Voix Humaine & Suor Angelica
La Voix Humaine
A woman is trying to speak with her lover of five years on the telephone, although communication is difficult. She lies about what she is wearing; he lies about where he is; she tries, unsuccessfully, to conceal that she has attempted suicide, and is by turns inquisitive, jealous, anxious, self-pitying, and nostalgic. As he is getting married the next day, and thus breaking off their relationship, in the end she has no one to love but the telephone itself.
Sister Angelica and two lay sisters are late for chapel. Some of the sisters confess they still long for worldly pleasures—Sister Genovieffa for the lambs she used to tend and Sister Dolcina for sweet things to eat. Sister Angelica denies she has any such desires, but the others know she desperately longs for some word from her family. For seven years she has heard nothing from them, and the sisters speculate that she was a princess, banished to the convent for reasons they have been unable to discover. Soon alms collectors arrive, distributing the food they have gathered. One of them mentions that a magnificent coach bearing a visitor stands outside the convent gate. Angelica is startled and, with increasing anxiety, asks her to describe the coach in detail. A bell rings announcing the visitor. The Abbess enters and tells Angelica that her aunt, the Princess, has come to see her. Approaching, the Princess rejects Angelica’s gestures of affection. The Princess explains that when Angelica’s parents died, she was made guardian of both Angelica and her sister, Anna Viola, and was given control over their inheritance (“Il principe Gualtiero”). Anna Viola is to be married and the Princess demands Angelica sign her share over to her sister. Having brought disgrace on the family name, the Princess declares, Angelica is no longer entitled to any part of the inheritance. Crushed by her aunt’s cruelty, Angelica swears she has repented. She cannot, however, erase the memory of her little son. Her aunt coldly tells her the child died two years ago. Her will now broken, Angelica sobs and signs the document. The Princess withdraws and Angelica grieves that her son died without his mother by his side (“Senza mamma”). Resolving to join her child in heaven, she drinks poison. She is then struck by the reality of what she has done and prays for salvation. A celestial choir is heard and Angelica sees a vision of the Blessed Virgin with her child.
-- adapted from The Metropolitan Opera