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The Terrific Tuscan Triptych

Los Angeles
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
09/06/2008 -  and September 11, 14, 17, 21, 23 and 26, 2008
Giacomo Puccini: Il Trittico
Il Tabarro: Mark Delavan (Michele), Anja Kampe (Giorgetta), Salvatore Licitra (Luigi), John Del Carlo (Talpa), Tichina Vaughn (Frugola), Matthew O’Neill (Tinca), Robert MacNeil (Song Vendor), Lori Ann Fuller and Daniel Montenegro (Lovers)
Suor Angelica: Sondra Radvanovsky (Sister Angelica), Larissa Diadkova (The Princess), Ronnita Nicole Miller (The Abbess), Tichina Vaughn (The Monitor), Catherine Keen (Headmistress of the Novices), Jennifer Black (Sister Genovieffa), Angel Blue (Sister Osmina), Danielle Walker (Sister Dolcina), Melissa Citro (Infirmary Sister), Karen Vuong and Tammy Jenkins (Lay Sisters), Karin Mushegain (A Novice), Lori Ann Fuller and Malesha Jessie (Almoner Sisters), Rebecca Tomlinson, Sara Campbell, Leslie Dennis, Jennifer Wallace, Renee Sousa (Five Sisters)
Gianni Schicchi: Thomas Allen (Gianni Schicchi), Laura Tatulescu (Lauretta), Jill Grove (Zita), Saimir Pirgu (Rinuccio), Greg Fedderly (Gherardo), Rebekah Camm (Nella), Andrea Silvestrelli (Simone), Steven Condy (Betto di Signa), Brian Leerhuber (Marco), Lauren McNeese (La Ciesca), Levi Hernandez (Maestro Spinelloccio), Philip Cokorinos (Ser Amantio di Nicolao), Sage Ryan (Gherardino), Daniel Armstrong (Pinellino), Craig Colclough (Guccio)
Stuart Canin (Los Angeles Opera Concert Master), Grant Gershon (Associate Conductor/Chorus Master), James Conlon (Conductor)
William Friedkin (Director, Il Tabarro/Suor Angelica), Woody Allen (Director, Gianni Schicchi), Santo Loquasto (Set Designer, Il Trittico), Sam Fleming (Costume Designer, Il Tabarro/Suor Angelica), Santo Loquasto (Costume Designer, Gianni Schicchi), Mark Jonathan (Lighting Designer, Il Trittico)

(© Robert Millard)

Los Angeles Opera pulls out all the stops with the commencement of the 2008-2009 season by continuing the 150th anniversary celebration of composer Giacomo Puccini in the unique work, Il Trittico. For a great part of Puccini’s professional life he was desirous of completing a series of three one-act operas better known as the triptych. Despite seven years of adversarial elements including publisher Giulio Ricordi’s initial opposition, family strife and the outbreak of World War I, Puccini, nonetheless, was successful in achieving his dream with the Metropolitan Opera hosting the world premiere on December 14, 1918.

This new production is a compendium of international talent that begins with Il Tabarro, set on the river Seine and Santo Loquasto’s stunning scenery that begins with a moving barge ready to dock on the water’s banks while the stevedores chorally depict drudgery and support the strength of Mark Delavan’s Michele. Perpetuating her operatic caliber from last year’s Fidelio as Leonore is Anja Kampe in the role of Giorgetta, a tormented woman caught up in an illicit affair with famed tenor Salvatore Licitra who escalates enough enflamed passion to cause a seething Delavan to take his life while the curtain closes with Kampe’s piercing screams witnessing her lover’s fate. It is all too realistic with the added punch of brilliant lighting by Mark Jonathan and James Conlon’s orchestral underpinning.

Of the three Suor Angelica is the least performed and oft neglected, yet it ironically captures Puccini’s love of the Roman Catholic faith despite his perceived nonchalance. Sondra Radvanovsky sings the title role and accomplishes the unthinkable with her mesmerizing oration, grabbing control of every note every breath and every plea that leaves the audience in complete awe. Some of Puccini’s most emotional and soaring lines are embedded in Suor Angelica, and Radvanovsky delivers brilliantly.

Alongside the beautiful score are costumes created by Sam Fleming that bathe the nuns in rich white and lavender robes while The Princess is symbolically cinched in devilish black making Larissa Diadkova the best candidate as Angelica’s evil aunt. “Leave out no lighting detail” is synonymous with Mr. Jonathan that captures the essence of the score and Loquasto’s true-to-life Tuscan convent includes a running fountain. Finally all artistic disciplines are subliminally displayed as dying Sister Angelica extends her hand to her approaching dead son with the Madonna floating in center stage in pacific acknowledgement. William Friedkin once again brings success to the operatic stage with his profound insights and innate qualities that result in a standing ovation. This is truly one of the finest productions The Dorothy Chandler has ever seen.

As tragedy prevails in two of the three operas, Gianni Schicchi retains the prized honor as well, but in contrast with a farcical stride. Director Woody Allen makes his operatic debut with this tight, fast-moving comedy that finds all family members selfishly anticipating fortune from the recently expired Buoso Donati. In this Puccini work we find Santo Loquasto taking on both set and costume designs that are wonderfully crafted in blacks and whites. Complete with hanging wash, spiral staircase, curvliniear wrought iron balcony and deathbed, the entire stage is energized by a huge photo mural of the Florence skyline.

Thomas Allen is the devious Gianni who successfully winds up having every Donati clansman hating him. Laura Tatulescu is another cast member making her LA Opera debut singing the ever popular and famous “O mio babbino caro” with aplomb who joins the initiation with her operatic suitor, Rinuccio, sung by the vibrant spitfire Saimir Pirgu. Gianni Schicchi has an endless familial retinue, and they all are pivotal. Without these gifted performers this production would not have the profound impact to an already remarkable triptych.

Mark Il Trittico on your calendar if you are coming to Los Angeles. Hundreds of individuals make this Puccini package one of the finest.

Christie Grimstad



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