Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Grand Night of Opera

Last night I was delighted by "A Grand Night of Opera" in the de Jong Concert Hall of the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center at Brigham Young University.  The BYU school of music, accompanied by the BYU Philharmonic, presented two operas by Giacomo Puccini for the price of one: the tragic Suor Angelica and the comic Gianni Schicchi

Suor Angelica had a tough life.  She had a child out of wedlock, and as a punishment she was sent to a convent where she was forced to sign away her inheritance.  The other nuns in the convent didn't always treat her well.  After many years in the convent, she discovered that her young son had died. Her tender heart was rent with anguish, whereupon she concocted and drank a poisonous potion in order to join her son.  She realized too late that it was also mortal sin to take her own life.  There are many beautiful songs in the opera Suor Angelica, but in the final scene the music and the drama reach a poignant climax as she pleads for forgiveness and then expires.   

The BYU School of music's production of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi had the entire audience in stitches. (See here for a plot summary)  It was as funny as Suor Angelica was sad.  Puccini is better known for his operas Madame Butterfly, Tosca, La Bohème, and Turandot, but his trittico, or his three one act operas, Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi (the last of which features the famous aria "O Mio Babbino Caro"), are not to be missed.

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