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Arts and Entertainment

Three operas, one night
'Il Trittico' debuts in Charlotte Jan. 18
Published Tuesday, January 14, 2014
by Michaela L. Duckett

clientuploads/v38n13photos/Victor Ryan Robertson_300.jpg
Opera tenor Victor Ryan Robertson plays Rinuccio in "Gianni Schicchi" the final opera of "Il Trittico." 

Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s “Il Trittico (The Trio)” will make its Charlotte debut this month. Opera Carolina is bringing the triple bill of one-act operas to the stage Jan. 18 at Belk Theater.

“For the first time in Opera Carolina’s 65-year history, we’re offering three great one-act operas in one exciting evening,” Maestro James Meena said. “The themes of each are as different as you can possibly get, but the thread that unites them is the brilliant composer who has given us memorable operas like ‘La Boheme,’ ‘Tosca’ and ‘Turandot.’”

Puccini is also the composer of “Madama Butterfly.”

In "Il Trittico," Puccini entertains with stories of betrayal, salvation and slapstick humor. While this trio of operas include some of Puccini’s most powerful melodies and most famous music, it is one of his least frequently performed works.

“Seldom does a company do all three,” said opera tenor Victor Ryan Robertson. "I love that Charlotte is taking the time to do this. It’s tough to do all three, but ‘Il Trittico’ is glorious and each individual opera is quite different.”

In one night, “Il Trittico,” originally commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in 1918, takes the audience on a journey through three beautiful destinations in Europe.

The first mini-opera, “Il Tabarro (The Cloak),” is set in Paris on a barge docked along the Seine. It is a tale of forbidden love, loss, betrayal and murder.

The second, “Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica),” takes place in a convent in Southern Italy, where a nun seeks to end her life after receiving unbearable news during an unexpected visit from an estranged family member.

The finale, “Gianni Schicchi,” is set at the Palazzo of Buoso Donati in Renaissance Florence. When Donati, the richest man in Tuscany, dies, rumors spread and chaos ensues as his family seeks the lay claim to his fortune, which he has left to the church.

Robertson, who got his start singing pop and R&B with an Atlanta band, plays the role of Rinuccio. He is Donati’s nephew and helps to devise a scheme for the family to inherit his deceased uncle’s riches all while pursuing a love interest.

Robertson said he hopes Charlotte audiences will appreciate the rare occasion to see all three operas performed in one night.

“’Il Trittico’ is Puccini’s finest work,” he said. “This was written six years before his last piece, which was ‘Turandot.’ So it was one of the final pieces that he wrote, and puts his full genius on display… His music was much more complex and beautiful in his later years. It’s fantastic to sing.”

Robertson’s advice to those who have yet to attend an opera is to not be deterred by misconceptions.

“Opera is not as stuffy as some people imagine,” he said. “People think they need to get dressed in sequins or put on a tux. You can do that; especially on opening night, you would not look strange. But you can also come in jeans… Back in the day, opera was for the people. It was for the public, and now it’s kind of turned upside down and seems more elitist… It was never intended that way. It’s music. Come get comfortable, and watch good musical theater.”

“Il Trittico” is the second production of Opera Carolina’s 2013-14 season, themed “The Architects of Love.” The season began with Verdi’s “Aida” and will conclude with Wagner’s haunting tale of love and the high seas, “The Flying Dutchman,” opening March 22.

Additional performances of “Il Trittico” will run Jan. 23 and 26. Visit OperaCarolina.org or call (704) 372-1000 for tickets or more information.


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