Opera Scotland

Gianni Schicchi 2023Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Gianni Schicchi

The complete trio of one-act operas by Puccini previously had only a single performance in Scotland.  Sadler's Wells Opera gave it during a two-week stay in Glasgow in 1957.  On that occasion, the company's musical director, young Alexander Gibson, conducted Gianni Schicchi.  Suor Angelica was in the hands of a second Scottish conductor, Marcus Dods.

Since then, Schicchi is the only one to have appeared at the Edinburgh International Festival (with Tito Gobbi in 1969).  English Touring Opera brought Il tabarro and Schicchi to the Perth Festival in 2011.  Opera North presented Il tabarro and Suor Angelica in Edinburgh in 2016.

Glasgow-born Sir David McVicar has thus far directed Puccini's Tosca with great success at the New York Met   His staging of Madama Butterfly was an early success with Scottish Opera in 2000, and has been frequently revived.  He has also done La bohème with Glyndebourne.  These three short works all benefitted from his eye for detail in action and character.  After the rigours of the first two works, the finale provided immediate light relief with a more aggressive update - mediaeval Florence became the 1970s.  Half a century can be a long time in fashion, and such grotesque horrors as the hair styles and, even worse, the trousers, were faithfully reproduced.

The cast assembled was very strong.  Roland Wood, recently seen as Falstaff and Don Giovanni, clearly relished the opportunity to follow his deeply serious reading of Michele with the wonderfully contrasting part of Schicchi, portrayed as quite a seedy character.  As his daughter, the new lyric soprano, Francesca Chiejina, having shown her quality briefly in the first two works, now came into her own, culminating in Lauretta's show-stopping 'Oh, mio babbino caro.'  Elgan Llýr Thomas had only a brief appearance in Il tabarro, but now, as an unusually geeky Rinuccio, was able to show off his lovely lyric tenor, particularly good in his hymn to Florence.

There was a long list of great cameo performers as the grasping relations.  The sepulchral tones of Julian Close made their effect as Simone with Louise Winter's Zita also able to dominate proceedings.  The Gherardo tribe also gained from the designer's work, from dad's wig to the lad's football kit - presumably Fiorentina rather that Juve or Napoli.  Mum's trousers lit up the stage.  It was a particular treat to find veteran Richard Suart putting in a brief appearance as the doctor, never knowingly underplayed.

Scottish Opera clearly gave this presentation a deal of thought.  While there were only five performances, and all those in the central belt, three of them were on a Saturday.  The evenings all began at 6pm, with a thirty minute interval after Il tabarro and a forty minute second break 'for dinner and drinks' before the final comedy.  While largely necessary for the complicated scene changes required, this also allowed a finish soon after ten, a great help for supporters from further afield.

The final performance was beautifully paced by Derek Clark in his final conducting appearance with the company before retirement.  The audience's applause and cheering was justifiably enthusiastic.

Performance Cast

Zita a cousin of Buoso, aged sixty

Louise Winter

Rinuccio Zita's nephew, aged twenty-four

Elgan Llýr Thomas

Gherardo Buoso's nephew, aged forty

Jamie MacDougall

Nella Gherardo's wife, aged thirty-four

Máire Flavin

Gherardino Gherardo's son, aged seven

Liam Keary

Magnus Holden

Betto di Signa a cousin, age unknown

Benjamin Bevan

Simone a cousin, aged seventy

Julian Close

Marco Betto's son, aged forty-five

James Cleverton

La Ciesca Marco's wife, aged thirty-eight

Sioned Gwen Davies

Gianni Schicchi aged fifty-one

Roland Wood

Lauretta Schicchi's daughter, aged twenty-one

Francesca Chiejina

Maestro Spinelloccio a doctor

Richard Suart

Ser Amantio di Nicolao a notary

Timothy Dickinson

Pinellino a cobbler

Douglas Nairne

Guccio a dyer

Toki Hamano

Performance DatesGianni Schicchi 2023

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

11 Mar, 18.00 15 Mar, 18.00 18 Mar, 18.00

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

22 Mar, 18.00 25 Mar, 18.00

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