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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Monday, December 14

Puccini's triple premiere in New York

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1918, the Metropolitan Opera in New York offered the world premiere performance of not one, not two, but three brand-new operas by Giacomo Puccini.

The three one-act operas are collectively billed as “Il Trittico” or “The Triptych.” In order of their presentation at the Met, the triptych consisted of “Il Tabarro” (or “The Cloak”), a rather sordid tale of passion and murder, followed by a sentimental tear-jerker titled “Suor Angelica” (or “Sister Angelica,” after its Romantic heroine), and, for a comic finale, “Gianni Schicchi,” titled after the resourceful hero of its comic plot.

Musical America reported a warm welcome for the three new Puccini operas, but did find “Il Tabarro” “in the main, black and brutal.” In that journal’s opinion, the hit of the evening was the comic opera, “Gianni Schicci.” In particular, one brief soprano aria from that opera so pleased the first night audience that it had to be encored.

Over time, this little aria, “O mio babbino caro,” has become one of Puccini’s “Greatest Hits,” and has even cropped up in the soundtracks of a movies like “A Room With a View” and “G.I. Jane.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Giacomo Puccini (1858 - 1924) Gianni Schicchi Angela Gheorghiu, soprano; London Symphony; Antonio Pappano, cond. EMI 56587

Additional Information

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