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The Sunday Opera: An "All-Star" Performance of "Il Trittico" by Giacomo Puccini

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We’re taking an all-star look at Giacomo Puccini’s “Il Trittico” on this week’s Sunday Opera (4/17 3:00 p.m.) with three different productions, one for each of the three works that make up the evening.

“Il Trittico” had its world premier in December of 1918 at the Metropolitan Opera, and it has been a part (in whole or one of its segments) in opera houses around the world ever since.

The first work is “Il Tabarro” (“The Cloak”) which looks at the problematic marriage of an early 20th century river barge captain named Michele and his much younger wife, Giorgetta who seeks excitement in the arms of one of Michele’s stevedores, Luigi, resulting in tragedy. This cast for this recording features Sherril Milnes as Michele, Leontyne Price as Giorgetta, and Placido Domingo as Luigi.

“Suor Angelica” looks at a convent of nuns in Italy at the end of the 17th century. The sisters go about their daily duties, and the focus eventually turns to Angelica who is obviously tormented by something. She awaits news from her wealthy family which finally arrives in the form of her aunt, the Principessa, who wants Angelica to sign over all of her holdings to her younger sister who is getting married. Angelica musters the courage to ask about her son, the reason she was sent to the convent, and the Principessa coldly informs her that he died two years previously. Angelica is distraught and uses her knowledge of herbs to end her life. However, realizing that suicide is a damnable sin, she calls out to the Virgin, and a miracle occurs. Our main cast members in this recording are Renata Tebaldi as Angelica and Giulietta Simionato as the Principessa.

The third act is the comedy, “Gianni Schicchi,” which takes place in Florence at the end of the 13th century. Schicchi is brought in to help the Donati family circumvent their wealthy brother Buoso’s will so that his monies and property will be left to them and not to the monastery as he has chosen. Schicchi mostly does what the family wants in the hopes that his daughter Lauretta will be allowed to marry one of Buoso’s nephews, Rinuccio. However, Schicchi also takes the opportunity to make sure that he gets the best of Buoso’s properties (and a mule) in the end. Leo Nucci is a wonderful Schicchi in this recording, and our young lovers are sung by Mirella Freni and Roberto Alagna.

After the operas, stay with Michael Kownacky for more music of Puccini including a fantasy on themes from his opera “Turandot” as well as a few of his very early works, his Preludio Sinfonico and Capriccioso Sinfonico.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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