[Met Performance] CID:351994
New Production
Il Trittico {60}
Il Tabarro {66}
Suor Angelica {60}
Gianni Schicchi {124}
Metropolitan Opera House: 04/20/2007., Sirius Broadcast live

(Debuts: Jack O'Brien, Douglas W. Schmidt, Jess Goldstein, Jules Fisher, Peggy Eisenhower, Anne-Carolyn Bird, Leah Wool, Olga Mykytenko, Donato Di Stefano
Broadcast/Streamed
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
April 20, 2007 Broadcast/Streamed

New Production


IL TRITTICO{60}

IL TABARRO {66}
Puccini-Adami

Giorgetta...............Maria Guleghina
Luigi...................Salvatore Licitra
Michele.................Frederick Burchinal
Frugola.................Stephanie Blythe
Talpa...................Paul Plishka
Tinca...................David Cangelosi
Song Seller.............John Nuzzo
Lover...................Tony Stevenson
Lover...................Anne-Carolyn Bird [Debut]

Conductor...............James Levine

Il Tabarro received eight performances this season


SUOR ANGELICA {60}
Puccini-Forzano

Angelica................Barbara Frittoli
Princess................Stephanie Blythe
Genovieffa..............Heidi Grant Murphy
Osmina..................Sara Wiedt
Dolcina.................Jennifer Check
Monitor.................Wendy White
Abbess..................Patricia Risley
Head Mistress...........Barbara Dever
Nurse...................Maria Zifchak
Lay Sister..............Lisette Oropesa
Lay Sister..............Edyta Kulczak
Novice..................Anne-Carolyn Bird
Novice..................Leah Wool [Debut]
Alms Collector..........Jennifer Black
Alms Collector..........Jane Gilbert

Conductor...............James Levine

Suor Angelica received eight performances this season


GIANNI SCHICCHI {124}
Puccini-Forzano

Gianni Schicchi.........Alessandro Corbelli
Lauretta................Olga Mykytenko [Debut]
Rinuccio................Massimo Giordano
Nella...................Jennifer Check
Ciesca..................Patricia Risley
Zita....................Stephanie Blythe
Gherardo................Bernard Fitch
Betto...................Patrick Carfizzi
Marco...................Jeff Mattsey
Simone..................Donato Di Stefano [Debut]
Gherardino..............Jacob Wade
Spinelloccio............Paul Plishka
Amantio.................Dale Travis
Pinellino...............Peter Volpe
Guccio..................Keith Miller

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............Jack O'Brien [Debut]
Set Designer............Douglas W. Schmidt [Debut]
Costume Designer........Jess Goldstein [Debut]
Lighting Designer.......Jules Fisher [Debut]
Lighting Designer.......Peggy Eisenhauer [Debut]

Gianni Schicchi received eight performances this season

Production gift of Karen and Kevin Kennedy

Additional funding from the Gramma Fisher Foundation, Marshalltown, Iowa, The Annenberg Foundation, Hermione Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. William R. Miller, M. Beverly and Robert G. Bartner

Broadcast live on Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio
Streamed live at metopera.org


Production photos of Il Trittico by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.


Review of David J. Baker in the July 2007 issue of OPERA NEWS

The Met's new buzz-worthy "Il Trittico" staging, directed by Jack O'Brien, boasts gorgeous sets by Douglas W. Schmidt.

Few spectators will come away from the new Metropolitan Opera production of Puccini's "Il Trittico" (seen April 20) discussing any controversy or new insight found in Jack O'Brien's capable directing. The buzz is surely all about the gorgeous sets designed by another Broadway veteran, Douglas W. Schmidt. That decor-driven emphasis takes hold before a note of music is heard. The curtain rises in silence - followed by gasps and applause - on the "II Tabarro" set, a fascinating jigsaw of steel, water and concrete against a sky bathed in blood-red sunset. Three more well-applauded sets follow (two of them for "Gianni Schicchi"), stage decors that, far from just framing the action, seem to change and breathe, as the lighting effects by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer play endless tricks with the rich architecture.

Puccini's intensely site-specific trilogy, in fact, invites a pictorial approach. He dramatizes space in these operas: the barge in "Il Tabarro," like the convent of "Suor Angelica," oppresses the heroine. Fittingly, in Schmidt's first set, Notre Dame is barely visible on the distant horizon, situating us in the drab industrial outskirts at the wrong end of the city. The unhappy Suor Angelica calls her convent a place of clemency and pity, but her aunt corrects her penitence- and the first half of the work emphasizes a discipline contrived to strip the individual even of secret desires.

As for the comic "Gianni Schicchi," the setting is itself a stake in the drama: Schicchi steals this very house from the rightful heirs as well as the pretenders, the entire Donati clan. And the city of Florence is treated as a paradise to which the "bumpkin" Schicchi aspires, a place from which criminals can be exiled ("Addio, Firenze"), a place that is symbolically handed over to the lovers, like a lavish wedding gift from Papa Schicchi, in the final tableau. The settings of each of these works become virtual characters.

O'Brien's dramatic approach is objective and unobtrusive. Updating the operas to the period between 1927 and 1959 changes nothing but skirt lengths, except in "Gianni Schicchi," where the '50s outfits add considerably to the fun. With no axe to grind, the director efficiently manipulates props - such as the baby clothing glimpsed early in "Il Tabarro" - and people, though there are lapses.

If "Il Tabarro" ended badly, with Michele struggling to fit the eponymous cape over the head of the murdered, much taller Luigi while some spectators laughed, it was obviously the result of the last-minute replacement of Juan Pons by the under-rehearsed (and shorter) Frederick Burchinal. It would have been helpful, also, if Luigi - the somewhat burly Salvatore Licitra - had been set off better from his fellow stevedores, who are meant to be, and to look, twice his age.

But the major challenge in any "Trittico" production is undoubtedly that saccharine final tableau in Puccini's convent soap. One solution would be a neo-Bayreuth abstraction that finesses the details. O'Brien chooses to play it straight, retaining the child and the Madonna, along with a cross and a piercing gleam of light. Yet despite all this, and the lurching dance steps for the chorus, the scene worked.

The exquisite Barbara Frittoli lacks the histrionic force of a Stratas or Scotto, two of her predecessors in the role here. Yet her sincerity and simplicity - and a vocal performance of incandescent beauty - had a tremendous impact. Her mezza voce effects in early scenes caught the character's longing and remorse, in contrast to her emotional explosion in the confrontation with her aunt. In some roles, Frittoli can seem reticent, even fragile, but here the voice had a forceful ring, without strain, in the high stretches of the finale.

Under James Levine's coloristic, unhurried conducting, the evening offered several exemplary vocal performances. Aside from Frittoli's superb Angelica, there were Licitra as a thrillingly resonant Luigi and young Massimo Giordano, a rising star in his second Met season, as the lithe, lyrical Rinuccio in "Gianni Schicchi."

And three splendid performances were delivered by Stephanie Blythe. The mezzo's warm-hearted Frugola in "Il Tabarro" and her comically overbearing aunt Zita in "Gianni Schicchi" benefited from her rich, rounded timbre and ebullient personality. The stern authority of Via Principessa in "Suor Angelica" came less naturally to her, though here, too, she etched the lines memorably.

Alessandro Corbelli was a droll Schicchi, though on a modest scale in terms of vocal and visual presence. In her house debut, Olga Mykytenko made a real gem of Lauretta's air. Maria Guleghina, in what Puccini called his "apache drama," invested Georgetta's tangled emotions with appropriate intensity, shading her large sound finely in the quieter moments. Guleghina missed only the Mediterranean-flavored "morbidezza" and the clear diction that this composer always wants.



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