Il trittico, G. Puccini
ll trittico is Giacomo Puccini’s noteworthy escapade in short-form musical theatre. It is a collection of three one-act operas, each with a unique soundscape and pace. Together they showcase the composer’s talent and versatility. Il trittico, or The Triptych in English, premiered on 14 December 1918 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Its three parts are titled Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi. This season, Vienna State Opera is putting on a faithful recreation of Puccini’s famous triple bill.
In the first part, Il tabarro, the action takes place on the Seine River in Paris. The owner of a barge, Michele, suspects his wife, Giorgetta, of having an affair with one of his workers, Luigi. The clues add up, and Michele’s mind slowly wanders into a dark and vengeful direction. His cloak (or ‘tabarro’ in Italian), which once held his whole family, now harbours a horrific secret, which will be revealed at the act’s bombastic finale.
The second part, Suor Angelica, takes place in a convent in 17th-century Tuscany. The main character, Sister Angelica, is a nun who has been sent to the convent against her will. She has not seen her family in years and longs to be reunited with her son, who was taken from her. When she learns her beloved boy has passed away, Angelica succumbs to despair – a tragic heroine that few Puccini operas can do without.
The final part, Gianni Schicchi, is a comedy that takes place in Florence in the 13th century. The story revolves around the recently deceased wealthy man Buoso Donati and his greedy relatives who are fighting over his inheritance. They turn to the cunning Gianni Schicchi for help, but little do they know he will employ his razor-sharp mind to his own benefit.
Overall, Il trittico is a diverse and emotionally complex work that showcases Puccini's mastery of different musical styles and his ability to tell compelling stories through music. Each part of the opera is unique, but together they form a cohesive whole that explores themes of love, loss, greed, and redemption on the stage of Wiener Staatsoper this season.