June 20, 2021

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GIANNI SCHICCHI at Opera Theatre Saint Louis

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BWW Review: GIANNI SCHICCHI at Opera Theatre Saint Louis

The wonderful Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opened it really is competition time final night with a sheer delight: Puccini’s delectable just one-act comedy, Gianni Schicchi.

Certainly, soon after a terrible yr of quarantine this earth-course business has burst the chains of Zoom and streaming to present a real stay on-phase effectiveness.

My congratulations to all in every single place of the company for the actually heroic efforts that should have been expected to make this evening so charming, so cozy, and so artistically satisfying–specified the health and fitness strictures however essential by community authorities and by performers’ contracts. They have manufactured an exterior theatre on what was a parking great deal. It is, of course, scaled-down and fewer lush than their regular location, but it is fairly serviceable. Pre-clearly show picnicking on the grounds is readily available as usual-though tables are more sparsely spaced.

For months prior to, I am sure, the numerous individuals involved in this generation–and their loving patrons–experienced been creating choices to the gods of temperature to ward off inclemency. Properly, these gods smiled and laid out for us a attractive dove-comfortable night.

Gianni Schicchi is in a person act-about an hour extended. It really is part of the composer’s Trittico (tryptich) of quick operas reflecting three contrasting modes-tragic, lyrical, and comic. Opera Theatre developed the tragic Il Tabarro in 2018 Wintertime opera gave us the lyrical Suor Angelica just this March now we have the decidedly farcical Schicchi to complete the set.

It begins with a bang. The excellent Leonard Slatkin potential customers a tranche of the St. Louis Symphony into the energetic, even busy new music of the opening scene in which a big Florentine household hovers at the death-bed of their rich patriarch, Buoso Donati. This sort of moaning, these kinds of wailing, these kinds of grief! But this is nothing compared to the howling that takes place when, soon after Buoso dies, his will is uncovered and (Oh, the outrage!) he has left almost every thing to the friars!!

Now, younger Rinuccio is a great deal a lot more worried with adore than with inheritance. He is desperate to marry the pretty Lauretta, but his mothers and fathers disapprove. Lauretta is the daughter of the nouveau-riche Gianni Schicchi, and hence socially beneath the aged-dollars Donatis. But Schicchi is recognised for his craftiness, and Rinuccio indicates that the relatives solicit his assistance with the trouble of the will.

Schicchi is summoned and he promptly presents this resolution: they ought to take away the human body, and he, Schicchi, will impersonate the dying Buoso. He’ll dictate a new will to the likings of the surviving loved ones. But . . . if anybody finds out they’ll all have their fingers slice off, and they’re going to be exiled for good from Florence! And of system Schicchi leaves the extremely ideal of every little thing–the mansion, the sawmills at Signa and the fabulously worthwhile mule–to himself.

It truly is all a very lively farce. And it’s loaded with a wonderfully numerous assortment of attractive Puccini audio-from spritely scampering to warmly lyrical to passages wealthy in intertwined musical voices. There is a person monumentally memorable aria-“Oh, my expensive Papa” (“O mio babbino caro”)-in which Lauretta pleads for her father’s aid in marrying Rinuccio this is soaring, stunning, lyrical Puccini at his most chic, and Elena Villalón so quickly tends to make it hers. Joshua Blue provides his robust, bell-apparent tenor voice and admirable diction to the function of Rinuccio. He joins Miss out on Villalón to make their enjoy duet at the conclude one more extremely unforgettable high-place of the night.

The job of Gianni Schicchi is sung by baritone Levi Hernandez. I final observed him four yrs back in Opera Theatre’s The Grapes of Wrath where he sang a powerfully remarkable Pa Joad. Chat about a transform of tempo! Hernandez sings with a sturdy and prosperous baritone, and with a wonderful sense of comedy. He ludicrously transforms his voice into that of the dying “Buoso”.

Two other users of the large cast should have special praise: Nathan Stark has pretty putting basso energy in the function of Simone, the eldest of the Donatis. And Evan Landowski, as the Notary, triumphs in a passage stuffed with Latin gobbledygook.

Phase director Sean Curran deftly manages all these individuals on this fairly little phase. Set designer Allen Moyer gives us a richly in depth Florentine mattress-chamber. Projection designer Greg Emetz gives us wonderful views of Florence by the window.

I have only just one quibble with this creation. The story of this opera is taken from a character in Dante’s Inferno. The libretto sets it in the 12 months 1299. James Schuette‘s costumes feel to transpose the tale into the 1930’s. Now there are various characters who are shut approximations of regular Commedia characters: Schicchi himself is quite like Harlequin Lauretta is as near as dammit to the Innamorata (or Columbina) the Health care provider is, very well, Il Dottore, and Simone, the elder, is not that considerably from Pantalone. Then there is the final moment wherever Schicchi breaks the fourth wall to make an apologia to the audience: “Forgive us our trickery. It was all in a excellent cause.” It truly is so very like Puck’s remaining speech in Midsummer Night’s Desire. So the entire tone of the piece is much additional comfy in the early Renaissance, when Florence was a impressive town-state expanding in self-conscious grandeur. Shade! Tights! Flowing skirts! The world in the 1930’s was a great deal a lot more drably dressed. And we know what Italy was in the ’30’s–it was Mussolini. I will gladly forgive the time-switch if it was owing to useful resource constraints–but not if it was an inventive choice.

All in all, while, it was a marvellously successful night. The period at Opera Theatre of St. Louis carries on with:

  • Gianni Schicchi – May perhaps 28, June 2, 6, 11
  • Freeway 1, U.S.A. – Could 29, June 4, 13, 17
  • La voix humaine – June 5, 14, 20
  • New Works, Bold Voices – June 10, 12, 16, 18
  • I Aspiration a Environment – June 15
  • Center Phase – June 19

Pics by Eric Woolsey

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