Opera Scotland

Suor Angelica Sister Angelica

Second part of Il Trittico

Music
Giacomo Puccini (born Lucca, 22 December 1858; died Brussels, 29 November 1924).

Text
Giovacchino Forzano.

Source
Original.

Premieres
First performance: New York (Metropolitan Opera), 14 December 1918.
First UK performance: London (Covent Garden), 18 June 1920.
First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (King’s Theatre), 24 April 1957.
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Background
As the second pert of the Triptych, Suor Angelica follows the grim drama of Il Tabarro and leads to the farce of Gianni Schicchi. For many years it suffered by comparison with those two companions. The criticism has largely been based on a perception that it was too sentimental in an almost sickly way. It has shown signs of gaining popularity in recent years, but is still performed with less frequency than the other two, in spite of the fact that they seem to gain in performance from having Angelica in between. The main plot concerning the meeting between Angelica and her tyrannical aunt is placed in the context of the daily life of the other nuns in the convent.

Main Characters
Suor Angelica (soprano)
Zia Principessa, her aunt (mezzo-soprano)
La Badessa – The Abbess (mezzo-soprano)
Suor Zelatrice – the almoner (soprano)
Mistress of Novices (mezzo-soprano)
Sister Genovieffa (soprano)

Plot Summary
Some years previously, Angelica, as the daughter of an aristocratic family, caused a scandal by becoming pregnant. After the birth of the child she was consigned to a nunnery where she has lived for seven years with no further family contact. The abbess tells Angelica that she has a visitor, and she is then left alone with her aunt, who has come to tell her that her sister is about to marry, and that Angelica’s signature is required on a legal document. When Angelica eventually asks about her child she is told bluntly that it died two years earlier. Left alone, Angelica resolves to kill herself, and brews a poisonous potion using herbs from the convent gardens. After drinking this she panics, realising that suicide is a mortal sin and that she will therefore be damned and not meet her child again. She prays devoutly for pardon, and as she dies has a vision of her son welcoming her to Heaven.

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