• OTF –Puccini’s Trittico: Part Three – Gianni Schicchi

    This is the third instalment of our look at Puccini’s Trittico. I plan s fourth instalment next week to scan the discography of these operas.

    About Gianni Schicchi

    In my last OTF post on Suor Angelica, I made the statement that it was “probably the most popular of the set”, which at least one of you disagreed with. Gianni Schicchi is, if not the most popular of the set, certainly the most memorable for many reasons: it is Puccini’s only operatic comedy, it has the most memorable aria (arguably, the most well-known of Puccini’s arias altogether) and the only of the three triptych operas to follow Puccini’s original idea to stage aspects of Dabte’s Divine Comedy.

    Gianni Schicchi, unlike say Francesca da Rimnini, only has a passing reference in the Dante epic (Sean Bianco discusses this in the introduction for today’s performance). The opera places the characters in the middle of Medieval Florence, and in the midst of an obvious clash of so-called upper- and lower-classes. In this story, give one to the “little guy” (who, based on the Puccini choice of vocal timbre for the main protagonist wasn’t necessarily so little…). As the father to two daughters, I instantly relate to Schicchi insofar as he is a father resolved to do what he thinks to be best for his daughter, even if it means potential eternal damnation.

    As for the famous aria, O mio babbino caro, any father of any daughter must have been confronted with this situation: some would call it manipulation by Daddy’s Girl, being talked into something one would probably not normally do in order to please a pleading daughter.

    As I said in my first post if this series, Schicchi (like the other two Trittico operas) involves deception and death. However, there is nothing sinister here – the death is a precursor to the action, and is likely due to old age or natural causes and not to murder or suicide. As family members of Buoso Donati gather, the question of his last will and testament arises.

    I myself have had a rich relative pass away quite a long time ago. Uncle George was a shrewd stock market watcher, and lived out his old age in relative ease thanks to stock dividends. As the story goes, he bequeathed everything he owed to the Grey Nuns and not to his surviving relatives…

    Clearly, a similar twist of fate has occurred here, and nobody is more disappointed than Rinuccio, who wishes to marry his beloved Lauretta. However, without the expected inheritance from the rich uncle, this may not happen.
    Step in Lauretta and her father, Gianni Schicchi.

    And Lauretta’s pleading aria. Surely Gianni can do something? He may be a lower-class individual, but he can, after all, be very resourceful…

    Schicchi hatches a plan – what if we could somehow delay the announcement of Donati’s death long enough for somebody to rescind the will and have a new – more favourable – one drawn up, then that could solve this pickle. Agan, this Trittico opera involves a deception, and this one is at bold as they come!

    Puccini, in the spirit of any comedy worth its salt, asks us for some creative leeway, and has us believe that the cunning Schicchi can fool a doctor and a notary into believing “he” is Donati, and he draws up a new will, with some new provisos which will benefit Schicchi and, ultimately, the lovers.

    The Performance

    The owners of the YouTube videos I have been using so far in this series have been punted off the site. I will therefore use a version I uploaded and posted on the Internet Archive

    Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
    Gianni Schicchi
    Comic opera in One Act, Italian libretto by Giovacchino Forzano, based on an incident mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy
    Third of three operas that form Il Trittico (1918)

    Fernando Corena (Gianni Schicchi)
    Renata Tebaldi (Lauretta)
    Agostino Lazzari (Rinuccio)
    Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra and Chorus
    Conductor: Lamberto Gardelli

    Synopsis @ http://opera.stanford.edu/Puccini/Gi.../synopsis.html
    Italian libretto available @ http://www.impresario.ch/libretto/libpucgia_i.htm
    Performace URL : http://archive.org/details/PuccinisG...hicchicomplete

    December21 2012, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Child's Play" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel. Read more December 21 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: OTF –Puccini’s Trittico: Part Three – Gianni Schicchi started by itywltmt View original post
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
      Soave_Fanciulla -
      This video version of Gianni Schicchi is still available, again from the ROH with Lucio Gallo and Ekaterina Siurina:

    1. Yashin's Avatar
      Yashin -
      I really like the Met Opera version of this opera - see Youtube. Very good!

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