The first education project with Kirill Petrenko features grand opera: Giacomo Puccini’s drama Suor Angelica(Sister Angelica), which together with Il tabarro (The Cloak) and Gianni Schicchi is part of the cycle of one-act operas that the Italian composer presented at the Metropolitan Opera in New York under the title Il trittico (The Triptych) in 1918. Suor Angelica tells a moving story: the protagonist, who after the birth of an illegitimate son was banished to a convent by her cold-hearted aunt, longs for her child. Life in the convent is characterized by rules and taboos, which the other sisters openly or secretly try to circumvent. When Angelica learns during a visit from her aunt that her son has died, she no longer wants to live and prepares a poisonous drink. As she dies, she has a vision that the Mother of God unites her with her child.
Although the setting and time have little to do with the reality of modern life, the message of the opera is more relevant than ever: it is about humanity in an inhuman environment and the struggle for one’s own dignity. The Berlin director Nicola Hümpel will explore these modern aspects of the work with her ensemble Nico and the Navigators and the performers. Themes from the past will be combined with current sociopolitical phenomena and individual experiences in a new form of musical theatre – close to everyday life, associative, challenging, moving, perplexing. In addition, Puccini’s magnificent music will be interpreted by Kirill Petrenko. The composer was able to musically illuminate and capture all the emotions of his protagonists with psychological sensitivity.
The Suor Angelica project fulfils the educational goals of the Berliner Philharmoniker on various levels. For one thing, the opera provides the Vocal Heroes, the Education Programme’s youth choir, with the opportunity for a wonderful performance. For another, young singers from Berlin’s universities and scholars from the Karajan Academy – musicians at the beginning of their careers – have the chance to appear in a highly professional opera production. Finally, Suor Angelica will also be an impressive experience for the whole family. At a time when school curricula devote less and less time to music, Kirill Petrenko and the Berliner Philharmoniker want to offer both parents and children opportunities to discover the expressiveness and beauty of this art in unique projects such as this.