Il Trittico, G. Puccini
Maestro Giacomo Puccini had long established himself as one of opera’s greatest names with his expansive dramatic works when his musical curiosity pushed him towards shorter forms. Inspired by the avantgarde works of contemporaries such as Arnold Schoenberg, Claude Debussy or Igor Stravinsky, he created three one-act operas, each with its distinct musical character, plot and genre. This exciting package of ‘short-form Puccini’ is known as Il Trittico (The Triptych) and now plays at Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence.
Il Trittico starts with Il Tabarro (The Cloak), a melodrama centred around the love triangle between barge owner Michele, his wife Giorgetta and her lover Luigi. Puccini injects all the emotional intensity of the plot into his characters’ arias and duets, and the orchestral passages drive the action to its dramatic culmination: the jealous Michele kills Luigi and covers his body with a cloak, so he can pull it off later in front of Giorgetta for a gruesome climax.
Then comes Suor Angelica, a profoundly sad story about a young noble lady who falls from grace by bearing an illegitimate son who dies soon after birth. Shunned by society and her own family, Angelica mourns her ill fate with the beautiful, heart-breaking aria ‘Senza mamma, o bimbo, tu sei morto’ and takes poison. As her life is draining slowly, the young woman has a vision of the Virgin Mary who welcomes her into heaven and reunites her with her lost child.
To lift the audience’s spirits, Il Trittico ends with Gianni Schicchi, a comedy whose titular character is a self-serving trickster lifted directly from Dante’s Inferno. Gianni assumes the identity of a recently deceased local aristocrat in order to tamper with his will and to give a blessing to a young couple to marry across established social classes. The score is playful and vivid, and the unchained melody of ‘O mio babbino caro’ will instantly put you in a good mood.
Il Trittico had its debut on 14 December 1918 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Audiences were accustomed to Puccini’s long-form dramatic works and, though positively impressed, did not give this compilation lasting popular attention. Therefore, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence is offering you a relatively rare opportunity to experience the lesser known Puccini now – make sure you take it!