BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall, the world’s biggest and longest-running classical music festival, today presents Puccini’s late masterpiece “Il Tabarro” or “The Cloak,” with Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé, Lucio Gallo ( Michele ), Natalya Romaniw ( Giorgetta ), Adam Smith ( Luigi ) alongside them standing the extraordinary talent of Italian opera singer Annunziata Vestri ( La Frugola ).
An opera in one act, the first of the trio of Puccini’s operas known as “Il Trittico,” based on the play La Houppelande by Didier Gold and an Italian libretto by Giuseppe Adami. First performed on December 14th, 1918, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, this opera, Puccini “realistically” reached the apex of dramaturgy – which means in Italian “Verismo” ( from real life ). This operatic genre originated in Italian, literally with the same name. A style of Italian opera writing that flourished in the last decade of the 19th century, in the post-Romantic era that operatic tradition associated with Italian composers such as Pietro Mascagni, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano, Francesco Cilea and Giacomo Puccini.
The story takes place in Paris, in slums on the edge of the Seine, and tells the tragic and passionate lifestyle of the Parisian underclass represented by the tale of the barge owner Michele who suspects his young wife Giorgetta of being unfaithful. The characters stand out in the scene, bringing to life the sights and sounds of ‘900 Paris, with authentic specks, with their feelings, their small desires, their secret hopes, bitterness, and disillusions; observing them in the moment of frustrating and tiring work, as in the hour of relaxation, when a good drink can lift the spirits, and the sound of a barrel organ opens the dance. The light atmosphere of these first two parts is contrasted with the dark and desperate one of the last two: the atmosphere is defined as that at the beginning of the third when the public becomes a participant in the passionate story between Giorgetta and Luigi. The opera reaches its dramatic conclusion when Michele unexpectedly catches his wife’s lover at the strike of a match.
Two orchestral favorites set the watery scene: Respighi’s Fountains of Rome – by turns glistening in the sunlight and swathed in dawn mist – and the irrepressible musical antics of Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. ( Concert performance; sung in Italian, with English subtitles ).
By: Katya Marletta