Opera at The Basilica May 25, 2024

It is not every day that one hears the words Opera and Basilica mentioned in one and the same sentence. And yet, that is exactly what is about to happen at the end of June.

The Basilica of Saint Mary is partnering with Out of the Box Opera for the performance of Suor Angelica, a one act opera by Giacomo Puccini based on a libretto by Giovacchino Forzano first performed in 1918.
This opera is entirely set in an Italian convent in the latter part of the 17th C. The main character, Sr. Angelica, has lived in the convent for seven years. She was sent there by her aristocratic family to do penance for a sin she committed. Her family all but abandoned her.

An unexpected visit by her aunt at first excited Sr. Angelica. Sadly, her aunt was not there to reconnect with Sr. Angelica. The sole purpose of the visit was to have Sr. Angelica sign a document that would transfer her inheritance to her sister Anna Viola. Anna Viola was to be married to a man, willing to overlook the shame Sr. Angelica brought to her family. Sr. Angelica at first refuses as she wants her inheritance to go to her young, albeit illegitimate son. That is when she learns that her son died two years earlier.

Sr. Angelica signs the papers and collapses in tears. Soon she has a vision of her son calling her to heaven. She quickly concocts a poisonous drink and finishes it. While dying she is overcome with grief, fearing that she will be condemned to hell and will never see her son again. She fervently prays to the blessed Virgin asking for forgiveness. She also begs to be reunited with her son. That is when a great miracle happens.

Out of the Box Opera does things differently from more mainstream opera companies in that they do not set their operas in traditional theaters. They always select an alternative setting to stage each one of their operas. La Traviata, e.g. was set in a hotel. The Basilica of Saint Mary was thought to be the perfect place for Suor Angelica.

Also, instead of confining their audiences to their seats for the duration of the opera, they move them from one space to another. Suor Angelica will start with the opening scene of the opera in the undercroft of The Basilica where the sisters will be at work and enjoying some recreation. The confrontation between Sr. Angelica and her aunt, the Principessa will be set in the St. Joseph Chapel. The final scene of the miracle will be set in The Basilica.

Attendance at each performance will be limited to 200 guests to facilitate easy movement from space to space. The performances which will last about 75 minutes will take place on Wednesday, June 26, Thursday, June 27 and Friday, June 28 at 7:00pm. On Saturday, June 29 there will be a matinee performance at 2:00pm.

This promises to be a truly amazing experience not to be missed.

Johan van Parys, PhD
Managing Director of Ministries/ Director of Liturgy & Sacred Arts

Please go to www.outoftheboxopera.org to get your tickets today.

Opening night, also known as Basilica Night will be on Wednesday, June 26. We look forward to seeing you then or at any of the other performances.