Puccini: Il trittico

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Puccini
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Il trittico
PERFORMER: Tito Gobbi, Victoria de los Angeles Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro dell’Opera Rome/Vincenzo Bellezza/ Tullio Serafin/Gabriele Santini
CATALOGUE NO: CMS 7 64165-2 ADD Reissue
Puccini’s comic masterpiece Gianni Schicchi may still lay claim to a place in the popular repertory, but otherwise his ‘triptych’ of one-act operas is unfairly neglected by opera houses and has hitherto been disappointingly served on CD. (RCA’s reissue of Il tabarro earlier this year was gripping, but it was coupled with Pagliacci.) So it is good to see EMI re-release this set, recorded in the late Fifties, but admirably remastered, when Tito Gobbi and Victoria de los Angeles were at the height of their considerable powers.

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The impassioned and highly charged grand guignol of Il tabarro may be short on subtlety, but Vincenzo Bellezza plays down its inherent melodrama and despite the wonderfully indulgent and lyrical score, manages to keep a grip on the reality of the opera’s low-life setting, making the final scene all the more horrifying. Gobbi’s performance as the cuckolded Michele is exemplary: sinister and cruel as well as melancholic and misunderstood.

If Il tabarro is inclined to melodrama, then Suor Angelica, with its all-female cast and quasi-mystical convent setting, verges on cloying sentimentality. Here, though, Victoria de los Angeles’s portrayal of the eponymous nun is so utterly moving and serene that the piece is lifted from mawkishness. Her sweetness is all the more affecting when compared with Fedora Barbieri’s formidable and imperious Zia Principessa.

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Inevitably, perhaps, Gianni Schicchi is the highlight of the set, with Gobbi brilliantly compelling and wittily manipulative in the title role, and Los Angeles appealingly girlish and bright as Lauretta. Claire Wrathall