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Subject: Re: Greatest Met Premiere
From: Kurt Youngmann <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Kurt Youngmann <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 11 Jan 2017 14:35:16 -0600
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Puccini is, and always has been, my favorite composer. It started when I wasn't even a teenager yet with the Toscanini Boheme. Lyric Opera presented it in all of its first four seasons with casts I'd sell my soul to the devil to see today! Butterfly rarely fails to thrill and Tosca remains among my top tier of favorites. 

But my tastes have grown and expanded and Puccini's later works are what I listen to most often. Fanciulla has much greatness to it but it really needs a really strong cast to succeed.

As for Trittico, I agree (as I so often do, with Bob). It shows the composer at his most mature. I love Tabarro and Schicchi but for me Suor Angelica is the real masterpiece! Roughly the first half is expository, introducing the nuns and making us wonder why they are where they are. In the end, we only learn about Angelica herself and her sad, tragic family life. Once the old aunt shows up the opera builds to one of the greatest of all climaxes. I find the section following her aria that begins with "La grazia e disceso dal cielo" among the most rapturously gorgeous pieces of music I've ever heard!

The main problem of the piece is the final scene which can appear rather maudlin. Puccini recognized this and predicted that Angelica would be the first of the three to be dropped. San Francisco's most recent production solved the dilemma by staging the opera in an orphanage. For the denouement one of the children is seen peeking at Angelica through a window and, hallucinating, she believes him to be her dead son as the redemptive angel. It was the best ending I've seen.

Kurt Youngmann 

Sent from my iPad

> On Jan 11, 2017, at 1:28 PM, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> I'd opt for Il Trittico, though I am fond of Fanciulla.
> 
> Tabarro - Muzio, Crimi, Montesanto
> Suor Angelica - Farrar, Perini
> Gianni Schicchi - De Luca, Easton, Crimi
> 
> That's about as starry as it gets, and the music displays the enormous
> range and diversity that Puccini was able to summon for these three
> operas. The dramatic and musical contrasts are stunning, and, in my
> opinion, are, cumulatively, the greatest display of his genius. I am
> particularly fond of Schicchi; everything about it smacks of perfection.
> 
> But, I do agree, that regardless of which we choose, Puccini gets
> the Top Prize!
> 
> Bob
> 
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