ll trittico was Puccini's penultimate work. Conceived during World War One, it appeared only after eight years of silence from the maestro, and was followed only by the unfinished Turandot, after yet another eight-year-long hiatus. Of the three one-acts that make up the work, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi will be shown at the Erkel Theatre on September 16, 21 and 24.
Set at Easter time, Suor Angelica relates a tragedy unfolding at a convent, and the comic Gianni Schicchi was inspired by a mediaeval Florentine whose sly means of enriching himself were described by Dante himself in his Inferno. Two fantastic pieces with a magnificent cast, directed by Ferenc Anger.
In an Italian convent, at Easter, in May.
The sisters are saying a Hail Mary. Two lay sisters and Sister Angelica arrive late for the prayer.
After the evening prayer, the Monitress upbraids the two lay sisters for not showing remorse for being late, as Sister Angelica did. The Monitress also upbraids two other nuns: one for laughing at the prayer and thus making others laugh, and Sister Osmina for hiding a red rose in the sleeve of her habit. Sister Osmina denies the accusation and storms angrily out of her cell.
During the rest period, Sister Genovieffa merrily points out to everyone that this evening is the first of three evenings when after prayers the sun hits the fountain at a certain angle that causes the water in the spring to turn golden. The nuns are saddened to think of their recently deceased compatriot, Bianca Rosa. Genovieffa suggests that they take some of the golden water to Bianca Rosa's grave, since she is surely longing for it. The Monitress immediately remarks that one must not live in the hope of desires. Sister Genovieffa innocently admits that she has a desire: before becoming a nun, she was a shepherdess, and for five years she hasn't seen a lamb – she'd like to see one and pet it. The gluttonous Sister Dolcina is also about to confess her own desire, but the sisters interrupt her: they are already well aware that she is always craving tasty things to eat! Sister Genovieffa turns to Sister Angelica to ask her whether she has a desire. Sister Angelica answers that she does not, but the others whisper behind her back: "Of course she has a desire! She hasn't had any news from her family for seven years." In hushed voices, they inform the novices that Angelica comes from a noble and wealthy family, but was placed in the convent by her relatives in order to punish her. The gossiping of the nuns is cut short when the Nursing Sister rushes in breathlessly: another nun has been stung by wasps, and they need help from Angelica, who has a solid understanding of plants and herbs. Angelica quickly gathers a few herbs and gives her instructions for making a brew out of them.
The return of the tourières.
The two alms sisters arrive back at the convent, bringing news that a fine coach is standing in front of the gate – somebody has received a visitor. Sister Angelica is disturbed to hear the news. The Abbess announces that a visitor has come for Sister Angelica: her aunt, the Princess.
The Princess enters the parlatory. She was the one who raised Angelica after the girl's parents died 20 years earlier. She has come because Angelica's younger sister is to be married, and the family's estate has to be divided. For this, Angelica's consent is required. In her excitement, the joyful Angelica asks who her sister is marrying. "One who out of love pardons the disgrace you have brought on our family's unblemished crest." Seven years earlier, Angelica bore a son out of wedlock who was taken from her, while she was placed in the convent. Despairing, Angelica asks about her son. The Princess reveals that the child died from an illness two years earlier. Angelica collapses, but then signs the paper dividing the estate. The princess departs.
Angelica is inconsolable thinking about her little boy, who had to live and die without his mother and who is now looking down from heaven as an angel. Angelica feels that heaven has absolved her, and is left with only one wish: to be together with her child again in death. She prepares a poison.
No sooner has Angelica taken the poison than she is filled with remorse: by longing to be with her son she has committed a mortal sin, for which she must repent. She begs the Holy Virgin for mercy. The miracle takes place: accompanied by a chorus of angels, the Virgin Mother appears to the dying woman to give her her son back.
Florence, 1 September 1299
The body of the recently deceased wealthy nobleman Buoso Donati lies on the deathbed surrounded by relatives there to mourn him, or more properly speaking, to angle for his inheritance. They have good reason to worry, and not just because they are a big family: there are rumours going around the area that Buoso has left his entire estate to a monastery. They turn over the entire house in search of his will. The document is found at last by the young Rinuccio, who makes his Aunt Zita promise him that if there is enough money for him, he can marry his love, Lauretta. As it turns out, the gossip is true: Buoso Donati has left all of his money to the monks. Rinuccio counsels the despairing relations to seek the help of Lauretta's father, Gianni Schicchi, the low-born "businessman" who has nevertheless prospered from his own wits. Schicchi arrives with his daughter. Meeting, however, with arrogance, disdain and antipathy from the noble family, he is about to depart when his daughter speaks directly to his heart: she will die if she can't marry Rinuccio! Schicchi agrees to the game. The plan is ready: they have to get rid of the body, and he himself will play the dying Donati in front of the notary. Suddenly the doctor knocks on the door: he is there to examine the extremely ill Donati. In a different voice, Schicchi assures the doctor that he is better now. Schicchi sends the relatives to summon the notary, and then wearing Donati's sleeping cap on his head proceeds to dictate his final will and testament. The relatives each try to bribe Schicchi to favour them over the other relatives, and Schicchi nods at each of them, reminding them separately that they must forever remain silent about the ruse, or they'll be taken from Florence in chains for fraud. The notary arrives, and Schicchi dictates his will, but to everyone's mute astonishment, leaves most of the inheritance, as well as Donati's house in Florence, to himself, Gianni Schicchi! The family rages, but they cannot say a word lest the deception be discovered. When the notary departs, they fall on Schicchi and steal what they can, but Schicchi ejects them from his newly acquired house and looks with satisfaction at the loving couple, Rinuccio and Lauretta – the true winners of the trick.