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Il Trittico review at the Royal Opera House, London – ‘stylish’

Ermonela Jaho in Suor Angelica from Il Trittico at the Royal Opera House. Photo: Tristram Kenton Ermonela Jaho in Suor Angelica from Il Trittico at the Royal Opera House. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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First seen in its entirety in 2011, Richard Jones’ production of Puccini’s collection of three short works returns for its first revival.

Diverse as the pieces are, Jones hits all three on the head. While it was predictable that the mordant humour of Gianni Schicchi would suit his edgy style, his success in the dark thriller Il Tabarro and the intimate convent-based tragedy of Suor Angelica remains as unexpected as it is absolute. All three work the trick.

Jones is lucky in his casts. As Michele, the uneasy, betrayed barge owner in Il Tabarro, Lucio Gallo provides doomy presence, yet later turns with effortless skill into the rapscallion Schicchi in the evening’s comic finale. Patricia Racette engages the heart as Michele’s desperate wife, Giorgetta, while Carl Tanner presents her bold young lover Luigi with conviction.

Schicchi itself goes like clockwork, with the substantial cast comprising a strong ensemble team while including many standouts, with newcomer Sicilian tenor Paolo Fanale impressing as Rinuccio and UK soprano Susanna Hurrell as his girlfriend Lauretta. Seizing their moments in secondary parts are Elena Zilio’s priceless Zita, Tiziano Bracci as the canny Notary and veteran Gwynne Howell – still going strong at 77 – as local bigwig Simone.

But it’s the central panel – Suor Angelica – that proves the most involving experience. With its tale of a nun who commits suicide when she learns of the death of her illegitimate son, it used to be regarded as overly sentimental; but you’d need to possess a heart of stone to resist the absolute identification with the part offered by Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho, or the naked power of her confrontation with her unforgiving aunt, sung by Swedish contralto Anna Larsson. It is a performance not to be missed.

In the pit, Nicola Luisotti conducts all three scores with an assured sense of style.

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Puccini’s one-act operas all register strongly, with Ermonela Jaho providing an unforgettable Sister Angelica