• details

    • Order numbers: AM 109-010
      Hal Leonard # 4000269
    • Instrumentation: wind orchestra
    • Duration: 3'30
    • Grade: 4
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The Witches' Sabbath - Giacomo Puccini

('La Tregenda' from the opera Le Villi)
Giacomo Puccini/Arr. Johan de Meij
Puccini in his home in Torre di Lago
Recorded on CD Amstel Classics 2010-01

Giacomo Puccini composed his first music theatre work, Le Villi, for the 1883 competition of one-act operas, issued by the publisher Sonzogno in the periodical Il Teatro illustrato. Puccini did not even earn an honourable mention with this work, probably because he had written the score in such a great hurry that it was hardly legible.

For the hugely successful first performance of the work, Puccini received financial support by the librettist Arrigo Boito. Subsequently, the publisher Giulio Ricordi engaged Puccini, which proved to be a profitable move.  Ricordi asked the composer to expand the work, so Puccini created a final version in 1892. It premiered in Hamburg the same year ­– by no less a conductor than Gustav Mahler.

The poet Heinrich Heine once wrote the following about the fairy-like figures called ‘Villi’ or ‘Wilis’: “Wilis are betrothed maidens who died before their weddings. These poor creatures cannot find rest in their graves.  In their dead hearts, in their dead feet, the passion for dancing lives on.  A passion that they could not satisfy in their lifetime. At midnight they appear in groups along country lanes.  Woe betide the young man who encounters them! He will be forced to dance with them, and he must dance until he drops dead!”

Puccini wrote two movements for a symphonic intermezzo between the two acts – L'Abbandono (The Desertion) and La Tregenda (The Witches’ Sabbath). The main character, Roberto, is bewitched and as a result forgets about his beloved Anna: She waits for the duration of three seasons, and finally dies in Roberto’s absence. During the intermezzo, the legend of the ‘Villi’ is explained: When a woman dies of a broken heart, the fairies force the heartbreaker to dance himself to death. 

Anthony Fiumara