Il tabarro is a One-Act Opera written by the Italian composer Giacomo Puccini, and is the first of the three Operas that compose Il Trittico. When Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi debuted on the Metropolitan Opera House' stage, the critics welcomed them with mixed feelings. Gianni Schicchi was actually praised, while the other two weren't much appreciated. After the American premiere, Il Trittico arrived in Italy in January 1919, conducted by Gino Marinuzzi, who took Arturo Toscanini's place because of the hard feelings between the latter and the composer. Arturo Toscanini had, in fact, labeled the libretto of Il Tabarro despicable and the music boring and unexceptional, and Giacomo Puccini, offended, refused to commit the conduction of the opera to him when it was to debut at Covent Garden in London.
Synopsis Il tabarro
It is close to sundown in Paris, and the stevedores work unloading Michele's barge. Giorgetta, Michele's wife, asks her husband if she can bring wine to the workers. He agrees but does not join them because she refuses his kiss. Michele has been thinking about his marriage loads: Giorgetta has been refusing his affection always with different excuses and he's starting to think she has an affair with someone else. When they have finished loading the boat, the stevedores depart except for Luigi, who asks Michele to dismiss him and let him off in Rouen, but Michele convinces him against this, saying there is not enough work in Rouen. When they are alone, Giorgetta asks Luigi why he requested to be dismissed and they confess their love for each other. They plan to meet later that evening, when Michele will be asleep in bed, upon the signal of a match being lit on-board. Later that night, Michele reminisces with Giorgetta of the happy days of their marriage, before their child died and how he could cover the two of them under his cloak. She comforts him but she still will not kiss him, and goes off. Michele wonders if Giorgetta is unfaithful to him and ponders who might have changed her so much. He reviews the list of men who have shared in their lives but dismisses each of them as improbable. Since he can't sleep, Michele sits on the boat and lights his pipe. Luigi, who's waiting for Giorgetta's signal, sees a light on the boat and thinks that is the match lit by Giorgetta. He goes to the barge only to find Michele, who understands straight away that the man is there to meet his wife. The two men confront each other and fight, Michele gets the upper hand and forces Luigi to confess his affair. But Michele, blind with fury, kills him and hides the body under his cloak. Giorgetta, worried that her husband hasn't gone to bed yet, comes on the deck of the boat. Michele opens wide the cloak and reveals the body of her dead lover.