“Il Trittico” performed by Opera Carolina



  • Belk Theater (130 North Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202) Saturday, January 18th, 2014 @ 8:00pm
  • Belk Theater (130 North Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202) Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 @ 7:30pm
  • Belk Theater (130 North Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202) Sunday, January 26th, 2014 @ 2:00pm

Il Trittico is a triptych of one-act operas by Giacomo Puccini commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. Il Trittico premiered on December 14, 1918 at the Metropolitan Opera.

Performed in Italian with English titles.

The libretto for Il Tabarro is by Giuseppe Adami, based on the play La houppelande by Didier Gold.

The libretto for Suor Angelica is by Giovacchino Forzano.

The libretto for Gianni Schicchi is by Giovacchino Forzano, based on an episode in Dante’s Inferno.


Il Tabarro (The Cloak)

Paris. A barge docked along the Seine, c. 1910. Michele and his young wife Giorgetta have hired Tinca, Talpa and Luigi to unload the barge. The sun is setting; the day’s work is nearly complete. Giorgetta, who has been cool to her husband lately, brings wine for the men as reward for their labors. When she refuses his kiss, Michele leaves the men and Giorgetta to drink, and dance the hurdy-gurdy. He returns to tell his wife that work is scarce, and that he will have to let one of the men go. He is surprised when she suggests releasing Talpa or Tinca, but keeping Luigi. After a visit from Talpa’s wife Frugola, who rummages the streets of Paris, Tinca and Talpa leave for home. Luigi stays behind to ask Michele if he will take him to Rouen, where he hopes to start afresh. Michele says he’s better off in Paris and offers to keep him on. Left alone, Giorgetta and Luigi profess their passionate love for each other. Luigi vows to kill Michele so they can be together and they agree to meet that night. Michele asks his wife why she no longer loves him. Has she turned away from him because of his age and the death of their child? Michele concludes she has been unfaithful with one of the workmen and waits in the darkness. In the silence, Luigi enters to rendezvous with Giorgetta. He is caught by the jealous husband who strangles him, and hides his body in his cloak; revealing to Giorgetta the body of her lover.

Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica)

17th century Italy. A convent near Siena. As the nuns are leaving the chapel, Sister Genevieve admires the May sunshine streaming across the fountain. We learn that Sister Angelica comes from a wealthy and noble family and that she has not received a single visitor or letter in the seven years she has been cloistered. The Abbess announces a visitor is waiting for Sister Angelica. It is Angelica’s aunt, the Princess. Coldly, the old woman approaches her niece. She reminds her that when her parents died, she was entrusted with the care of their children and the family fortune. As Executor, she has decided that Angelica must renounce all claims to the family wealth, as her sister is engaged to be married. She brusquely presents Angelica with a legal document to sign. “After seven years this is all you have to say? Tell me about my son, the child who was taken from me, who I only saw once,” Angelica cries. Stiffly, the Princess tells her that her son died two years ago. As coldly as she entered, she leaves. In her anguish, Angelica takes poison, hoping to join her son in Heaven. At the last moment of her life, she realizes she has committed the mortal sin of suicide, and begs the Madonna for salvation. A miracle of forgiveness unites Sister Angelica with her lost son as the curtain falls.

Gianni Schicchi

15th century Florence, Italy. Surrounded by his relatives in his bedchamber, Buoso Donati, the richest man in Tuscany, dies. A rumor spreads: Buoso has left everything to the Church. Chaos ensues as the relatives tear apart the room to find the will, which only confirms the rumor. Buoso’s nephew, Rinuccio claims that only one person can save them – Gianni Schicchi. He has called for Schicchi and his daughter, Lauretta, who he wants to marry. Over the protestations of Rinuccio’s ancient aunt, Schicchi arrives. At first he refuses to help the hated Donati family, but his daughter, in the famous aria, “O mio babbino caro,” convinces him. Schicchi’s plan is set in motion: “You will call for a lawyer and witnesses. When the lawyer enters, I will imitate Buoso’s voice and dictate a new will.” The relatives are delighted and each lobbies Schicchi to leave them a piece of property. He warns them that the sentence for falsifying a will is exile. The lawyer and witnesses enter, and Schicchi, nearly good to his word, dictates a new will, leaving each relative the property they asked for, but leaving the best of the best to Buoso’s dear friend, Gianni Schicchi.

Giacomo Puccini (1856-1924)

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was born in Lucca in Tuscany, Italy on December 22, 1858 into a family of five generations of church organists, choirmasters and composers. His father died when Giacomo was five years old, and he was sent to study with his uncle Fortunato Magi, who considered him to be a poor student. As a teenager, Puccini served as an organist to the area churches and played the piano as entertainment at social events. In March 1876, the twenty-year old walked thirty kilometers to attend a performance of Verdi�s latest opera success, Aida. This event changed his life and he decided that he would make opera his life�s work.

The greatest influence in Puccini’s life was his mother, who petitioned and received a grant to send her son to the Milan Conservatory, where he worked diligently at his music and received his diploma in 1883. While studying at the Conservatory, Puccini obtained a libretto from Ferdinando Fontana, and entered a competition for a one-act opera in 1882. Although he did not win, Le Villi was later staged in 1884 at the Teatro Dal Verme and it caught the attention of Giulio Ricordi, head of G. Ricordi & Co. music publishers, who commissioned a second opera, Edgar, in 1889.

Edgar failed: it was a bad story and Fontana’s libretto was poor. This may have had an effect on Puccini’s thinking because when he began his next opera, Manon Lescaut, he announced that he would write his own libretto so that “no fool of a librettist” could spoil it. Ricordi persuaded him to accept Leoncavallo as his librettist, but Puccini soon asked Ricordi to remove him from the project. Four other librettists were then involved with the opera, due mainly to Puccini constantly changing his mind about the structure of the piece. It was almost by accident that the final two, Illica and Giacosa, came together to complete the opera. They remained with Puccini for his next three operas and probably his greatest successes: La Boheme, Tosca and Madama Butterfly.

Puccini’s next project took up a different dramatic challenge. Il Trittico is a group of three sharply contrasting one-act operas that together make up a complete evening: a sinister melodrama Il Tabarro; a sentimental religious tragedy, written entirely for women’s voices (Suor Angelica); and a comic Opera (Gianni Schicchi).


Jill Gardner, Sister Angelica in Suor Angelica

Noted for her “effortlessly produced, rich voice” (Opera News), American soprano Jill Gardner is swiftly establishing herself among today’s leading operatic heroines. This “powerhouse soprano” (Syracuse New Times) continues to garner national praise for her “sparkling personality” (Coral Gables Gazette), her “lustrous, golden soprano and riveting stage presence” (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) and for “her commitment, passion and ability to convey vocally the slightest nuance of emotion, making for gripping theater” (Opera News). Equally praised for her acting as well as her singing, Opera News observed of her Boston Lyric Opera performances of Tosca, “Soprano Jill Gardner, whose voice was fresh and focused, undertook the title role as if it were newly written. There was little of the conventional grand diva in her approach, and her character was all the more human for it. In Gardner’s hands, her Act II aria, “Vissi d’arte”, was not merely a famous showstopper but an opportunity to reveal layers of Tosca’s character.”

For the 2012-2013 season, Ms. Gardner sings the title role of Tosca in her debut with Opera Carolina as well as Arizona Opera and Hawaii Opera Theater. She will also join the roster of the Washington National Opera, covering the title role of Manon Lescaut in the spring.

During the 2011-2012 season the soprano returned to Arizona Opera and Tri-Cities Opera in the title role of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and reprised the role of Nedda in I Pagliacci in her debut with Michigan Opera Theater as well as for the inaugural season of Mill City Summer Opera in Minneapolis, MN. On the concert stage, she marked her debut with the Wichita Symphony in Beethoven’s Mass in C Major.

In the 2010-2011 season, Ms. Gardner made her celebrated return to Boston Lyric Opera in the title role of Tosca as well as making her company debuts with Arizona Opera in the role of Liu in Turandot, Opera Grand Rapids in her role debut of Manon in Manon Lescaut and Eugene Opera as Musetta in La Boheme. This season also marked Ms. Gardner’s role debut of Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore with Piedmont Opera.

Over the past few seasons, the young soprano marked her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut performing Nedda in I Pagliacci and covering Mimi in La Boheme, her Florida Grand Opera debut as Musetta in La Boheme, her Boston Lyric Opera debut as Mimi in La Boheme, her Madison Opera debut as Marguerite in Faust, as well as performing Countess Charlotte Malcolm in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music in her debut with Hawaii Opera Theater where she returned in the following season as Helmwige in Die Walkure. In concert, she made her Kennedy Center Debut with the Washington Chorus, under the baton of Julian Wachner, in a concert called The Essential Puccini, performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Vaughan William’s Serenade to Music with the Syracuse Symphony, Brahms’ Requiem with the Binghamton Philharmonic and Verdi’s Requiem with the Tower Arts Series of Dallas’ Highland Park United Methodist Church under the baton of Craig Jessop.

Additional engagements from recent seasons include a return to the Glimmerglass Opera as Eurydice in a new production of Orpheus in the Underworld, Margaret Johnson in the first opera house performances in The Light in the Piazza with Piedmont Opera, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow with the Syracuse Opera, the title role in Susannah with New York Opera Projects, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Mimi in La Boheme as well as the title role in Puccini’s Tosca with the Mercury Opera Rochester, and multiple performances with the Tri-Cities Opera including Violetta in La Traviata and Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro. Ms. Gardner also performed the role of Madama Erlecca in Cimarosa’s Li Sposi per Accidenti at Studio Lirico in Cortona, Italy.

In the summers of 2005 and 2006, Ms. Gardner was a member of the prestigious Young American Artist Program at the Glimmerglass Opera. During this tenure, she created the role of Madame Loiseau in the world premiere of Stephen Hartke’s The Greater Good, which was recorded on the Naxos Label. Also at the Glimmerglass Opera, Ms. Gardner added two new roles to her repertoire in cover assignments: Elle in Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine and the title role of Jenufa.

She has been the recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant of the Shoshana Foundation-NYC, a Special Opportunity Award from the New York Foundation of the Arts, an Emerging Artist Grant from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Division of the North Carolina Arts Council and participated in a Public Masterclass on Puccini Style for the George London Foundation with Catherine Malfitano. She received a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Centenary College of Louisiana.

Opera Carolina Performances:

Art to Poetry to Music (2013–2014)
Il Trittico (2013–2014)
Tosca (2012–2013)

Dongwon Shin, Luigi in Il Tabarro

2012 began with Korean born tenor Dongwon Shin’s appearances in Montreal as Manrico which was now followed by his return to Dresden for this role. Last spring, he made his debut as Radames at Covent Garden and just prior at the Vienna Staatsoper and later in the spring performed Manrico in his return to Ft. Worth Opera. Earlier in 2011 he had performed the Verdi Requiem as well as Samson at the Teatro Verdi, Trieste. He also recently debuted with San Francisco Opera as Radames and performed Manrico in Dresden again to begin 2010-11 after scoring a great success as Manrico in his debut with the Semperoper, Dresden last season. He also covered Dick Johnson in San Francisco’s Fanciulla. Last year he performed Radames in his return to Opera Australia in their revival of Aida as well as completing his first engagement at the Metropolitan Opera covering Turridu. Just prior he debuted at the Deutsche Oper Berlin as Radames after performing his signature role Calaf again with Dayton Opera. In summer 2008 he sang a “thrilling” Radames in the Savonlinna Festival’s Aida. Earlier in 2008 he sang Calaf to glowing reviews with Ft. Worth Opera: “Tenor Dongwon Shin met the challenge on Saturday. His Nessun dorma was the highlight of an incredible evening for him and for the Fort Worth Opera.” That spring he also sang Manrico in Il Trovatore with Nashville Opera after making his Italian debut as Samson in Lecce. Just prior he was Calaf in Turandot with Palm Beach Opera having just performed this role with Opera New Zealand as “a superb Calaf with a wonderfully strong, fully italianate voice, and brought the house down in Nessun Dorma”. He made his professional operatic debut in 2005 as Radames in Aida with Opera Company of Philadelphia. In 2007 he made a dramatic debut with Opera Australia as Calaf in Turandot, arriving the day before the opening and receiving both public and critical acclaim-and has been reengaged to return in 2009.

Mr. Shin has also sung with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach in the Gala Concert celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Academy of Music. He first sang Calaf in Turandot with Santa Fe Opera in 2005 and subsequently sang it at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall Association.

Other recent engagements have included Radames in Aida with Houston Grand Opera under Carlo Rizzi, the title role in Samson et Dalila with Dayton Opera, Canio in Pagliacci with Opera Delaware, Pollione in Norma with Michigan Opera Theatre, and the Verdi Requiem with the Delaware Symphony. Mr. Shin distinguished himself early in a number of competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (National Finalist), Loren Zachary Competition, Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation Competition, Caruso-Altamura International Competition, Maria Anderson Competition, Giargiari Competition (1st & Audience Favorite). He was a 2005 graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where he sang the title role in Puccini’s Edgar and Gennaro in Lucrezia Borgia. Before attending AVA, he received a BM in Music from Seoul National University and also attended Indiana University.

In 2012-13 he is with Arizona Opera as Manrico and performs Calaf and Cavaradossi in Korea and performs concerts in Seoul and throughout Korea. New roles coming up include Don Jose in Carmen and Luigi in Il Tabarro.

Opera Carolina Performances:

Il Trittico (2013–2014)

Susan Nicely, Zita in Gianni Schicchi
Mezzo Soprano

Mezzo-Soprano Susan Nicely is known for her rich voice and vivid characterizations. Her highly acclaimed “lively comic presence” in roles such as Dame Marthe in Faust, Old Lady in Candide, Katasha in The Mikado, and Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, as well as dramatic portrayals in Cavalleria Rusticana as Mamma Lucia and The Ballad of Baby Doe as Mama McCourt make the character mezzo an “audience darling,” says the Austin American-Statesman. Up next, she performs both Auntie in Peter Grimes and Gertrude in Romeo et Juliette with Des Moines Metro Opera Little Buttercup in HMS Pinafore with Arizona Opera; and the roles of Frugola, Principessa, and Zita in Il Trittico with Opera Carolina. A house favorite with the Dallas Opera, she has appeared there as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor, Annina in La Traviata, Hannah in Maria Stuarda, Tisbe in La Cenerentola, the Nurse in Boris Godunov, and most recently in a highly acclaimed performance of Julia Child in Lee Hoiby’s one-woman opera, Bon Appetit! Proclaimed D Magazine: “Mezzo-soprano Susan Nicely… delivered the goods with a gorgeously textured, rich vocal timbre and a perfect touch of slapstick, expanding on and somewhat exaggerating Child’s endearing, always-laughed-off clumsiness.” Also a house favorite at the Atlanta Opera, she has seen performances there as Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor, Mary in The Flying Dutchman, Thelma Predmore in Cold Sassy Tree, Berta in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Annina in La Traviata.

Engagements from the past few seasons include Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro with Arizona Opera and the Orlando Philharmonic, Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana with New York City Opera, Arizona Opera, and Opera Tampa; Gertrude in Romeo et Juliette with the New Orleans Opera and Opera Grand Rapids; Katasha in The Mikado with the Indianapolis Opera and Portland Opera; Emma Jones in Street Scene, Dame Quickly in Falstaff, and Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro with Chautauqua Opera; Berta in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Omaha; The Old Lady in Candide with Austin Lyric Opera; Marquise de Berkenfeld in La Fille du Regiment with Florentine Opera; Annina in La Traviata with Opera Pacific; the Witch in Hansel und Gretel with Chicago Opera Theatre; Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore with Opera Cleveland; and Dame Marthe in Faust with Palm Beach Opera.

Ms. Nicely made her European debut in Strasbourg, France in the role of Mary with Opera du Rhine’s production of Der Fliegende Hollander and her debut in South America as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd with Opera Breve in Caracas, Venezuela. Other acclaimed previous engagements include Mother Goose in The Rake’s Progress with San Francisco Opera; Mamma Lucia in Cavelleria Rusticana, Governess in Pique Dame and Mrs. Ott in Susannah with Lyric Opera of Chicago; Marthe in Faust with Houston Grand Opera; and Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro with Cincinnati Opera.

Orchestral appearances include concerts with the Milwaukee Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Grant Park Symphony of Chicago, Wheeling Symphony, Des Moines Symphony, and the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.

Opera Carolina Performances:

Il Trittico (2013–2014)
Love Notes (2008–2009)

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