14 Dec 2008

PUCCINI: Il Tabarro — La Scala 2008

Il Tabarro [The Cloak]: Opera in one act (no.1 of Il Trittico).

Music composed by Giacomo Puccini. Libretto by Giuseppe Adami based on Didier Gold’s play La houppelande.

First Performance: 14 December 1918, Metropolitan Opera, New York

Principal Roles:
Michele, a barge-owner (age 50) Baritone
Giorgetta, Michele’s wife (age 25) Soprano
Luigi, a stevedore (age 20) Tenor
Il ‘Tinca,’ a stevedore (age 35) Tenor
Il ‘Talpa,’ a stevedore (age 55) Bass
La Frugola, Talpa’s wife Mezzo-Soprano

Setting: A bank of the river Seine, Paris, 1910


The stevedores relax with a drink and dance after the day's work. Michele is moody, aware that Giorgetta no longer returns his love. Frugola comes to collect her husband Talpa. Luigi's reflections on the futility of existence cause the others to relate their dreams of happiness: Frugola's in a cottage with her cat, Giorgetta's in Paris instead of on the dreary barge. She and Luigi realise that they came from the same village near Paris and recall its pleasures.

Luigi and Giorgetta arrange an assignation for later that night, but then he surprises her by asking Michele to leave him in Rouen on the next trip. He explains to Giorgetta that he cannot bear to share her with her husband, but agrees to come on board when she lights a match as a signal. Michele asks Giorgetta why she no longer loves him and both reflect sadly on how their lives have changed since the death of their child. She evades his question and goes inside, while he broods over the likelihood that she has a lover, dismissing Luigi as a possibility because of his request to go to Rouen.

He lights his pipe and Luigi, believing this to be the signal, comes on board. Michele forces him to admit his love for Giorgetta, then strangles him and hides the body under his cloak. He invites Giorgetta to protect herself from the night air under his cloak as she used to, flinging it open to reveal Luigi's body.

[Synopsis Source: Opera~Opera]

Click here for the complete libretti of Il Trittico.