The Metropolitan Opera HD Live: Season 1, Episode 6

Puccini's Il trittico (16 Jun. 2007)

TV Episode  |  Music
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In the early 1900s, two operas by Richard Strauss (Salome and Elektra) were taking Europe by storm. The Italian composer Puccini is said to have looked at the scores and observed, "There is... See full summary »



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Title: Puccini's Il trittico (16 Jun 2007)

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Episode credited cast:
Alms Collector
Stephanie Blythe ...
Frugola / The Princess / Zita
David Cangelosi ...
Patrick Carfizzi ...
Betto Di Signa
Jennifer Check ...
Sister Dolcina / Nella
Alessandro Corbelli ...
Gianni Schicchi
Barbara Dever ...
The Mistress of Novices
Donato Di Stefano ...
Bernard Fitch ...
Barbara Frittoli ...
Sister Angelica
Jane Gilbert ...
Alms Collector
Massimo Giordano ...
Heidi Grant Murphy ...
Sister Genovieffa
Maria Guleghina ...


In the early 1900s, two operas by Richard Strauss (Salome and Elektra) were taking Europe by storm. The Italian composer Puccini is said to have looked at the scores and observed, "There is nothing here but algebra and mathematics; where is the music?" True or not, in any case, Puccini set out to show that he too could compose one-act operas, and in different styles. Hence, Il Trittico (The Tryptich), a set of three operas, each less than an hour long, each different from the other two. The first, Il Tabarro (The Cloak) is a moody, macabre story of a spurned husband determined to discover the man who has seduced his wife away from him, and this is the night he finally learns who that man is. The second opera, Suor Angelica (Sister Angelique) is a frank tear-jerker about a young woman forced into a convent by her aristocratic family after she has given birth to a child out of wedlock. For seven years she has waited for news about him, and on this day, her prayers will be answered. The ... Written by dnitzer

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16 June 2007 (USA)  »

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20 September 2007 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

This is a welcome opportunity to see Il Trittico in its entirety. It was originally written for the Met and perhaps only the Met these days has the money and the resources to put on these three short operas in one evening. Puccini's agent warned him that the pieces would be performed out of context and that is how it has proved to be.

The most successful of the three pieces is Gianni Schicchi. It is often performed on its own or in a pairing with some other one act opera. It is a brilliant ensemble piece and the New York cast do it full justice, particularly Alessandro Corbelli as Schicchi. I have seen three productions of this piece and Corbelli has played the title role in all of them. This production is, more that usual, a love letter to Florence with the final, brief, scene depicting a panoramic view of Florence as seen from Fiesole.

The evening starts with Il Tabarro, a melodrama set on a French Barge. Maria Guleghina impresses in the verismo role of Giorgetta. As her lover, Luigiu, tenor Salvatore Licitra reveals hidden depths. I rarely find him believable in heroic roles but, here, he makes a convincing longshoreman with his typical tenor barrel-chest and stubby neck making him look strangely handsome.

The middle section is the rarely performed Suor Angelica. When you see it you understand why. The first half, depicting everyday life in a nunnery is Sound of Music-lite. Barbara Frittoli plays a theologically challenged nun who takes poison so that she can be reunited with her infant son in heaven. Too late she realises that suicides go straight to Hell so she will not be seeing her son this side of eternity. It is worth sticking with because, at the climax Frittoli gets to tear off her wimple and has some thrilling music as she thrashes around on the ground begging the Virgin Mary to intercede for her. One for devout Catholics only, I fear.

Stage Director Steve Ruggi introduces the evening by saying that the triptych depicts Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. I think it would be more accurate to say that it is three meditations on Hell. Giorgetta in Il Trittico endures a living Hell with her elderly husband. Suor Angelica escapes Hell by the intervention of the Virgin Mary. Gianni Schicchi forges a will to everyone's satisfaction but is condemned to Hell for his pains.

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