[Met Performance] CID:92280

New production (Gianna Schicchi)

Gianni Schicchi
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, February 6, 1926 Matinee

Debut : Stefan Eisler

Gianni Schicchi received four performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Oscar Thompson in Musical America


Comic Portrait of Triptych Restored to Metropolitan with Some of Original Singers of Its World Premiere-Performance Is Lively One and Proves Highly Amusing in Its Broad Comedy Situations-De Luca and Florence Easton Head Cast, as They Did in 1918-Papi Is Conductor

Laughing stock, preferred, rose a few points in the operatic market last Saturday afternoon, because of the return of "Gianni Schicchi." That picaresque comedy re-entered the Metropolitan in company with the ever-present "Pagliacci," without which the catalogue of lyric crimes would be singularly incomplete. Neatly unhinged from "II Tabarro" and "Suor Angelica," the humorous member of the Puccini 'Trittico' swaggered in its newfound independence at the first representation it has had in New York in five seasons. In the cast were Giuseppe de Luca and Florence Easton, two of the singers who created its more important roles at its world premiere in this opera house on Dec. 14, 1918, and six of those who were then concerned with lesser parts.

The revival clearly reached the spot at which it was aimed-the funny bone; and there was a polite undercurrent of chuckling and mild laughter almost from the parting of the curtains on the grotesque scene of mourning with which the comedy begins. Whether this appeal to the risibles will alone suffice to establish it in high favor, in spite of the rather negligible appeal of its music, is for the ensuing weeks to determine. In "Gianni Schicchi" the comedy undoubtedly is the thing. The rapidity of its movement, the economy and directness of its utterance, all tend to heighten its hilarity, and at the same time to minimize opportunity for Puccini's own best brand of full-blooded sentimental lyricism.

Exacting listeners may resent the rather cheap tune of "O mio babbino" (sung on this occasion with the same silvery chime that Mme. Easton gave to it in its earlier performances), but it undoubtedly provides just the moment of lyricism for which famished ears, up to that point, are kept waiting. Not that the score is otherwise unmelodic; Puccini's melodic hallmarks are everywhere recognizable. But quality of workmanship, for the nonce, seems to be of so much more immediate concern, in dealing with the jocund situations, that melodic statement becomes subsidiary.

Puccini plainly endeavored to employ the "Falstaff" technic of Giuseppe Verdi. "Gianni Schicchi" has many points in common with the scene in the home of Mistress Ford, even to the duet of the lovers while the world about them rages. But Puccini had not the whipcrack of Verdi, and "Gianni Schicchi," in spite of the rapidity of its gait, is lacking also in Rossinian lightness. The libretto is very droll reading. The action is equally droll to see. The music does not greatly enhance this drollery, if, indeed, the comedy would be any less intriguing with no music at all. Yet, as an earnest effort to escape the artistic limitations of "Boh?me," "Tosca" and "Butterfly," it must be said that "Gianni Schicchi" adds something to the stature of its composer.

The story, as to be found now in various opera digests, relates how Schicchi impersonates the departed Buoso Donati, and from the latter's deathbed dictates his last will and testament. Greedy relatives have conspired with him in this fraud, each hoping for the mule, the sawmill and the town palace of the deceased-all of which Schicchi proceeds to will to himself. The slender love thread has to do with Schicchi's daughter Lauretta and young Rinuccio, one of Buoso's surviving relatives, who may not wed until Lauretta has a dowry. This, of course, Schicchi's disposal of the dead man's effects provides. It is a tale easily made visual and its humorous possibilities are not difficult to realize.

Besides Mr. De Luca and Miss Easton, Mme. Howard and Messrs. D'Angelo, Ananian, Didur, Reschiglian and Malatesta were members of the 1918 cast, with Roberto Moranzoni as conductor. As a farceur, de Luca has no superior in the company. He sang delightfully and drenched Schicchi with a delectable unction. Rothier, Bada, Didur and Ananian also contributed something definite to the comedy, particularly the first two. Miss Easton, a Lauretta somewhat more mature than before, sang with no little charm; Lauri-Volpi, as her lover, with something of an excess of vigor. Conductor Papi kept the score moving with more than customary briskness, and Wilhelm von Wymetal's skilled hand was evident in the staging. The new setting by Novak was all it should have been.

"Pagliacci" had a rather perfunctory performance, with Giuseppe Bamboschek at the helm. The fault lay largely with Vittorio Fullin's commonplace Canio. There was the usual applause for Giuseppe Danise's high-noted "Prologo," and some very good singing by Lucrezia Bori and Lawrence Tibbett in the Silvio-Nedda love scene. Giordano Paltrinieri was Beppe, and did nicely with the offstage Serenade.

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