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Giacomo Puccini

The Triptych

The Cloak - Sister Angelica - Gianni Schicci


Il Trittico

Il trittico (The Triptych) is the title of a collection of three one-act operas, Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi, by Giacomo Puccini. The work received its world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera on 14 December 1918.

Il tabarro
Place: A barge on the Seine in Paris.
Time: 1910.
The opera is very dark and brooding, full of the violence and grit associated with verismo opera.

Suor Angelica
Place: A convent near Siena.
Time: The latter part of the 17th century.
This second opera, Puccini's personal favorite, is an uplifting tale of religious redemption.

Gianni Schicchi
Place: Florence.
Time: 1299.
The third opera is the most popular, a farce full of greed and conniving.

Giacomo Puccini

Sister Angelica

Suor Angelica
Barbara Frittoli, Mariana Lipovšek; Luca Ronconi,
Riccardo Chailly

Puccini - Suor Angelica
Antonio Pappano

Puccini’s early training was in church music; but by the time he began to compose Suor Angelica, which takes place in a convent, he was fifty-eight and had had a long career of writing only for the lyric stage. It was, perhaps, natural for him, then, to try out his score on a preliminary audience which ought to have some special insight into the problems of the opera. His sister Ingina lived in a convent, and there he played his score for the assembled sisters. When his audience dissolved into tears and agreed that the erring heroine deserved forgiveness, he was satisfied.

Lay audiences and professional music critics were less easily pleased. When the opera had its world premiere in New York, at the Metropolitan Opera House, along with Il tabarro and Gianni Schicci, it was found rather dull—the music all too much alike, male voices entirely lacking. As in Il tabarro, the drama really begins only halfway through, the first part of the little work being all atmosphere-building. A reading of the score or a phonograph hearing actually becomes more dramatically absorbing if one begins with the fourth of the six parts into which the opera is divided, each with its subtitle.



(Sister Angelica)

Opera in one act by Giacomo Puccini with libretto in Italian by Giovacchino Foizano


Sister Angelica

The Princess, her aunt

The Abbess
The Monitress
The Mistress of the novices 
Sister Genovieffa
Sister Osmina  
Sister Dolcina
The nursing sister 
The alms sisters 
A novice 
The lay sisters
Offstage chorus of women, children, and men

Time: 17th century
Place: Italy

First performance at New York, December 14, 1918



Sister Angelica:
Soprano. From a noble family in Florence, Angelica had an illegitimate child. To hide from the shame this brought on the family, she entered a convent, but she longs to know what has happened to the child she left behind. After seven years she has a visitor—the Principessa La Zia (her aunt, the Princess). Angelica asks for news of her son, and her aunt bluntly tells her that the child died two years ago. After the Princess has left, Angelica takes poison—she wants to join her son in heaven—but she then realizes that suicide is a mortal sin. She prays to the Virgin Mary for forgiveness, and has a vision of the Madonna bringing her dead son towards her. He will lead her into heaven. Aria: Senza mamma (‘Without your mother’). Created (1918) by Geraldine Farrar.

Principessa La Zia:

Contralto. Princess and aunt of Angelica. She visits her in the convent and cruelly tells Angelica of the death of her illegitimate child. Created (1918) by Flora Perini.


The Penance begins with two postulants hurrying through the cloisters of a little convent, for they are late to prayers. Sister Angelica, also late, does her own penance by saying a prayer before entering the church. Then the Monitor of the order of nuns emerges and delivers penances to several young nuns and postulates for minor infractions of the rules.

The Recreation is that brief period after prayers when the sisters gather in the garden to admire the flowers. They also compare wishes. Sister Angelica, it turns out, seems to have none. She is a somewhat mysterious figure to the others. All they know of her is that she has been in the convent for seven years and it is rumored that she is a princess who has been renounced by her family for some crime or other.

The Return from the Quest brings in two members of the order who carry a load of supplies on a small donkey. They also report that a handsome carriage is outside the convent. A bell announcing a visitor is rung, and the Abbess summons Sister Angelica. Her aunt, the Princess, is there to visit her.

The Princess, who gives her name to the next section, is an elderly lady of great dignity and severity, who carries a stick. Greatly agitated, Sister Angelica kisses her hand and seems to implore forgiveness. But the Princess has come for only one thing. It seems that Angelica’s sister is about to be married, and a signature on a document is necessary so that their dead parents’ fortune may be divided. As the parents had died twenty years earlier and as she has now no use for money, Angelica readily consents and asks about something that interests her far more: what has happened to her little illegitimate son, whose birth is the reason that she was hidden away in a convent. When the Princess tells Angelica that the child died two years before, she breaks down completely. For a moment the Princess is almost moved by these tears to say something kindly. But she regains her control, calls for pen and ink, obtains the necessary signature, and hobbles off in aristocratic silence.

The Grace. Alone in the garden, with night descending, Angelica decides to use hei knowledge of herbs, gained at the convent, to take her own life. She sings a tender farewell to her sister nuns, prepares a poisonous potion, and swiftly drinks it. Only then does she realize that suicide is a terrible sin, and that she may never see her son in heaven after all. Frantically she prays to Mary for forgiveness.

The Miracle occurs in answer to her prayers. The little church becomes illumined with an unearthly light, and the Madonna herself appears to Sister Angdica, leading a little blond boy by the hand. Angdica dies in peace, as an invisible choir of angels promises her salvation.


The opera opens with scenes showing typical aspects of life in the convent – all the sisters sing hymns, the Monitor scolds two lay-sisters, everyone gathers for recreation in the courtyard. The sisters rejoice because, as the mistress of novices explains, this is the first of three evenings that occur each year when the setting sun strikes the fountain so as to turn its water golden. This event causes the sisters to remember Bianca Rosa, a sister who has died. Sister Genevieve suggests they pour some of the "golden" water onto her tomb.

The nuns discuss their desires. While the Monitor believes that any desire at all is wrong, Sister Genevieve confesses that she wishes to see lambs again because she used to be a shepherdess when she was a girl, and Sister Dolcina wishes for something good to eat. Sister Angelica claims to have no desires, but as soon as she says so, the nuns begin gossiping – Sister Angelica has lied, because her true desire is to hear from her wealthy, noble family, whom she has not heard from in seven years. Rumors are that she was sent to the convent in punishment.

The conversation is interrupted by the Infirmary Sister, who begs Sister Angelica to make an herbal remedy, her specialty. Two tourières arrive, bringing supplies to the convent, as well as news that a grand coach is waiting outside. Sister Angelica becomes nervous and upset, thinking rightly that someone in her family has come to visit her. The Abbess chastises Sister Angelica for her inappropriate excitement and announces the visitor, the Princess, Sister Angelica's aunt.

The Princess explains that Angelica's sister is to be married and that Angelica must sign a document renouncing her claim to her inheritance. Angelica replies that she has repented for her sin, but she cannot offer up everything in sacrifice to the Virgin – she cannot forget the memory of her illegitimate son, who was taken from her seven years ago. The Princess at first refuses to speak, but finally informs Sister Angelica that her son died of fever two years ago. Sister Angelica, devastated, signs the document and collapses in tears. The Princess leaves.

Sister Angelica is seized by a heavenly vision – she believes she hears her son calling for her to meet him in paradise. She makes a poison and drinks it, but realizes that in committing suicide, she has committed a mortal sin and has damned herself to eternal separation from her son. She begs the Virgin Mary for mercy and, as she dies, she sees a miracle: the Virgin Mary appears, along with Sister Angelica's son, who runs to embrace her.


Puccini "Suor Angelica"

Suor Angelica: Renata Tebaldi
La Zia Principessa: Giulietta Simionato
La Badessa: Lucia Danieli
La Maestra delle novizie: Anna Di Stasio
La Zelatrice: Miti Truccato Pace
Suor Genovieffa: Dora Carral
Suor Osmina; Yeda Valtriani
Suor Dolcina: Giuliana Tavolaccini
La Sorella Infermiera: Anna Di Stasio

Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Dirigent: Lamberto Gardelli

Suor Angelica - G. Puccini 
SUOR ANGELICA: Gabrielle Christinne Agura
ZIA PRINCIPESSA: Luisa Francesconi
PRIMA COVERZIE: Pámela Cruz Soto
NOVIZIE: Giulia Moura
SUOR OSMINA: Bruno Costa
SUOR: Bianca Maretti
Pianista: Alí Saboy Tavernese

IX Festival Fábrica de Óperas IA - UNESP 
São Paulo, Brasil
Mto. Abel Rocha – Direção musical e artística
Luisa Francesconi – Assistente geral

Su Ohishi – Preparação corporal
Taísa Luciano – Assistente de preparação corporal
Caio Bichaff – Figurino
Cenografia e cenotecnia – Juliana Naufel, Luisa Almeida e Tainah Bernardo (Agradecimentos à João Vitor Britto e Luiz Carlos Zanerato)
Paulo Fattori Plana - Técnico do teatro
Marilia Campos - Operadora de luz 
Augusto Girotto – Produção
Thais Akemi Braga 

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