Verdi and Puccini Heroines


Hardcover Edition

Paperback Edition

This Amazon “bestseller in Verdi”

     and “bestseller in Puccini”

          is featured in study guides

               and recommended reading lists

                    by the Teatro alla Scala,

                         and Lyric Opera of Chicago

Opera lovers, singers, directors, and critics alike remain fascinated by the dramatic soprano roles created by Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini.

In VERDI AND PUCCINI HEROINES, Geoffrey and Ryan Edwards go beyond inherited scholarly interpretation to gain a richer understanding of these compelling characters, whose complex psychologies and interpersonal relationships provide a powerful and enduring image of humanity.

Artistically limited by the bel canto musical conventions of the time, Verdi launched a new style of dramma per musica that demanded a new type of heroine.  Exploring text, music, and staging, this book illustrates the evolution of the Verdi and Puccini soprano while revealing the dramatic scope and power of these great female characters.

Reviews and Recommendations

“In VERDI AND PUCCINI HEROINES: DRAMATIC CHARACTERIZATION IN GREAT SOPRANO ROLES, Geoffrey Edwards and Ryan Edwards trace the evolution of a new type of soprano through seven operas:

IL TROVATORE, LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, AIDA, LA BOHÈME, TOSCA, MADAMA BUTTERFLY, and TURANDOT.  By studying characterization through the interaction of text, music, and staging, the authors provide insight into these specific female roles and illustrate the dramatic importance of the new operatic persona in general.

“In effortless prose, as fluid as a Verdi or Puccini melody, the authors outline character development from literary conception, through the composers’ thoughts on the characters, to the final dramatic effect.  Using libretto source, score, authorial correspondence, reviews, and prompt books from nineteenth-century European productions as their guide, the authors carefully plot the character’s psychological state.  Each chapter focuses on one opera, and each begins with an examination of the work’s general themes and dilemmas encountered by the characters.  The authors point out the psychological significance of the opera’s events – with special attention paid to the character's arias – as indicated by the music.  Excerpts from the libretto, with an English translation, are correlated to a study of the music.  A useful aspect of the Edwards study is the examination of the significance of both the heroine’s presence in a scene and the dramatic reason for her silence or absence.  Analysis teems with passages from critiques and staging directions from early performances.  A single appendix supplies a plot synopsis of the opera and a concise explanation of how the dramatic character in the opera’s literary basis differs from that of the opera.  The endnotes are detailed and thorough, and an extensive bibliography underlines the well researched nature of the volume.

“The authors draw upon their experience from both sides of the stage lights.  Geoffrey Edwards is a stage director who earned a PhD in Theatre and Drama from Northwestern University.  His father, Ryan Edwards, is a leading baritone with the Metropolitan Opera.  Their collaborative volume offers new perspectives on these significant female characters and insight into the dramatic intent of Verdi and Puccini.”


Listed in “Bibliografia Essenziale su Giacomo Puccini e MADAMA BUTTERFLY,” Teatro alla Scala, Milan.

Listed in “Further Reading: MADAMA BUTTERFLY,” Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Listed in “Learn More about LA BOHÈME,” Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Listed in LA BOHÈME: A STUDY GUIDE, Florida Grand Opera, Miami.

Listed in “AIDA: Recommended Listening and Reading,” Pittsburgh Opera.

Listed in TURANDOT: STUDY GUIDE, Portland Opera.

Listed in “Bibliografia Verdiana,” STUDI VERDIANI (Istituto Nazionale di Studi Verdiani, Parma).

Listed in “Studi Critici,” Centro Studi Giacomo Puccini, Lucca.

Recommended in HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF OPERA (one of only five gender/characterization

         studies for the 19th century), by Scott L. Balthazar (Rowman & Littlefield).

Listed in OPERA: THE BASICS, by Denise Gallo (Routledge).


         by Martin Chusid (University of Rochester Press).

“Bestsellers in Verdi” list on

Listed in “Most Wished For in Books” as one of the most popular Verdi items added to Wish Lists

         and Registries on

Listed in “Most Gifted in Books” as one of the most popular Verdi items ordered as gifts on

“Bestsellers in Puccini” list on

Listed in “Most Wished For in Books” as one of the most popular Puccini items added to Wish Lists

          and Registries on

Listed in “Most Gifted in Books” as one of the most popular Puccini items ordered as gifts on

As the authors argue, “Verdi and Puccini heroines illuminate the torment, the ecstasy, and the enduring mysteries of existence.  Theirs is a universal quest for meaning amidst the transient shadows of human life.  In their spiritual and temporal struggles, in their imperishable hopes and dreams, in their suffering and triumphs, in their very lives and deaths, these women are of all humanity, and for all humanity.”

Perfect for role preparation, coaching, or pure enjoyment, this book provides detailed character studies of the heroines in IL TROVATORE, LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, AIDA, LA BOHÈME, TOSCA, MADAMA BUTTERFLY, and TURANDOT.  Each chapter includes a fully self-contained character analysis, along with translations, illustrative musical examples, supplementary notes, and source comparisons.