Opera North's Vintage Puccini


The prospect of spending an evening watching two rather depressing operas, with predictable plots,  hung heavily over my head. For Il tabarro and Suour Angelica are two of the three totally contrasting one act operas that form part of Puccini’s Il trittico.

In choosing to pair together these two works  in one performance Opera North  made a very brave and bold choice – one that could have ended in a night of boring, miserable and depressing opera, at the end of which all the audience wanted to do was weep into their Horlicks or head for the nearest bar.

But as usual Opera North has come up trumps and although the topics are dark and  emotional the productions, especially Il Tabarro made for an highly charged dramatic evening of vintage Puccinni.

The first of Puccini’s Il trittico (The Triptych), Il tabarro, is a noir thriller set in working class Paris. The young Giorgetta takes a lover and drives her husband Michele to murderous despair. A love triangle is at the heart of this very human drama and at its climax, a cloak reveals a dark and bloody secret.

The setting of a container and the brilliant acting, movement coupled with some highly emotional singing made this an exciting production both visually and musically.

 Suor Angelica focuses on one of the most heart-rending human experiences. Sister Angelica has been confined to a convent following the scandal of an illegitimate son. After years of missing her child every day, she discovers that he died a long time ago. Angelica is plunged into suicidal despair yet the end of the opera holds out the promise of redemption.

The fluidity of this production was brilliant and as usual Opera North pulled out all stops making it seamless and visually pleasing. This opera’s music has an ethereal tone yet at times it becomes rather chilling and mysterious – although what some of the more staid and sedate opera goers thought of the modern twist given to the final scene I dread to think!

The two operas are part of Opera North’s Season at Leeds Grand Theatre and these two operas have performances on 8th, 14th,20th,26th October. Call Box Office on 0113 243 9999 for further performance details and bookings.

Liz Coggins

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