opera house. In 2003, his production of La Bohème at the Festival won the Premio Abbiati, awarded by the Italian Music Critics Association. His performances at the Festival in 2009 included a new production of Manon Lescaut and a gala concert with soprano Angela Gheorghiu.
In 2001 Mr. Veronesi was named Artistic and Musical Director of the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana in Palermo, where he is performing complete cycles of symphonies by Beethoven, Bruckner, Mahler and Shostakovich, as well as giving prominence to 20th-century Italian symphonic music and continuing to program contemporary works. He was also recently named Artistic Director of the Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Veronesi has led orchestras in New York, Rome, Tokyo, Athens, and Tel Aviv among other cities, and at opera houses such as Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and La Monnaie Bruxelles. He lives in Palermo with his wife and young daughter.