- Reading time
- 4 min.
Giacomo Puccini’s Il trittico consists of three short operas representing different genres, which are not directly connected in terms of their content. Just like a collection of short stories, however, each part is subliminally interwoven with the others in terms of their thematic references.
The romantic love that once united the married couple Michele and Giorgetta is long gone. Ever since the death of their child, they have been unable to rekindle their romance. As he grows older, Michele becomes increasingly aware of the hardship and hopelessness of the socially disadvantaged while working on his barge. Giorgetta escapes the marriage by embarking on a passionate affair with Luigi, a virile labourer employed by her husband.
While life on the waterside carries on as usual, “Tinca” and “Talpa”, the other labourers on the barge, drown their sorrows with alcohol or, like “Talpa’s” wife “Frugola”, indulge in escapist fantasies. Michele dreams of experiencing the triumph of the underdog.
When Giorgetta arranges to meet up in secret with her lover Luigi that very same evening, catastrophe ensues: Michele murders his antagonist, and when Giorgetta arrives, he unveils her lover’s corpse, hidden under the very same cloak that he used to keep her warm back in the good old days.
Suppressed passions and unfulfilled desires characterise life in a convent: Sister Osmina sneaks secret ‘roses’ into Mass, hiding them up her sleeves. Sister Dolcina is craving sweets, while Sister Genovieffa wants to be physically close to someone. The biggest secret of all belongs to Sister Angelica, who is the mother of a child born out of marriage.
When Sister Angelica is visited by her cold-hearted aunt, who requires her to sign an inheritance waiver, she receives terrible news: her son died after a serious illness two years ago.
Sister Angelica tries to find comfort in prayer, but without success. Deserted by God and her fellow nuns, she decides that suicide is the only way out. As she dies, she sees a vision of her son standing before her and is comforted by the melodies of heavenly choirs.
As he lies dying, the wealthy man Buoso Donati bequeaths his possessions to a monastery. After his death, his many relatives – led by Buoso’s cousin Zita – discover his will. They are appalled by its contents and feel like they have been cheated out of their rightful inheritance.
Rinuccio, a young member of the clan, knows who to turn to: his girlfriend Lauretta’s father, the notorious Gianni Schicchi, must help the family. After initially being viewed critically as a member of the lower class, Gianni Schicchi eventually convinces the pompous family to go along with his plan: they will hide Buoso’s corpse, and Gianni Schicchi will put on his clothes and impersonate him to dictate a new will to the notary.
Unbelievably enough, Gianni Schicchi is able to successfully trick both the doctor and the notary, but the family itself ends up being duped again: Gianni Schicchi dictates a will to the notary in which he is the main beneficiary. What’s more, the outraged relatives can’t reveal his trickery because doing so would also expose their own involvement in the deception. The family has yet again been cheated out of its inheritance. The underdog Gianni Schicchi has come out on top, and the romantic relationship between the young lovers Rinuccio and Lauretta can continue to blossom in the future.