Puccini Il Trittico
The Royal Opera opened its 2011-12 season with this production of all three segments of Puccini’s Triptych – last performed by the company in its entirety nearly 50 years ago. It was a triumph, both in terms of Richard Jones’s stagings, and in the musical values overseen by Antonio Pappano – a success repeated here on DVD and Blu-ray, with the visual and sonic honours ultimately taken by the latter.
Gianni Schicchi, the most popular opera of the three since their triple premieres at the Met in 1918, was previously staged in a double bill with Ravel’s L’heure espagnole (2009), and a significant comic achievement at that time. It again comes over sharply with this exceptional cast, led by Lucio Gallo’s plebeian criminal impersonator – an effortless star-turn. Gallo, in fact, makes two major appearances in the evening: firstly as the jealous barge-owner Michele who murders his wife’s lover – Aleksandra Antonenko’s excitingly sung Luigi – in the thriller, Il tabarro (The Cloak); he then also features in a worthwhile documentary extra. In The Cloak, Eva-Maria Westbroek presents a desperate Giorgetta within Ultz’s seedy, Seine-side set.
In between comes the moving story of the nun, Sister Angelica, who commits suicide on learning of the death of her son and is then granted a miracle of divine grace. I cried twice watching it, partly due to the intensity of Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho’s Angelica, strongly supported by Anna Larsson’s hostile Princess; but here and throughout one has to pay tribute to the many participants in small roles – all contributing to three wonderfully directed and expertly acted productions. Add in Pappano’s impeccable conducting and his valuable introductions to the pieces, and you have a nigh-on ideal Trittico.