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"Il Trittico" at New York City Opera

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I saw a wonderful production of Puccini's Triptych several decades ago at NYCO, with Beverly Sills, Placido Domingo, and Norman Treigle. The new production, which I saw last night, didn't erase those memories, but it's well worth seeing and hearing.

The first of the one-act operas, Il Tabarro, is a melodrama of sex and violence, and came off the best, IMO. Mark Delavan is a worthy successor to the great bass baritones of NYCO's past -- Treigle and Samuel Ramey. His portrayal of Michele, the lovelorn husband, was memorable.

Suor Angelica has always been the most problematic of the trio, and the current production, by shifting the setting from a cloister to a children's hospital, compounds the difficulties. The plot and dialogue no longer make sense. But the change does provide a poignant ending. After Sister Angelica commits suicide so as to rejoin her little son in heaven, instead of a vision of the Virgin Mary and the boy indicating forgiveness, we see a boy peering in at Angelica from the hallway. Thus, the ending is unsettling and ambiguous. Maria Kanyova was very affecting in the title role, and Ursula Ferri suitably imperious as her unsympathetic aunt. Ferri was also an earthy Frugola in Il Tabarro.

Finally, Gianni Schicchi, Puccini's only comedy, brought the house down, largely due to the smart-alecky supertitles. Schicchi wants his funeral done "on the cheap." He won't leave much to charity because people will say it was "laundered money." All the cast, except for Schicchi and his daughter Lauretta, was in black and white modern dress. The walls were covered with b&w op-art wallpaper. When Rinuccio sang of Florence being like a flowering tree, the back wall was pulled away to show a panoramic photographic view of the city. It should have been thrilling and, indeed, some audience members applauded. But the view seemed out-of-focus to me. Lauretta's "O Mio Babbino Caro," was marred by constant laughter prompted by the inane supertitles and bits of stage business. The latter caused the audience to burst into applause before the aria was over. The soprano and tenor were okay, but Mark Delavan triumphed as Schicchi.

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Thank you for the review. We West Coasters are grateful for these reports. "Laundered money" doesn't convey the sense of that phrase to me at all. Black-and-white costuming --what an original idea! :)

I was also wondering about Beverly Sills in this. Doesn't really seem like her cup of tea. Were you there for her and Treigle in Giulio Cesare, BTW?

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Yes, I saw Sills and Treigle in Giulio Cesare, and still remember the notes of Sills' "Piangero la sorte mia" (I shall weep for my fate) floating out from the stage of The New York State Theater without electronic enhancement. The acoustics didn't seem to bother anyone at the time, least all the critics from across the country who were in New York to cover the Met's opening fiasco and stayed to "discover" this great new star.

Another unforgettable performance from that era was Treigle in Boito's Mefistofele, with Domingo as Faust.

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