Opera Scotland

Gianni Schicchi 1924British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Gianni Schicchi

Puccini's comic masterpiece had made its first appearance in Scotland on the BNOC tour the previous year.  It was no surprise to see it returning immediately.  However the usual problem with a successful one-acter arose - What on earth do you pair it with?  In Edinburgh, Gianni Schicchi was the second part of an interesting double bill with another recent piece, Holst's Perfect Fool.  In Glasgow, its pairing at a Saturday matinee at the end of the Scottish tour was clearly popular if less imaginative.  Its partner was Pagliacci.

No programme has been located as yet, and the press reports, unusually, give very little details of casting.

 

The Critical Response

The Scotsman of Friday, 31 October (p6) was enthusiastic:

As attractive a double bill as could be desired, Holst's Perfect Fool and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, was presented at the King's Theatre last night.  Both operas were heard in Edinburgh for the first time last season, and it was satisfactory, not only to find them included in the repertory of the present visit of the British National Opera Company, but also to see them so well received.  One of the great obstacles to operatic progress has been a certain distrust on the part of the public, of the unfamiliar, and it is good to see this distrust disappearing.  The Perfect Fool, with its fantastic humour, and Gianni Schicchi, a piece of unctuous satire, improve on a new hearing, and Gianni Schicchi, with a power of execution far beyond any of Puccini's previous works, particularly so.......

'There was a like excellence in the rendering of the Puccini opera, with Mr Herbert Langley displaying a fine spirit of comedy as the unscrupulous Gianni outwitting the grasping relatives of a dead man.  The other characters were all good.  Particular mention must be made of a newcomer, Miss Leonie Zifado, who sang delightfully as Lauretta, daughter of Gianni, and of Mr Tudor Davies of her lover Rinuccio.

'Under the direction of Mr Malcolm Sargent, both operas were given with an appropriate briskness, but there were times the orchestra rather overpowered the voices.' 

 

The Glasgow View

The Glasgow Herald of Monday, 24 November (p10) also had to provide space for the Saturday evening Tannhäuser, so has little space for comment:

'For their matinee performance in the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, on Saturday the British National Opera Company presented a double bill of modern Italian works.  Special interest attached to the production of Puccini's one-act opera, Gianni Schicchi.  It had its English premiere in Glasgow during the company's visit last year, and created a very favourable impression, which was confirmed by the performance on Saturday afternoon.

'The stage presentation of this highly diverting story is most effective, and could hardly fail of itself to win favour for the work, but when the attraction is added of appropriate music from Puccini then success is assured.  The composer has done some excellent things in this little work, and especially has succeeded very cleverly in reflecting in his music the  humour of the situation.

'The performance on Saturday differed in some details from that given a year ago, and there was on the whole more subtlety displayed in presenting the story.  This was a distinct advantage, for the funny side of the episode is so obvious and so genuinely founded that it may well be left to express itself.

'Mr Herbert Langley in the name part was inclined once or twice during the making of the will to underline some of his points.  It seems unnecessary, when he is so coolly bequeathing the best of the estate to himself, to emphasise the name of Gianni Schicchi to an extent that would surprise any but a stage lawyer.  The duty of emphasising the point might safely be left to the infuriated relatives of Buoso.  Apart from this little tendency to stress the obvious, Mr Langley gave a most clever personation of a great part, bringing to his task a big range of vocal colour and significant gesture.

'The nine relatives of the deceased Buoso Donati played and sang their important ensemble work very well indeed, and presented a more closely knit performance than was previously achieved.  The other roles in this delightful comedy opera were also well filled, and the production met with an enthusiastic reception.'

 

BNOC's 1924 Scottish tour

The BNOC tour of Scotland in 1924 lasted five weeks - two in Edinburgh (King's) then three in Glasgow (Theatre Royal).

Amazingly, four operas by British composers were toured, as well as four French, though only one by Verdi.  As usual, Wagner and Puccini seem to enjoy undying popularity.  One Russian piece also puts in an appearance.

A total of 19 works were performed:

Mozart (Marriage of Figaro,  Magic Flute);   Wagner (Tannhäuser,  MastersingersSiegfried);  Verdi (Aïda);  Gounod (Faust);  Offenbach (Tales of Hoffmann);  Bizet (Carmen);  Rimsky-Korsakov (Golden Cockerel);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);   Puccini (BohèmeMadam ButterflyGianni Schicchi);  Debussy (Pelléas and Mélisande);  Mackenzie (Eve of St John);  Vaughan Williams (Hugh the Drover);  Holst (Perfect Fool);  Boughton (Alkestis).

The performance schedule is as follows:

Edinburgh,  w/c 27 October:  Mon 27 Marriage of Figaro;  Tue 28 Carmen;  Wed 29 mat Madam Butterfly;  Wed 29 eve Hugh the Drover:  Thu 30 Perfect Fool & Gianni Schicchi;  Fri 31 Siegfried;  Sat 01 mat  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 01 eve Tales of Hoffmann.

Edinburgh, w/c 3 November:  Mon 03 Golden Cockerel;  Tue 04 Pelléas et Mélisande;  Wed 05 mat  Magic Flute;  Wed 05 eve Tannhäuser;  Thu 06 Mastersingers;  Fri 07 Alkestis;  Sat 08 mat  Hugh the Drover;  Sat 08 eve  Aïda.

Glasgow, w/c 10 November:  Mon 10 Carmen;  Tue 11 Mastersingers;  Wed 12 mat Alkestis;  Wed 12 eve  Tales of Hoffmann;  Thu 13 Magic Flute;  Fri 14  Golden Cockerel;  Sat 15 mat Aïda;  Sat 15 eve Marriage of Figaro.

Glasgow, w/c 17 November:  Mon 17 Tales of Hoffmann;  Tue 18 Bohème;  Wed 19 mat  Magic Flute;  Med 19 eve  Aïda;  Thu 20 Eve of St John & Perfect Fool;  Fri 21 Hugh the Drover;  Sat 22 mat Gianni Schicchi  Pagliacci;  Sat 22 eve Tannhäuser.

Glasgow, w/c 24 November:  Mon 24 Marriage of Figaro;  Tue 25  Faust;  Wed 26 mat Golden Cockerel;  Wed 26 eve Magic Flute;  Thu 27 Hugh the Drover;  Fri 28  Carmen;  Sat 29 mat Madam Butterfly;  Sat 29 eve Mastersingers.

Performance Cast

Rinuccio Zita's nephew, aged twenty-four

Tudor Davies (Oct 30)

Gianni Schicchi aged fifty-one

Herbert Langley (Oct 30; Nov 22 m)

Lauretta Schicchi's daughter, aged twenty-one

Leonie Zifado (Oct 30)

Performance DatesGianni Schicchi 1924

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

30 Oct, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

22 Nov, 14.00

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