Editions of the Operas

In the Ruth T. Watanabe Special Collections

Sibley Music Library
Eastman School of Music
Rochester, New York

Sion M. Honea
Special Collections
Librarian & Archivist

Michael V. Pisani

Michael Hager

Sam W. Tooley
Web Design

© 1997 Sibley Music Library


Giacomo Puccini



Editor’s Introduction
Manon Lescaut
La bohème
Madama Butterfly
La fanciulla del West
La rondine
Il trittico


Cecil Hopkinson’s A Bibliography of the Works of Giacomo Puccini is an invaluable aid to anyone wrestling with the complexity of Puccini editions. It is amazing that Hopkinson could have accomplished as much as he did at a time prior to the ubiquity of photocopying and while having to rely on direct personal observation and title page transcriptions. The contribution of the book is in no way diminished, however, by the honest observation that it possesses flaws. I first became more than theoretically aware of those flaws when, under the impetus of a donation for the development of our Puccini resources, I began to examine our holdings in detail. The process of identifying a copy in hand with a particular Hopkinson citation was often laborious, frustrating, and inconclusive. The lack of a title page facsimile proved to be the most consistent impediment. At times I was morally, but not intellectually, certain that Hopkinson had simply omitted "Londra" or "[decorated rule]" from his transcription, but I had no way to verify it. In publishing the resources for Puccini research in the Sibley Music Library’s Watanabe Special Collections, we hope to perform a service beyond simple advertisement by supplying such title page facsimiles.

I have mentioned the impetus to our present work. It is rare to find a donor who is avidly interested in collection development. It is even more rare to find one who possesses generosity, intelligence, and courtesy in equal measure. John F. Flagg has proven himself repeatedly to be such a one. Dr. Flagg’s distinguished career in science and business did not diminish his zeal for music as an accomplished amateur musician, amateur in the best and highest sense. It is, perhaps, his breadth of experience that enables him to understand so fully that collection development includes not only the addition of items but undertakings such as this, which he has underwritten in full. I must admit, however, that the greatest pleasure I personally have received from our association in this endeavor has not been the contribution to our collection but the opportunity to come to know people of the character of John Flagg and his wife Georgia. It is a great pleasure to be able to acknowledge their contribution in this public way.

There are many who have contributed much to this work. Michael Pisani is deservedly the author of the volume, for he undertook the necessary research and production of the text. Ian Quinn from the staff of Watanabe Special Collections is responsible for the design and layout of the book as well as the technical work of production. The Office of Institutional Advancement of the Eastman School of Music has generously lent its resources, especially the expertise of Marybeth Crider and Allison Duffey. At an earlier stage, Laura Snyder, associate head of technical services at Sibley Music Library, contributed much toward the identification of the items and their cataloging. This catalog is produced in conjunction with activities surrounding a visit from Simonetta Puccini to Eastman School of Music in April 1997. This visit, and so this catalog, would never have taken place without the expeditious and energetic action of James Undercofler, acting director of the School, who seized the opportunity that appeared at rather short notice. I cannot omit mention of the entire staff of the Sibley Music Library, led by Mary Davidson. I am very much aware that the work and any success of Watanabe Special Collections is made possible by their knowledge, expertise, technical skills and moral support.

Sion M. Honea
Special Collections Librarian and Archivist

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This catalog contains title-page facsimiles of the operas of Giacomo Puccini that are held in the Ruth T. Watanabe Special Collections of Sibley Library. Watanabe Special Collections owns a variety of editions of all the Puccini operas except for the earliest, Le Villi. The critical importance of these editions is well known to scholars and students of Puccini’s music.

Puccini’s twelve operas each have a distinct editorial history, which are also directly linked with their performance histories. Puccini was a musician with the highest professional standards who possessed a keen and uncompromising theatrical sensibility. Following an opera’s premiere, he often engaged in a process of revision and modification that continued sometimes through one or more versions until the work reached a form that satisfied him. The immense popularity of Puccini’s operas meant that he had to work quickly if he was unhappy with a first version in order to intercept continued publication of that version. Most of Puccini’s subsequent revisions, then, usually occurred within a few months or years of the first edition. Puccini did not generally return to earlier operas, as some nineteenth-century opera composers did, to improve or update them.

For most of his career, Puccini worked with only one publishing firm Casa Ricordi. Until Giulio Ricordi died in 1912, the publisher was instrumental in the development of the operas from conceptual stage to completed work, even, in some cases, urging Puccini to revise between performance and publication. Sometimes Puccini’s changes to second and third editions were minor ones. For example, revised version of Tosca that followed its premiere in 1900 reflect occasional changes in the text and only a few small cuts. In general, however, Puccini’s modifications to most of his operas were extensive and often occurred incrementally through successive versions. He revised Madama Butterfly several times between 1904 and 1906, and each edition entails substantial musical changes, many of these including pages of cuts or entirely rewritten passages. For some operas, later versions involve short but critical changes, such as the few measures Puccini shortened in Rodolfo’s climactic outburst at the conclusion of La bohème. In a few telling cases, revised editions reflect the composer’s indecision. A case in point in the final act of Manon Lescaut, with which Puccini never seemed satisfied. He later added material that he had already once removed in an earlier version. The only opera that he did not modify in any way was, of course, Turandot, the opera left unfinished at his death in 1924. The two published versions of this opera reflect the work as it was first performed, with Alfano’s music for the final scenes, and with a conclusion later shortened and adapted by Toscanini, who conducted the premiere. For most of his operas, Puccini’s final approved versions are the ones that are largely performed today, although occasionally directors or conductors will restore cuts from operas such as Madama Butterfly or La fanciulla del West.

Numerous musical and textual differences among published scores provide obvious challenges to any interpreter of Puccini’s operas. Cecil Hopkinson attempted to sort out this problem with the publication of A Bibliography of the Works of Giacomo Puccini (New York: Broude Brothers, 1968). For each of the Puccini publications in this catalog, I have used Hopkinson’s labeling for the various versions of a work, and I have provided the number that he assigned to each version and variant. (For example, 4C is Hopkinson’s bibliographical reference for La bohème, Puccini’s fourth opera in its third published version.)

Each title-page facsimile in this catalog is followed by brief bibliographic information. Entries include the version of the opera that the publication represents, the publisher’s plate number, the month and year of the Ricordi stamp (invisible on these reproductions), the number of pages of music, and notes relating to the specific publication. Proof copies and manuscripts are referred to the Hopkinson edition to which they most closely relate. Beginning with Madama Butterfly, Puccini’s publishers began to show more attention to graphic design of the vocal scores, and when line drawings and illustrations exist, I referred to these as decorative editions. For each work I have indicated the genre (i.e., "melodramma") as designated by the publisher on the title page.

Michael V. Pisani

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This page is designed by Sam W. Tooley. Last updated 17 April 1997.