Thu, Jul 13, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Puccini times three

The National Symphony Orchestra will stage one of Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s lesser-known works, ‘Il Trittico,’ which is actually a triptych: three operas in one production

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

American Allen Moyer created a very abstract set for Gianni Schicchi, one of the three operas that make up Giacomo Puccini’s Il Trittico, which the National Symphony Orchestra will present at the National Theater in Taipei next week.

Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Opera

For its annual opera production this year, the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO, 國家交響樂團) went with a work by one of conductor Lu Shao-chia’s (呂紹嘉) favorite composers, Giacomo Puccini.

However, instead of choosing La Boheme, Madama Butterfly or Turandot, Lu went with the lesser-known Il Trittico, which is actually a Puccini sampler and a potent combination of forbidden passions, murder, tragedy and broad comedy.

Il Trittico is a collection of three one-act operas: Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi.

Lu told a news conference in March 2012, as he prepared to conduct the NSO in a recital version of Suor Angelica at the National Concert Hall, that he liked Puccini’s operas because they deal with genuine human emotions, and that he thought Sour Angelica was “Puccini’s most beautiful piece.”

Il Trittico premiered on Dec. 14, 1918, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Gianni Schicchi was reportedly an immediate hit, while the other two were less enthusiastically received. Puccini later reluctantly approved its use as a stand-alone opera and its O mio babbino caro (Oh my beloved papa) has become a popular aria for sopranos.

Lu and the NSO assembled an international cast and crew for Il Trittico, led by James Robinson, who has been artistic director of the Opera Theater of St. Louis since 2009, and is considered one of the US’s most innovation stage directors.

The sets were designed by another American, Allen Moyer, who has a long list of opera, Broadway and dance production credits to his name.

Robinson and Moyer have collaborated on Il Trittico before: They did a production for the New York City Opera that premiered on Sept. 11, 2002, and one for the San Francisco Opera in September 2009. Both won rave reviews from those cities’ critics.

Performance notes:

WHAT: National Symphony Orchestra — Il Trittico

WHEN: Wednesday July 19 and Friday July 21 at 7pm and Sunday July 23 at 2:30pm

WHERE: National Theater (國家戲劇院), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)

ADMISSION: The only seats left are in the NT$1,800 to NT$5,000 range; available at NTCH box offices, online at and at convenience store ticketing kiosks

For Taipei, South Korean Kim Hwan was brought on to create the costumes and Taiwanese Lee Chun-yu (李俊餘) the lighting.

As for the storylines, the melodramatic Il Tabarro (The Cloak) is a dark story of love, cruelty and murder. It tells of barge owner Michele (South Korean baritone Paul Byong-woo Kong), who is afraid that his much younger wife Giorgetta (Taiwanese soprano Tso Han-ying, 左涵瀛) has fallen in love with someone else, possibly Luigi (Mexican tenor Hector Sandoval), one of his young stevedores.

Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica), which is set in a convent and so has an all-female cast, tells the story of an aristocratic woman who was banished to a nunnery for having an illegitimate child — one that she never saw — and is confronted by her aunt, the princess, who wants her to renounce her inheritance while telling her that her son has died.

Taiwanese soprano Lin Ling-hui (林玲慧) will sing the title role, with Taiwanese mezzo-soprano Weng Jo-pei (翁若珮) as the princess, South Korean mezzo-soprano Kim Jung-mi as the abbess and South Korean mezzo-soprano Min A Baek as the mistress of novices.

Gianni Schicchi is based on a character from Dante’s Inferno, purportedly inspired by a true story from 13th century Florence. It is the tale of a wealthy man, whose death sends his greedy relatives family plotting to alter his will, only to be bested by crafty peasant.

The principal roles will be sung by Australian baritone Janathan Summers as Schicchi, Taiwanese soprano Lee Chia-jun (李佳蓉) as his daughter Lauretta, Weng Jo-pei will make her second appearance of the show as Zita and Taiwanese tenor Fernando Wang (王典) as Rinuccio.

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