Trying to outdo this year’s near-perfect performances in Carmen and The Italian Girl in Algiers could seem like a strained falsetto. But, Utah Opera’s offering of Suor Angelica—Giacomo Puccini’s second of three one-act operas in II trittico—holds its own. A forsaken woman, Sister Angelica, repents for bearing a child out of wedlock by entering a convent. After one of Puccini’s finest arias, “Senza mamma,” the shocking finale demonstrates the mortal power of love and leaves nary a dry eye in the house.
But then, prepare for emotional polarization—belly laughs with tear-stained cheeks. This double bill’s next piece, Gianni Schicchi—the third opera in II trittico—is hilarious. Its plot following a quirky—if not frantic—family is so juicy, it prompted Woody Allen to try his operatic directing debut at a performance in Los Angeles. Cynical and triumphant, this scheme-filled tale provides evening-ending smiles.
With both operas creating a well-balanced bill, tonight is perfect for opera newbies, but it still holds classic value for veteran fans.