Sunday, July 6, 2008

Il Tabarro

Puccini's Il Tabarro debuted in New York City in 1918. Due to the ravages of World War I, an Italian debut was out of the question. Il Tabarro ("The Cloak") was originally staged as part of Il Trittico (“The Triptych”), which included three short operas of Puccini, the two others being Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica. Il Tabarro is an example of verismo, which departed from the usual focus of opera on the rich and powerful. Based on the French play La houppelande by Didier Gold, Il Tabarro takes place on the quays of Paris, focusing on the woes of an elderly barge owner Michele, his young wife Giorgetta, and her lover Luigi, the stevedore. In spite of the love story there is little that is truly romantic about Il Tabarro. The liaison between Giorgetta and Luigi arises from the desire to escape existence on the waterfront rather than from any deep affinity. Nevertheless, Puccini's music probes with sensitivity the feelings of anguish, of nostalgia, and of longing for a better life, all while conjuring up the mud and mist of the Seine. The docks are not all dreary; there is music, laughter and gleams of hope. However, since lust and adultery so often lead to murder and death, especially in the operatic world, Il Tabarro comes to a horrific finale. Puccini reveals once again how human passions, when allowed to run rampant, leave a wake of destruction. Share

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