Opera Scotland

Gianni Schicchi

Third part of Il Trittico, three one act operas designed to be played together. The others are Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica.

Music
Giacomo Puccini (born Lucca, 22 December 1858; died Brussels, 29 November 1924).

Text
Giovacchino Forzano.

Source
Original scenario based on a character mentioned in The Inferno, Canto XXX (Dante 1265-1321).

Premières
First performance: New York (Metropolitan Opera), 14 December 1918.
First UK performance: London (Covent Garden), 18 June 1920.
First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 7 November 1923.
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Background
Gianni Schicchi has always been significantly the most popular of the Trittico pieces, and given its success, it seems surprising that it is Puccini’s only attempt at a comedy. Also, when it is separated from the other two, the question always arises of what to play before it, and several different attempts have been made without achieving greater success than Puccini’s original arrangement.

Main Characters
Zita, a cousin aged 60 (mezzo-soprano)
Rinuccio, her nephew aged 24 (tenor)
Gherardo, Buoso’s nephew aged 40 (tenor)
Nella, his wife aged 34 (soprano)
Betto di Signa, Buoso’s poor brother-in-law, age unknown (bass)
Simone, a cousin aged 70 (bass)
Marco, his son aged 45 (baritone)
La Ciesca, Marco’s wife 38 (mezzo-soprano)
Gianni Schicchi, aged 50 (baritone)
Lauretta, his daughter aged 21 (soprano)

Plot Summary
In Florence, 1299, wealthy Buoso Donati has just died, surrounded by grieving relatives. They have heard a rumour that his property has been left to the church. They start searching for his will, becoming more frantic as each finds another false trail. When Rinuccio at last finds it, he demands as his reward permission to marry Lauretta, the daughter of Schicchi, a notorious rogue. He sends the boy Gherardino away to fetch the pair while the older relations gather round to read the will. It is as they feared, and the monks will grow fat on their money. No solution seems obvious, but Rinuccio maintains that Schicchi will think of something. When he arrives the problem is explained to him, at which point Lauretta sings her famous appeal “O, mio babbino caro”. In spite of the insults from Zita and the others, and only to help Rinuccio and Lauretta, he agrees to assist. He at last has an idea. Lauretta is sent out to feed the birds so that she can’t overhear, and it is confirmed that nobody else knows of Buoso’s death. When the doctor arrives, Schicchi gets into bed behind the curtains, and, imitating Buoso, says he is feeling better. The doctor goes, and preparations are made for the dictation of a new will. Each then gives him instructions about the disposition of property, to which he agrees. He then points out the penalty for discovery – amputation of the right hand and exile from Florence. When the lawyer arrives with two witnesses, Schicchi announces an economical funeral and small bequests to each relation in turn. However the major prizes are left to Schicchi himself.

The Cast

Betto di Signa
 a cousin, age unknown
Buoso Donati
 the deceased
Gherardino
 Gherardo's son, aged seven
Gherardo
 Buoso's nephew, aged forty
Gianni Schicchi
 aged fifty-one
Guccio
 a dyer
La Ciesca
 Marco's wife, aged thirty-eight
Lauretta
 Schicchi's daughter, aged twenty-one
Maestro Spinelloccio
 a doctor
Marco
 Betto's son, aged forty-five
Nella
 Gherardo's wife, aged thirty-four
Pinellino
 a cobbler
Rinuccio
 Zita's nephew, aged twenty-four
Ser Amantio di Nicolao
 a notary
Simone
 a cousin, aged seventy
Zita
 a cousin of Buoso, aged sixty

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