Suor Angelica
Canberra Opera Inc presents
Suor Angelica

15 Jul 2016 to 24 Jul 2016

Canberra Opera proudly presents Puccini's favourite opera Suor Angelica, sung in Italian with surtitles.

Join local dramatic soprano Karyn Tisdell in the title role, with other local artists Janene Broere, Louise Keast, Chloe Lankshear, Vivian Bachelier, Maddie Anderson as they sing their way through a heartfelt story of resilience, commitment, and lost love.

The story

The scene is the cloisters and garden of a convent in the late 16th century.
The opera establishes the daily life of the convent, nuns at prayer in the chapel, the Mistress of the Novices counselling her charges and so on. The sisters are excited by the annual occurrence of a natural phenomenon, on only three evenings a year the rays of the setting sun give the water in the font a glow as if the water is golden. The sisters decide they will sprinkle some of the golden water on the tomb of one of their recently departed community.

Sister Angelica has learned about the use of herbs in making potions to cure various illnesses and brews up one to ease the pain of a wasp sting. Angelica has been in the convent for seven years and is saddened by the fact that she has never had any contact from her family. She now hears that a very grand carriage has arrived at the entrance and Angelica instinctively knows it is a visitor for her. The Abbess comes to tell Angelica that her aunt, the Princess, has arrived.

Although eager to embrace her aunt, Angelica finds the Princess is cold and unfriendly, offering her only a hand to kiss. She harshly greets her niece, blaming her for the disgrace she brought on the family by having a child out of wedlock. She has come because Angelica’s younger sister is to be married and Angelica must sign a document renouncing any claim on the family fortune.

Angelica declares that she repents her sin, but cannot forget her son, who she only saw once. She begs her aunt to tell her of the boy’s welfare. Reluctantly the Princess tells her that the child was taken ill two years previously and has died. Once the document is signed the Princess departs and left alone, Angelica sings of the agony of her child dying without his mother’s blessing. The sisters try to comfort her but Angelica believes that a heavenly grace has descended on her and she knows the path she must take.

As the other nuns go to their cells for the night, Angelica mixes some herbs with the water from the font and in a trance like state she drinks the potion, which is in fact a poison. Too late she realises that she has sinned in committing suicide. In anguish she prays for forgiveness. The chapel doors open and an apparition of the Virgin Mary appears with a small white clad child, whom she urges toward Angelica. As the angelic choir sings Salve Maria, Angelica embraces her child and falls to the ground dead; happy in the knowledge she has achieved divine forgiveness.

With the possible exception of Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Puccini wrote very little of interest for a mezzo. In Suor Angelica the soprano of the title is matched in dominance by her aunt, the Princess, a contralto whose iron will and cold resolve make her a memorable villain.

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Wesley Music Centre (Wesley Uniting Church)
Session TimesTicket PricesDuration
60 minutes plus supper and concert

Creatives Stephanie McAlister Stephanie McAlister
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Cast Karyn Tisdell Karyn Tisdell
Suor Angelica
Karyn has been involved in many theatre productions including Geraldine Granger in The Vicar of Dibley (Tempo Theatre); Gina Marino in The Witches of Eastwick (Supa Productions), Jazz Garters II (Canberra Rep), Oklahoma! (Free Rain Theatre); Fiddler on the RoofLes MiserablesEvita and Lisa in The Pirates of Penzance (Canberra Philo). Karyn is a principal artist with Canberra Opera starring in their production of Suor Angelica in the title role as well as making her directorial debut for their 2017 production of Die Fledermaus. Karyn runs her own singing studio, La Voce Singing Studio, in Monash as well as teaching singing at Leg’s Dance Studio. 2018 will see Karyn reprising her role of Geraldine in The Vicar of Dibley: The Second Coming. more ...