Soon after 1910 Puccini conceived the idea of a Dante Trilogy. In love with Dantes Divine Comedy,the first one act opera Il Tabarro was to represent the inferno of human misery,the second Suor Angelica would stand for Purgatory,and the cheerful third opera Gianni Schicchi for paradise as Mosco Carner has pointed out in his biography of Puccini.The scores of these three operas were started in 1915 and finished April 1918 during the First world war.The premiere was held at the Metropolitan opera,New York,December 14,1918. Guido Ricordi his publisher before his death in 1912, had warned Puccini that sets of one act operas lacked box office returns.Also they are often prised apart and matched to works by other composers. Only Gianni Schicchi is very popular, the other two opera not so. The pity is that although this set is 18O minutes excluding intervals, with intervals would end up being the same time as Wagners Gotterdammerung.The secret is start the performance of the three operas earlier.
Il Tabarro's libretto is by Guiseppe Adami adapted from a one act play La Houppelande(the Cloak) by Didier Gold.The opera is one of lust,jealousy and murder,the most verismo of Puccini's operas.The opera is set on a barge on the river Seine in Paris.However Puccini's impressionistic portrait of the river and the sounds of Paris,in fact the entire opera established him as a great orchestrator. Toscanni refused to conduct the first performance of Il Tabarro even though Puccini wanted him to because he hated it.
Richard Jones is the director of Il Trittico.The first opera is set in the 1930's,the second in the 1920's and the third is a combination of the 1950's and early 1960's.The first two operas I would consider traditional. Antonio Pappano conducts the orchestra of the Royal Opera house in IL Trittico with his usual passion and the right tempo's. He is renowned for being a singers conductor and bringing the best out of them.
Il Tabarro evokes the French cinema of the 1930's as do the Costumes. The scenery consists of warehouse buildings and an office set in a darkened area,with a half hidden neon sign in a alley. The barge sits in front of this backdrop.So all the action takes place around this area.In IL Tabarro Giorgetta is Eva-Maria Westbroek, a warm toned dramatic soprano bringing out all the lyrical and emotional qualities of the part. Lucio Gallo is a lyrical baritone with a distinctive voice,where he was heard as Rance,the Sheriff in the Mets latest traditional staging of Puccini's La Fancuilla del West. As Michele the husband of Giorgetta who cheats on him,Gallo brings a certain pathos and emotional sadness to the part. Luigi, the lover, is the tenor Alexsandrs Antonenko, where he showed great promise as Othello in the bluray conducted by Muti with the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra.He has developed into a fine dramatic tenor with the Domingo approach. One only has to hear "thats not what I dream of",a stunning beautiful duet with Westbroek,to know this he has turned Luigi into a highly charged performance,more then whats on offer on the other bluray and DVD of these operas.I must make mention of Irina Mishura who is Frugola who makes her part her own. The other parts are well taken.
Suor Angelica's Libretto is by Forzano based on his own idea.Exclusively for womans voices and whose music is gentle.Angelica has come to set right an old sin. She had given birth to a child and had abandoned it. Upon learning from her aunt that the child had died,Angelica prays for forgiveness,and commits suicide. The orchestral intermezzo and Sanza Mamma are well known.A beautiful opera. One of Puccini's sisters was a nun and become Mother Superior herself eventually in an Augustinian convent near Torre del Lago. So he knew something of the Nuns experiences. When he played the piece to them on the piano,they were in tears at the end.This opera was his favourite of the three. Puccini was not religious,as is the case with Verdi.The opera is not set in a traditional convent setting,but a convent hospital painted in a light green, filled with small children.The scenery changes to the front of the hospital.It is set in the 1920's,the nuns wear white and light garb of that era.
Sister Angelica is Ermonela Jaho who brings tears to the eyes in the part,she makes it believeable, especially being around children.She finds out from her aunt,the Princess, that her own child has died. Anna Larsson is the aunt. In their interaction between the ice cold aunt and warm niece, you see the beginnings of Turnadot and Liu. There the first musical chords of his last opera is heard. Mention must be made of the Abbess,Mezzo Irina Mishura.All the parts are well taken. Both operas are traditional staged.
Gianni Schicchi set to a libretto by Forzano is based upon a few lines from Dantes Inferno containing the character of Gianni Schicchi.He is placed in hell for falsifying a will.The sets are of the 1950's into the early 1960's as are the costumes.Lucio Gallo, very thin is Schicchi and probably the funnest. His Baritone voice is highly suitable to the part,being a good actor as are all the singers in Il Trittico.Rinuccio,Zitas nephew,Francesco Demuro, the tenor is good in the part as the lover of Lauretta and has a great future ahead of him. Lauretta,daughter of Schicchi, sings O mio babbino probably better then that on other blurays of this opera.Ekaterina Siurina is a find. Zita,Elena Zillo, Simone Gwynne Howell are good. La Ciesca Marie Mc Laughlin has been around for a long time and sings well,as do the others, especially in the ensembles. I like this opera very much.
How does this Trittico compare to the Reynolds conducted Bluray or DVD,with Amarilli Nizza and Alberto Mastromarino. I would not wish to part with it. It is basically traditional and well sung, although I like Nizza she does not have that passionate voice that Westbroek and Jaho has. I like both for different reasons. So if you have not got Il Trittico,the Pappano is the one to have,if you have the Reynolds, get this one as well. I have.
EMI La Scala Edition Vol 1 1878-1914. 3 cds. EMI La Scala Edition Vol 2 1915-1946. 3 cds.
ALL REGIONS. stereo 2.O. Dts HD Master stereo. 16.9. Subtitles: English. french.German. Spanish. Italian. Features.
References. Puccini. (1978). Weaver. Metropolitan opera Guild. The complete operas of Puccini-(1981)- Osbourne. Puccini- Conrad Wilson. (1997).