A Guide to Il trittico

7 June 2024

Welsh National Opera will soon be performing our brand-new production of Puccini’s Il trittico: a dazzling trio of one-act operas that the composer intended to all be performed in one evening. Ahead of this rare jewel of a performance, let’s have a look at a brief overview of each of the operas and some moments to look out for.

Il tabarro 

The story of Il tabarro (The Cloak) tells of a deadly love triangle on the banks of the river Seine: Michele, an ageing Parisian barge captain, discovers that his young wife, Giorgetta, is having an affair with one of his workers, Luigi. When the two young lovers decide to escape the miseries of the docks, their plan is brutally halted by Michele’s murderous desire to rid himself of his sexual rival, later revealing to Giorgetta Luigi’s dead body from under his cloak.

Did you know? For the original production of Il tabarro, Puccini insisted on the opening curtain being raised in silence – an eerie beginning to a foreboding opera.

Listen out for: Luigi’s Eccola la passata! (Here comes our lovely hostess!), the start of a quartet between Luigi, Giorgetta, Talpa and Tinca while Michele is away. Gathering around to drink at the end of the evening, Luigi calls for music and a strolling organ-grinder plays an off-key waltz in this rare moment of reprieve.

Suor Angelica

Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica) explores the heartbreaking tale of a young mother-turned-nun, who has been living in a convent for some seven years, sent there by her family to hide their shame after she gave birth to a child outside of wedlock. Her aunt, the Princess, visits her to inform her of her sister’s upcoming marriage, and demands that Angelica sign over her share of the family fortune. When Angelica asks of her son, the Princess tells her coldly that he died from illness some two years previously: devastated and traumatised, Angelica takes poison so she can be with her son in heaven. Just before she dies, she sees a vision of the Virgin Mary bringing her child to her.

Did you know? Suor Angelica was Puccini’s only work written for an all-female cast and chorus.

Listen out for: Sister Angelica’s aria Senza mamma (Without a mother), her heartbroken lament that begs her son to speak to her and grief that he never knew how much she loved him.

Gianni Schicchi

Gianni Schicchi begins with the death of Buoso Donati and it’s soon after that his greedy family realise that he has bequeathed the entire contents of his will to a monastery and has left them nothing. They enlist the help of the renowned trickster, Gianni Schicchi, to help them make a new will that will give its contents over to them. Meanwhile, Gianni Schicchi’s daughter, Lauretta, is in love with Buoso Donati’s nephew, Rinuccio, who wants nothing to do with the fraudulent activity. When the notary arrives, Gianni Schicchi impersonates Buoso from his bed and bequeaths his house and valuable properties to himself, double-crossing the family and leaving them aghast.

Did you know? Gianni Schicchi was a real-life fraudster, a medieval knight alive in Florence during the 13th century who inspired Dante Alighieri to include his crime in his famous Divine Comedy.

Listen out for: O mio babbino caro (Oh my dear papa), Lauretta’s breathtaking, world-famous aria that she sings to plead with her father to buy her a wedding ring so she can marry her beloved Rinuccio.

Have these three extraordinary operatic offerings taken your fancy this Summer? Come and experience the tragedy, heartbreak and deceptions of Il trittico at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre and on tour from 15 June 2024: after all, the best things come in threes.