Comic opera in one act, in Hungarian, with Hungarian and English surtitlesWe can safely say that Gianni Schicchi is one of the most entertaining comic works of opera literature, which stands out even in the opera oeuvre of Giacomo Puccini with its wittiness. Ingenious moments chase one another both in the vocal and orchestral parts, and also through the text and the incredibly funny situations. Not many works dare to apply the black, nay morbid humour that allows the comical family intrigues enfold right next to the deathbed of a relative.
Premiere: Dec. 7, 2022
The body of the recently deceased wealthy nobleman Buoso Donati lies on the deathbed surrounded by relatives there to angle for his inheritance. They have good reason to worry, and not just because they are a big family: there are rumours going around a northern village, Signa, that Buoso has left his entire estate to a monastery. They turn over the entire house in search of his will. The document is found at last by the young Rinuccio, who makes his Aunt Zita promise him that if there is enough money for the family, he can marry his love, Lauretta. As it turns out, the gossip is true: Buoso Donati has left all of his money to the monks. Rinuccio counsels the despairing relations to seek the help of Lauretta's father, Gianni Schicchi, the low-born man who has nevertheless prospered from his own wits. Schicchi arrives with his daughter. Meeting, however, with arrogance, disdain and antipathy from the noble family, he is about to depart when his daughter speaks directly to his heart: she will die if she can't marry Rinuccio! Schicchi agrees to the game to please Laura. Suddenly Doctor Spinelloccio knocks on the door: he is there to examine the extremely ill Donati. Imitating the deceased Buoso, Schicchi assures the doctor that he is better now. Schicchi sends the relatives to summon the notary, and then wearing Donati's clothes proceeds to dictate his final will and testament. The relatives each try to bribe Schicchi to favour them over the other relatives when it comes to the best of the inheritance: the mule, the Donati residence in Florence, and the mill in Signa and Schicchi nods at each of them, reminding them separately that they must forever remain silent about the ruse, or they'll be punished by the law for fraud. The notary arrives with two witnesses, and Schicchi dictates his will, but to everyone's mute astonishment, leaves the mule, Donati's house, and the mill to himself, Gianni Schicchi! The family rages, but they cannot say a word lest the deception be discovered. When the notary departs, they furiously steal what they can, but Schicchi ejects them from the house and looks touched at the happy couple, Rinuccio and Lauretta.