Il trittico | Giacomo Puccini
“Renew yourself or die”. Faithful to his motto, between 1913 and 1915 Puccini composed three one-act operas which differed from each other due to their setting, plot and musical style. The first is Il Tabarro, a tragedy of passion and jealousy that takes place in Paris, at the beginning of the twentieth-century, among the sailors of the Seine. The second, Suor Angelica, is a moving drama for female voices only: the protagonist is a woman who, forced by her family to take the vows, dreams of seeing her child again. Finally, Gianni Schicchi, whose black humour celebrates the greatest con man in Florence, condemned by Dante to Hell and redeemed here by his love for his daughter.
The three one-act operas are often performed separately, but Puccini saw them as a unitary path from darkness to light, the final effect of which is much more powerful than the simple sum of their parts. Il Trittico will be directed by Pinchas Steinberg, in his welcome return to the Regio. The new staging designed by Tobias Kratzer reinterprets the triad in modern key, enhancing the differences and, at the same time, creating cross-references and connections. The protagonist of Tabarro and of Gianni Schicchi will be the baritone Roberto Frontali, while Elena Stikhina and Anna Maria Chiuri will play the roles of Suor Angelica and the Aunt Princess.
Dramma in one act | Libretto by Giuseppe Adami
|Michele baritone||Roberto Fontali|
|Luigi tenor||Samuele Simoncini|
|Giorgetta soprano||Elena Stikhina|
|La Frugola mezzo-soprano||Annunziata Vestri|
|Il Tinca tenor||Roberto Covatta|
|Il Talpa bass||Giovanni Furlanetto|
|Young lover soprano||Lucrezia Drei|
|Young lover tenor||Matteo Mezzaro|
Opera in one act | Libretto by Giovacchino Forzano
|Suor Angelica soprano||Elena Stikhina|
|The Aunt Princess mezzo-soprano||Anna Maria Chiuri|
|The nursing sister and The Mistress
of the novices mezzo-soprano
|Tineke Van Ingelgem|
|The Monitress mezzo-soprano||Annunziata Vestri|
|Suor Genovieffa soprano||Lucrezia Drei|
|The Abbess mezzo-soprano||Elena Zilio|
|Suor Osmina soprano||Annelies Kerstens|
|First Sister and First Novice
Opera in one act | Libretto by Giovacchino Forzano
|Gianni Schicchi baritone||Roberto Frontali|
|Rinuccio tenor||Matteo Mezzaro|
|Lauretta soprano||Lucrezia Drei|
|Zita mezzo-soprano||Elena Zilio|
|Gherardo tenor||Roberto Covatta|
|Simone bass||Giovanni Furlanetto|
|La Ciesca mezzo-soprano||Tineke Van Ingelgem|
|Maestro Spinelloccio and
Ser Amantio di Nicolao baritone
Lecture-Concert: Wednesday 12 June at 6 pm - Piccolo Regio Puccini
Characters and cast
Anna Maria Chiuri
Tineke Van Ingelgem
Durante questa recita è attivo il Bimbi Club
During this performance the Baby Club is available
It is close to sunset in Paris, and the stevedores work unloading Michele's barge. Giorgetta, Michele's wife, asks her husband if she can bring wine to the workers. He agrees but does not join them because she refuses his kiss. The stevedores start dancing to the music of a nearby organ grinder and one of them steps on Giorgetta's foot. Luigi, a stevedore, dances with her, and it is evident that there is something between them. Upon hearing of Michele's return the stevedores' gathering breaks up.
Work is getting scarce and Giorgetta and Michele discuss which of the stevedores should be dismissed; she prefers that it be anyone other than Luigi despite him being Michele's first choice. Soon the conversation turns into a fight. La Frugola enters, looking for Talpa, her husband and one of the stevedores. She shows everyone the fruits of her scavenging in Paris and scolds the men for their drinking. Luigi laments his lot in life, and La Frugola sings of her wish to one day buy a house in the country where she and her husband can retire. Giorgetta and Luigi sing a duet about the town where they were both born.
The stevedores depart except for Luigi, who asks Michele to dismiss him and let him off in Rouen, but Michele convinces him against this, saying there is not enough work in Rouen. When they are alone, Giorgetta asks Luigi why he requested to be dismissed; the pair acknowledge their love. They plan to meet later that evening upon the signal of a match being lit on board. By now Luigi seems determined to kill Michele and flee with Giorgetta.
Michele later reminisces with Giorgetta of the days before their child died and how he could cover the two of them under his cloak. He is distressed about being twice her age; she comforts him but she still will not kiss him, and goes off.
Michele wonders aloud if Giorgetta is still faithful to him and ponders who might have changed her so much. He reviews the list of men who have shared in their lives but dismisses each of them as improbable. Michele lights his pipe and Luigi, seeing it from afar, thinks that it is Giorgetta's signal. He returns to the barge and is confronted by Michele. In the ensuing fight, Michele disarms Luigi and forces him to confess his affair with Giorgetta before strangling him to death and hiding Luigi's body under his cloak. Giorgetta returns to the barge, approaching him remorsefully after their fight earlier, and when she is close enough Michele opens his cloak to reveal her dead lover, Luigi's lifeless body falling on Giorgetta. Michele smothers her to death on Luigi's body.
In a convent, at dusk.
Nuns leave the chapel after having sung the Ave Maria. The Monitor chides some of the nuns for their failings; she then invites them all to take part in recreation. Sister Genovieffa is excited: this is the first of three evenings in spring when the rays of the sun at dusk illuminate the water of the fountain, making it appear golden. The occasion reminds everyone that a year has passed since the death of one of the sisters; Sister Genovieffa proposes that they carry a bucket of the “golden water” to her tomb. The nuns are certain that their defunct sister would have wanted it. Sister Angelica comments that only the living have desires, and that those of the dead are prayers from the Virgin, which are answered even before they are expressed. The Monitor observes that, in their state, the sisters cannot have desires even while living, shocking Sister Genovieffa, who, having been a young shepherdess, has no shame in confessing that she would like to hold a little lamb in her arms again. Sister Dolcina also confesses to having a desire, making the sisters laugh since they know how much she likes sweets. Sister Angelica instead denies wanting anything, which gives rise to murmuring: in fact, the sisters know that she has a burning desire for news of her family (she has heard nothing since entering the convent seven years ago) and there are rumors that she was forced by her family to take the veil in order to expiate a mysterious wrong. The chattering is interrupted by the infirmary Sister, who arrives out of breath: a nun has been attacked by a swarm of wasps. Sister Angelica runs to collect medicinal herbs, and the nurse thanks hers for always having “a good remedy, made from flowers”.
Two Alms-Collectors enter; they hand over the offerings to the Housekeeping Sister, and bring the news that outside the convent a luxurious carriage has stopped. Sister Angelica is deeply moved, since from the description she realizes that it is her family’s carriage. The Abbess tells her to calm down, announcing that her aunt the Princess has arrived for a visit, and admonishes her to behave appropriately in the convent parlor.
The Princess, encountering Sister Angelica, addresses her with detached haughtiness. She asks her to renounce her part of the inheritance in favor of her younger sister, who is about to marry, and takes the opportunity to remind her of the dishonor she has brought to the family. When Sister Angelica accuses her of being excessively harsh, the Princess replies that, when absorbed in prayer, she has the sensation that she is talking to her dead sister – Sister Angelica’s mother – and, when she rouses herself from that sort of mystic trance, she stores for her niece the exhortation to make amends. Sister Angelica, prostrate, retorts that she has offered everything to the Virgin, but that she can’t offer her to forget her son – the fruit of her “guilt” – whom she was able to embrace and kiss only once, before he was wrested from her. The Princess’s silence gives rise to a presentiment in Sister Angelica, confirmed when her aunt reveals, almost with indifference, that it’s been two years now since the baby took sick and died. Angelica is devastated. The Princess, instead of consoling her, has a document brought in that Sister Angelica, sapped of all willpower, signs.
Finally alone and almost in a trance, Sister Angelica pities the child who died without the comfort of his mother. The thought that he, in heaven, can now see her, makes her want to die to be able to embrace him again. The nuns return from the cemetery thanking the Virgin Mary for having answered their prayers, and this provokes in Sister Angelica a sort of ecstatic exaltation. It is by now night time. Sister Angelica lights a fire under a terracotta pot. Repeating with self-irony the words of the Infirmary Sister, she prepares a decoction of poisonous flowers. But as soon as she drinks the potion, she realizes with horror that, because there is no heaven for someone who commits suicide, with her action she has condemned herself to never seeing her son again. Dying, she begs the Madonna to save her. Sister Angelica hears the angels singing a hymn to the Mother of all Mothers, and sees, in a blazing light, a solemn female figure delicately coaxing a blonde child forward. One step at a time, he approaches Sister Angelica, who sinks gently to the ground.
Buoso Donati has just died. The relatives, gathered around his death-bed, feign great sorrow, but they are really worried about the will. In fact, there is a rumor that Buoso named as his heirs the monks of the monastery of Signa. Their only hope – observes the elderly Simone – is that the will is not in the hands of the notary, but is in the house. A frantic search for the will begins. The young Rinuccio finds the document: as a reward he asks the energetic and willful Aunt Zita permission, in case Buoso left him part of the inheritance, to marry Lauretta, the daughter of Gianni Schicchi. Zita, elated over the finding of the will and worried about what it might contain, doesn’t pay much attention to him, and her elusive answer is interpreted by Rinuccio as consent. He, then, sends little Gherardino to get Schicchi and Lauretta.
Each of the relatives hopes to have been given the best part of the inheritance. Zita breaks the seal on the parchment and everyone crowds around her. The reading of the will confirms their worst fears, and they all abandon themselves to fits of hysteria.
Having overcome that first moment of surprise, however, they begin to ask themselves if it isn’t possible to elude the will of the deceased, and Rinuccio suggests resorting to the cunning of Gianni Schicchi. The relatives react with hostility: they don’t look favourably upon that man from the country, and consider it unacceptable that Rinuccio, a Donati, wants to marry his daughter, a girl without a dowry. Rinuccio reproaches them for their narrow-mindedness: Florence also owes its splendor to the vitality and initiative of men like Schicchi. In the meantime, he arrives with Lauretta, and a squabble with Zita immediately starts up. She reproaches him for his inferior state and Schicchi denounces her because she is willing to sacrifice the happiness of Lauretta and Rinuccio for her stupid pride; the lovers fear they will never be able to realize their dream of love, while the relatives are irritated because in that moment there are more important questions to resolve.
Rinuccio hushes everyone, tells Zita to show the document to Schicchi and asks him to examine it in search of a possible solution. Schicchi is annoyed, and refuses to do anything. Lauretta begs her father to intervene: she wants to marry Rinuccio, and if she can’t, sees no other solution than to throw herself into the Arno. Faced with his daughter’s despair, Schicchi gives way. Reading the will, he has an idea. Having learnt from the relatives that the news of Buoso’s death has not yet been made public, he gives the order that the body be carried into another room, and the bed made. The relatives are perplexed, but follow his orders.
When Master Spinelloccio knocks at the door, having come to check Buoso’s condition, Schicchi orders that he be prevented from entering, and hides in the room. Mimicking Buoso’s voice, Schicchi reassures Spinelloccio and asks him to come back later. Schicchi, who has amazed the relatives with his imitation, outlines his plan: the notary will be summoned; he, Schicchi, will put on the dead man’s clothes; in the semi-darkness of the room, the notary will confuse his big nose with Buoso’s, and imitating his voice he himself will dictate the new will. Schicchi congratulates himself on his brilliant idea, so brilliant that it will bring him ever-lasting fame! Suddenly the spirits of the relatives are raised: they all begin again to ask themselves who will get the most important parts of the inheritance (the mule, the villa in Florence, the mills at Signa) and on the heels of their sudden enthusiasm for Schicchi, they declare that they want him to decide their allocation. However, while Schicchi is getting into Buoso’s clothes, the relatives approach him in turn, promising a reward in exchange for the allotment of the most coveted assets. Zita, Ciesca and Nella contemplate with satisfaction the result of the disguise, and hail Schicchi as the savior of the family.
Before going through with the hoax, however, Schicchi warns the relatives: the law, for those who falsify a will, calls for chopping off the right hand and exile. The notary, accompanied by witnesses, arrives, and the Schicchi’s plan is carried out. Schicchi grants the minor bequests as everyone expected. But, having arrived at the important possessions, he orders that they should go to his friend, Gianni Schicchi. The relatives make as if to rebel, but Schicchi waves his arm, hidden in the sleeve of his night-clothes, at them: the warning is obvious, and the relatives have no choice but to make the best of things. When the notary leaves, the anger of the Donati family explodes, but now the house belongs to Schicchi, and he throws them out. The relatives have no choice but to leave, pursued by Schicchi, not without pillaging everything – dishes, furniture – they chance upon.
Left alone, Rinuccio and Lauretta go to the window to gaze at Florence, bathed in sunlight. Coming back into the house, Schicchi is moved to see the two lovers tenderly embracing, and comes to the conclusion that Buoso’s estate, destined to make them happy, couldn’t have a better ending. Certainly, he will be sent to hell for his cunning, but with the permission of the great father Dante, it will be the audience itself, with its applause, that grants him an acquittal.