Monday, January 10, 2005

Il Tabarro

Request: [Berkeley opera] are doing “Gianni Schichi", "Suor A", and "Il Tabarro". Tell me about "Il Tabarro".

They go in the opposite order. Gianni Schichi is a comedy, Puccini’s only comedy, I think. The three operas together are called Trittico, which premiered at the Metropolitan opera just after the end of WWI. Even the presence of Geraldine Farrar in the title role could not save Suor Angelica which has pretty much faded from sight. It’s hard to deal with the way women used to be treated. The three operas are rarely performed as a group any more. Gianni Schichi is the most popular.

Il Tabarro is true verismo, a style of opera that grew up in reaction to Verdi who wrote almost exclusively about bad behavior in the upper classes. Verismo is about bad behavior in the lower classes and can verge on the completely sordid. So naturally, we adore it. It’s like stuff you would hear about on Jerry Springer.

Tosca is considered verismo but is about the upper classes. Tosca is a celebrity, the most famous singer of her era, and her friends and cohorts are prominent political figures. This kind of thing would probably make it on to the front page.

The plot of Il Tabarro is very similar to the plot of Pagliacci: older man has married young woman who wants to have fun with someone more her own age. Older man goes into a rage and kills someone.

Verismo makes great movies:

Cavalleria Rusticana

All are opera movies starring Placido Domingo. All three are well conducted, beautifully sung and very sexy. Placido cannot be beat for sex appeal in opera.

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