The second of the three one act operas first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in 1918, Suor Angelica used to be the least performed of the Trittico operas. But it recently has gained in popularity. It now ranks 65 in frequency of performance of operas throughout the world. Like most of Puccini’s less performed operas it seems to get better every year. It’s depiction of convent life is acutely evocative. The confrontation of the gentle Angelica with her austere aunt is a highlight of the work. The conclusion of the opera when performed by a great singing actress is one of the most emotionally charged episodes in all opera.
I saw Diana Soviero sing the role at the Met in 1989. It was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in 60 years of opera going. Soviero’s death scene was a shattering experience which roused the Met’s audience to an Everest of emotion.
Below is a 1962 recording of the the opera with Renata Tebaldi in the title role. This recording was made while Tebaldi was still near the peak of he vocal powers and thus before the deterioration was marked the last 10 years of her career. Giulietta Simionato is brilliant as the cruel aunt. Lamberto Gardelli’s conducting is sensitive and evokes the small world Angelica inhabits.
Click here to listen —> Suor Angelica
Suor Angelica: Renata Tebaldi
La Zia Principessa: Giulietta Simionato
La Badessa: Lucia Danieli
La Maestra delle novizie: Anna Di Stasio
La Zelatrice: Miti Truccato Pace
Suor Genovieffa: Dora Carral
Suor Osmina; Yeda Valtriani
Suor Dolcina: Giuliana Tavolaccini
La Sorella Infermiera: Anna Di Stasio
Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fior
Conductor: Lamberto Gadrdelli