A young woman married to an ageing husband is looking for illicit love, and the daughter of wealthy parents sent to a nunnery as punishment for having an illegitimate child, are the very differing stories for Puccini’s two one-act operas.
Opera North’s revival of Il Tabarro in David Pountney’s seedy Paris dockside production contrasts with Michael Barker-Cavan’s cool and elegant convent, both settings just as the composer would have expected, a rare enough event in today’s opera world. Puccini totally entrusted the scene setting to the orchestra, and with the much welcomed return of the Dutch conductor, Jac van Steen, the company’s outstanding musicians perfectly captured every explicit detail. The casting for both was perfect, the distinguished Italian baritone Ivan Inveradi ideal as the brooding barge owner unable to control his wife’s infidelity as Giselle Allen looked and sounding a vibrant woman in search of a sexual relationship. As her lover, David Butt Philip, is a thrilling tenor with enormous potential.
Moving to the quiet surroundings of Suor Angelica, the French soprano, Anne-Sophie Duprels, garners our sympathy as she moves from quiet submission to uncontrolled anguish on discovering her son has died. Surrounding her are cameos from members of the chorus, and a chilling portrayal of her aunt from Patricia Bardon.
Leeds Grand Theatre
Further Leeds performances October 8, 14, 20, 26 and 29.
By David Denton