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World Premiere December 14 1918, Metropolitan Opera, New York
Il tabarro (The Coat)
Libretto by Giuseppe Adami based on Didier Gold's play La Houpelande (1910)
Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica)
Libretto by Giovacchino Forzano
Libretto by Giovacchino Forzano based on an episode from Dante Alighieri's La Divina Commedia (1321)
This production first seen January 13 2008
Sung in Italian with German & English surtitles
Introduction (on video, in German) will appear here and on YouTube shortly before the run opens
Il tabarro (The Coat) Michele and Giorgetta live on a boat on the Seine. The death of their only child has taken its toll on their marriage. The men have a drink when they have finished their work. Frugola arrives, looking for her husband. Tinca's determined to get drunk. Frugola and Giorgetta dream of a better life. Giorgetta reminisces about her childhood; she's found a kindred spirit in Luigi, who grew up close to where she used to live. Frugola and Talpa go home. Luigi promises to come and see Giorgetta again later. She's to strike a match when she's alone. Michele asks his wife why she no longer loves him. He reminds her of an evening when he lovingly wrapped her and their child in his coat. Giorgetta breaks off the conversation, saying that she's tired. She leaves. Michele suspects that she's been seeing someone, but has no idea who. He lights a cigarette and Luigi appears. Michele attacks him, forces him to admit that he is in love with Giorgetta, and strangles him. Giorgetta finds her lover's body.
Suor Angelica Sister Angelica gave birth to a child out of wedlock and so her aristocratic family forced her to take the veil. She's heard nothing of her child or family since she's been in the convent. All pray for a nun who recently died. Angelica thinks that it's the living who have wishes, not the dead. The Countess, Angelica’s aunt, arrives to sort out Angelica’s parents’ will – although they died twenty years ago. She accuses Angelica again of bringing shame on the family. Angelica says she's repentant and asks about her child. The Countess hesitates before telling her that the child died. Angelica collapses. She finds the strength to sign papers, giving up her share of the inheritance. She prepares a drink, one that will reunite her with her child. She knows that suicide is a sin. In despair, she begs Our Lady to give her a sign that she is forgiven.
Gianni Schicchi Buoso, a rich man, has died and his relations have gathered to find out what they've inherited. Betto, Buoso’s brother in law, tells his niece Nella that he heard Buoso had left everything to a monastery. The family, outraged, turn to Simone, who is knowledgeable about legal affairs. Simone says that if the will is with a notary then there's nothing to be done but if it's still in the house ... Rinuccio, Zita’s nephew, finds it. Before handing it over he makes Zita promise that he be allowed to marry Lauretta, Gianni Schicchi's daughter, if the contents are favourable, ... but everything has been left to the monks. Rinuccio has sent for Gianni Schicchi. The family refuse to accept him as their legal adviser, and Zita reneges on her promise to Rinuccio. Gianni Schicchi's offended but Lauretta manages to make him change his mind and help. The body is hidden once Schicchi has ascertained that nobody else knows that Buoso Donati has died. The doctor calls. Schicchi speaks in Buoso’s voice – asking the doctor to return that evening. The relations try and bribe Schicchi to give them the largest chunks of the inheritance. Schicchi dons Buoso’s clothes and lies on the death bed. He warns the family that there'll be serious repercussions if the deception is discovered. The notary arrives. The relations listen on tenterhooks. They're all left something but are frozen in shock when they hear that the lions share of the inheritance is to go to – Gianni Schicchi! Buoso’s relations explode with rage but are soon sent packing by the new new master of the house. Lauretta and Rinuccio embrace. Gianni Schicchi turns to the audience: he begs them not to think too badly of him – he only wanted to make the young couple happy.
Giacomo Puccini combined three very different one act operas for his triple bill at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, which opened in 1918: a bloody drama about jealousy, a lonely tragedy of a nun and an Italian comedy about a greedy extended family. The finiteness of life is inherent in all three works, in different ways. This was the seed of Claus Guth's concept, which turns into a study of how humans die and how death is coped with. Life and death coexist in Christian Schmidt's ship of life, sometimes even coming into contact in an invisible network between the two worlds.