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Subject: Re: Suor Angelica
From: Giovanni Christen <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 7 Mar 1996 18:28:04 +0000

text/plain (63 lines)

Pierre, excuse me if I get ironical. Do you think that Spoletta was so tired
after hunting Angelotti, torturing Cavaradossi etc. that forgot how
to make the execution? Because the libretto is fairly clear. Scarpia
asks for "un'esecuzione simulata". Spoletta agrees and repeats it.
Was he drunk? Was he an idiot? Memory troubles? Puccini's work are
fairly complicated after all!

>The miracle is in the same vein - nothing really to understand - **just**
>an outburst of emotions and popular piety. It doesn't really matter
>what's really happening, provided that we are effectively manipulated in
>accepting the message - God is all-powerful and merciful, He forgives
>everything, there is another, better world where all wrongs will be
>righted etc... - in a word, the tragedy of life is to be solved through
>the grace of saving and transcendent love and the mediation of the Virgin
>Mary, mother of God... i.e. suspension of disbelief in a big way!

While we are speaking of the trittico, do not forget a warm cloack. It is,
too, a warm comfortable ending. As it is the warm touristic places were
Schicchi will end. Puccini's endings are always that consoling! :-)

>I don't think that Giovanni is right in trying to provide a rationalistic
>interpretation of the course of "events", because, if he were right, the
>emotional climax which ends the opera and "makes" it to a large extent
>would then fall completely flat, the whole opera would collapse and all the
>beautiful music that I contains with it. What would be the point?

The "miracle" is a danger, a kind of "bouncing Angelica" after the terrific
scene of her realizing that she will not join her son in paradise ("Mario! Su
presto! andiamo!"). IMO Puccini is the master of ending scenes. Why?
Because he was cynical disbelieving and cruel. He did not put the emotional
peak of the climax on the death. He plays with his characters and looks
coldly while they realize what happened. Rodolfo realizing that Mimi' is
already dead. The same with Tosca. Angelica is alone on stage, then he
has to put the peak of the climax *before* her death. When she realizes
her mistake, that her death will be the end of her hopes. And then comes
the Madonna and arranges everything? I find that reading a bit unusual as
a Puccini finale. Maybe there is a 2nd level of reading? It looks possible
to me.

>In other words, I don't think that Puccini wrote SUOR ANGELICA in a
>subtle attempt to expose the Elmer Gantrys of this world - he was one of
>them! (But why not? The show is very enjoyable for as long as it lasts
>and the public can't complain : they had more than enough for their money!)

Elmer Gantry ? Sorry for my cultural limits. I do not understand.

>Giovanni says that he is going to see the same production two more times.
>For his personal enjoyment of those additional performances, I suggest to
>him to suspend his disbelief and actually start believing in miracles -
>at least for the three or four minutes needed to truly enjoy the
>conclusion of the opera. His skepticism should be reserved for real life
>situations - where it is a much needed attitude - and he should revert
>to it as soon as he can, but it has no place in this particular opera.

I believe in one miracle. The effect that a Puccini finale can achieve even on
thick skinned disbelievers like myself. Not exactly consoling or exhilarating.
But the good with opera dramas is that you can suffer and cry and then you
go out and "ritorni a veder le stelle" (Dante coming back to surface after his
trip in the hell). Is that wrong? Should I think all these deaths closing operas
are souls going to paradise, thus happy endings?

Giovanni Christen
[log in to unmask]

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