"Edgar" at Konzerthaus Berlin
Giacomo Puccini would no doubt have been delighted to see his early work, one he so often revised himself but that was gradually forgotten by the public, so highly acclaimed: After the first and only performance of his opera “Edgar” last Monday evening at the sold-out Konzerthaus Berlin, it seemed the applause of the enthusiastic audience would never end. The kudos went to the Berliner Operngruppe, led by artistic director and conductor Felix Krieger, for their outstanding performances and to Bertelsmann for its support. The company had made the performance of such an opera possible for the third time. The originals of Puccini’s second opera are housed at the Bertelsmann-owned Archivio Storico Ricordi in Milan.
The prominent guests in the Konzerthaus auditorium included Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO Thomas Rabe; Their Excellencies Wepke Kingma, Michael Collins and Ricardo Martínez Vázquez, the ambassadors of the Netherlands, Ireland, and Spain; Michael Eissenhauer, the General Director of the Berlin State Museums - Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation; Günter Winands, Head of the Culture and Media Department at the Federal Chancellery; Pierluigi Ledda, Director of the Archivio Storico Ricordi; RTL correspondent Antonia Rados; and the Editor-in-Chief for New Business Areas at Gruner + Jahr, Christian Krug.
The opera about love, loyalty and betrayal, which was first performed in Milan in 1889, was brought to the stage in Berlin in the final, compact three-act version of 1905. The original version comprised four acts and was repeatedly adapted by the composer – a fact that can also be seen in the originals in the Milan Archive, as Felix Krieger enthusiastically stated in his studies. Just as the audience rewarded the protagonists’ solos with shouts of “bravo” at the end, the media also praised the conductor’s performance and the singers’ performances in their reviews the next day. They also identified a number of elements in the early opera by which the genius of Giacomo Puccini could already be recognized – and which, incidentally, were later reused in a number of other of his operas.
The leading roles were prominently cast with tenor Peter Auty as Edgar, soprano Elena Rossi as Fidelia, mezzosoprano Silvia Beltrami as Tigrana, and baritone Aris Argiris as Frank. Up-and-coming talent David Ostrek, who has already had his first performances in the Berlin State Opera’s Opernstudio, sponsored by Liz Mohn, gave a brilliant performance as Gualtiero. Director Thilo Reinhardt was responsible for the stage design, Steffen Schubert for the choir production. After the long applause, many members of the ensemble and numerous other guests made their way to a reception at Bertelsmann Unter den Linden 1, where they ended the evening in a relaxed atmosphere. There, the conductor once again expressed his sincere thanks for Bertelsmann’s support in bringing lesser-known operas to the attention of the public.
The Berliner Operngruppe (Berlin Opera Group)
The Berliner Operngruppe is a private initiative that, for several years now, has devoted itself to the performance and rediscovery of rare Italian operas. Under the leadership of conductor Felix Krieger, it has united professional musicians, music students and amateurs since 2010 to rediscover and put on semi-staged performances of special works of opera literature. Since 2017 it has been supported by Bertelsmann as its main sponsor.
For many years, Bertelsmann has been engaged in a variety of cultural initiatives both in Germany and internationally. The Group’s “Culture@Bertelsmann” activities comprise exhibitions, readings and concerts, the “Blue Sofa” literary format, as well as a commitment to preserving Europe’s cultural heritage. Beyond its efforts for the Archivio Storico Ricordi, Bertelsmann – as a company with a long history in filmmaking – also supports and sponsors the restoration, digitization and screening of major silent films.