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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Il Trittico

Played together, these three short operas form one of Puccini's most ambitious works.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Placido Domingo (seen here as Giorgio Germont in La Traviata) sings the title role in Gianni Schicchi
in the Met's revival of Puccini's Il Trittico. Photo by Ken Howard © 2016 The Metropolitan Opera. 

The Met revives its 2007 presentation of three one-act operas performed in the course of a single evening. This is a centennial revival of these works, that premiered at the Met in 1918. A single production of these very different works, this is a long evening of worthy and wonderful music, which includes Puccini's only stage comedy.

What is Il Trittico?
Puccini's final completed work is a "triptych" of three individual operas with no connection in plot or action. Depending on how you calculate, it marked the composer's second (and third and fourth) world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera. Il Tabarro is a violent verismo shocker, Suor Angelica a moving drama set in a convent, and Gianni Schicchi a comedic farce set in Renaissance Florence.

What are the operas about?
Il Tabarro "The Cloak" is the story of a love triangle on a Paris barge that ends (as most verismo pieces do, in bloody murder and revenge. Suor Angelica is a character study of a guilt-ridden nun trapped in a convent and haunted by her past. Gianni Schicchi (pronounced "Yann-ee Skee-kee") is the story of a wily  con man asked to help a large family deal with a problematic will.

Tell me something else interesting?
These three operas can be performed seperately and can even be successfully paired with other operas. (Il Tabarro goes well with Leoncavallo's Pagliacci and once the Met even tried pairing Suor Angelica with Strauss' Salome!) However a complete performance of Trittico is like a meal at a good trattoriat: a spicy first course, a filling main and then Schicchi, a palate-cleanser with magnificent music and an actual happy ending.

What's the music like?
It's Puccini. Each short opera has magnificent and memorable melodies, gorgeous, dense swathes of orchestration and opportunities for the singers to soar on wings of strings and wind. And Schicchi has one of the best-known Puccini melodies "O mio babbino caro" which brings smiles and tears even if you've never been to the opera before.

Who's in it?
Marcelo Àlvarez, George Gagnidze and Amber Wagner are the doomed triangle in Il Tabarro. Suor Angelica stars Kristine Opalais and Stephanie Blythe. And the star of Gianni Schicchi is Placido Domingo, trying his hand in a comic baritone role. He is surrounded by starry comic singers including Ms. Blythe. soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan as Lauretta (she gets the famous aria) and Maurizio Muraro. 

How's the production?
Staging Il Trittico is tricky since there is no unity of time and place between the three shows. Each of these stagings works well and aims for realism, and yet in the theater Jack O'Brien's theatrical vision conveys the definite connection which Puccini was trying to express.

When does Il Trittico open?
Just like back in 1918, he three operas all open on the same night, Nov. 23 and this writer can't wait.

Is there a Live in HD broadcast planned?
You would think we would be so lucky? But no. There is no broadcast planned. Go see it.

Where do I get tickets?></>b
Tickets are available through MetOpera.Org or by calling the box office at (212) 362-6000. You can save some money on service fees by going to the box office in person at the Met itself, located at 30 Lincoln Center Plaza.

Box office hours are: Monday to Saturday: 10am-8pm, Sunday: 12pm-6pm.

Which recordings do you recommend?

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