Gianni Schicchi / L'heure espagnole
Teatro dell’Opera di Roma presents a delightful combo of one-act comedy operas: Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini and L’heure espagnole by Maurice Ravel. These wildly entertaining works, originating from the early 20th century, both tackle the topics of deception from a hilarious musical and storytelling angle. The two have gained their fame in their own right, but it is not too common to see them performed side by side, making the performance at Teatro Costanzi this season all the more exciting.
Gianni Schicchi, composed by Giacomo Puccini, is the last part of his Il Trittico, a triptych of one-act operas. The collection made its debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on 14 December 1918. Standing out as the sole comedy within the trio, Gianni Schicchi immediately captivated audiences. Arias such as 'O mio babbino caro' became beloved concert favourites. The libretto, crafted by Giovacchino Forzano, drew inspiration from Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. The story unfolds in late Medieval Florence. Local nobleman, Buoso Donati has just died, and relatives have gathered to mourn him but also to find out to whom he has left his considerable fortune. To their dismay, they discover that Buoso has disinherited them. Desperate for guidance and assistance, the family turns to Gianni Schicchi. Recognizing that Buoso's death has not been officially announced yet, Schicchi takes on the guise of the deceased. Yet his intentions are far from selfless.
The second part of the programme features L’heure espagnole by Maurice Ravel, a rare opera endeavour by the French composer. The Opéra-Comique premiered this work at the Salle Favart in Paris on 19 May 1911. The libretto, penned by Franc-Nohain, is an adaptation of his play bearing the same name, which translates to 'The Spanish Time'. The narrative revolves around the clockmaker Torquemada and his unfaithful wife, Concepción, who orchestrates multiple rendezvous with her lovers while her husband attends to his tasks around town. The lovers find themselves concealed within various large clocks as an unsuspecting muleteer carries them up and down the stairs. The adulterous wife is unfazed by the mayhem and even starts developing a new romance as the minutes tick away.
At Teatro Costanzi in Rome, the double bill of Gianni Schicchi and L’heure espagnole promises an evening filled with laughter, plot twists and lively music to boot.