Synopsis: „Il trittico“

Il tabarro (The Cloak)

Paris, beginning of the 20th century. A barge on the Seine. Hard work with little reward for the day-labourers and stevedores, even the padrone. The people find their humble joy in the small things: a song, a glass of wine, something they may have found, perhaps even a little togetherness. Michele, the owner of the barge, and his young wife Giorgietta once believed that happiness was within their grasp – love, marriage, a child. The child has, however, passed away, and his death has alienated them from one another. Two of Michele’s stevedores, known as ‘Mole’ and ‘Tench’, are experiencing different degrees of luck in their lives. Mole’s wife, called ‘The Rummager’, collects odds and ends, and dreams of spending her twilight years with her husband and cat in a small cottage. Tench drowns his sorrows in alcohol while his wife plays away. A third stevedore, Luigi, blames the exploitative conditions for the misery of the working class. Giorgetta seeks a way out of her haunting isolation and believes she can find this in Luigi, who hails from the same Parisian quarter as she does. She starts an affair with him, an affair in which every tender touch is overshadowed by the fear of being discovered. Both suspect that a future together can only be a dream. Deceiving her husband awakens within Giorgetta an old feeling of solidarity with him. But it is all too late for reconciliation. Michele’s suspicions are confirmed, and the affair reaches a fatal end. Underneath Michele’s cloak, once a sign of safety for Giorgetta, a crime is concealed.

 

Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica)

An Italian convent, end of the 17th century. Strict rules denote life in the convent. The women pray and work, each with their own duty: the lay sisters perform simple tasks, the mistress instructs the novices, the monitress oversees the rules, the nursing sister looks after the sick, and the alms sisters procure donations from the outside world. Sister Angelica, responsible for the convent’s medicinal herbs, arrived seven years ago. The reason for her arrival is unknown to her fellow sisters, although it is obvious to them all that she carries a sad secret within. It is her child of whom she thinks constantly. Immediately after birth, the unmarried young mother, whose parents had died early, had her child taken away from her and was banished to the convent as punishment for bringing shame on the family. Now, though, she receives her first visitor: her aunt, the Princess, demands that Angelica renounce her share of the family inheritance so that her younger sister may wed. The strict Princess mentions no word of the child at first, only doing so after Angelica threatens to curse her. In empty words, her aunt informs her that the boy passed away two years previously from a serious illness. In her despair, Angelica imagines being called by her son and wishes to be reunited with him in Heaven. She uses her knowledge of herbs to concoct a poison. But while drinking the deadly potion, she realises that she is committing a mortal sin and fears being damned to eternal separation from her son. An apparition restores her already-diminished faith: the Virgin Mary brings Angelica and her beloved child together.

 

Gianni Schicchi

Florence, the year 1299. Rich, old Buoso Donati has died, and his relatives are gathered around his deathbed in expectation of receipt of his material legacy. The rumour, however, is that Buoso has bequeathed everything to the monks. His family feverishly search for his will and discover, as feared, that they have been disinherited. Buoso’s oldest relative, Simone, believes that nothing can be done. But young Rinuccio, his nephew, knows who can help: Gianni Schicchi – an upstart from the countryside, sure, but one who knows every trick in the book. Rinuccio’s suggestion is not altogether unselfish, while he is in love with Schicchi’s daughter Lauretta, and hopes that her father can convince the older Donatis to consent to this coupling of two people from very different social classes. Schicchi, pre-emptively invited by Rinuccio, is so disgusted by the arrogance of Zita and all the other Donatis that he decides that he and his daughter should leave again immediately. But Lauretta, just like her father, begs him to stay and insinuates in a disarming tone that she would rather take her own life. Schicchi then backs down and ultimately has the perfect idea. As nobody but those present are aware of Buoso’s death, he slips into the role of the deceased, makes a fool of the vain doctor, and then, disguised and with an affected voice, composes a new will and testament with the notary in Buoso’s name. He naturally bequeaths the family more than the deceased had, but they must angrily watch as Schicchi then claims the majority of the wealth for himself. None of them dare to uncover the deception, however, as he makes it very clear what kind of punishment would await them as accomplices. At the end, the young couple kiss, while Schicchi turns to the audience and pleads for them to forgive his misdeed in light of the circumstances having benefitted the young lovers.