[Met Performance] CID:114350
Gianni Schicchi {21}
Salome {3}
Metropolitan Opera House: 01/19/1934.

(Debut: Frank Castino
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 19, 1934


GIANNI SCHICCHI {21}
Puccini-Forzano

Gianni Schicchi.........Giuseppe De Luca
Lauretta................Editha Fleischer
Rinuccio................Nino Martini
Nella...................Lillian Clark
Ciesca..................Elda Vettori
Zita....................Ina Bourskaya
Gherardo................Giordano Paltrinieri
Betto...................Paolo Ananian
Marco...................Louis D'Angelo
Simone..................Ezio Pinza
Gherardino..............Frank Castino [Debut]
Spinelloccio............Pompilio Malatesta
Amantio.................Alfredo Gandolfi
Pinellino...............James Wolfe
Guccio..................Arnold Gabor

Conductor...............Vincenzo Bellezza

Director................Armando Agnini
Set designer............Joseph Novak

Gianni Schicch received six performances this season.

Review of Oscar Thompson in the January 25, 1924 issue of Musical America

Rascality of Gianni Schicchi Amuses at Revival

When "Gianni Schicchi" was last unhinged from its two companion portraits of the Puccini "Trittico," "Il Tabarro" and "Suor Angelica," it was remarked that Laughing Stock, preferred, had risen a few points on the operatic market. That was in February 1926, well before the crash that left many operatic patrons wondering what had happened to their risibles.

Now, after four seasons in the storehouse, the picaresque farce of Florentine rascality has returned to the active repertoire at the Metropolitan and has been found quite as amusing as it was when last sung there, on April 7, 1928; or, for that matter, as when it was given its world premiere at the Gattian temple on Dec. 14, 1918. Smiles, chuckles, snickers and titters, with here and there a frank guffaw, greeted the resumption of the adroit little lyric comedy on Friday evening, Jan. 19. Grotesquely enough, it served as a curtain-raiser, perhaps even as an appetizer, for the chief undertaking of the evening, the much weightier "Salome" of Richard Strauss, given its second performance of the current season and its third in the history of the Metropolitan.

Adequately cast and ably directed, the revival of "Gianni Schicchi" possessed little to distinguish it from the numerous earlier performances of past seasons. Giuseppe De Luca, the only Schicchi the Metropolitan has known, again drenched the title role with the unction of his mellow and reposeful art, coloring his singing with rare skill and employing an easy parlando with delectable drollery. Among operatic baritones of the day, he remains the Farceur par excellence.

New Singers in Ensemble

Though new to the roles of the lovers, Lauretta and Rinuccio, Editha Fleischer and Nino Martini gave finished performances, Miss Fleischer achieving the usual success with the rather cheap tune of "O Mio Babbino" and Mr. Martini disposing neatly of his tribute to Schicchi and his part in the melodious ducts. Ezio Pinza succeeded to the secondary role of Simone and gave it the benefit of his exceptional voice and his skill in characterization. There were other changes in the ensemble, Lillian Clark and Elda Vettori participating in it for the first time.

With Vincenzo Bellezza conducting and Armando Agnini in charge of the stage a very satisfactory level of competence was maintained. Some small regret could be harbored because of the tendency here, as in other operas that are best heard in more intimate surroundings, to broaden the comedy and make cartoons of the stage personages. In sonic respects, the recent Julliard performance, in English and in a small theatre, was nearer the desired spirit, though of no such expertness of ensemble. The old mountings were found still serviceable after their years of alternate service and neglect. The little opera had animation, point and propulsion and was given a final fillip by Mr. De Luca's delivery of its spoken epilogue in flavorous English.

Success Due Chiefly to Book

The reviewer is not one of those who can regard "Gianni Schicchi" as a comic masterpiece or even top-notch Puccini. The book is a capital one. What might not a Mozart or a Rossini have done with the mischievous tale that Gioachino Forzino fashioned into so delightful a libretto for Puccini! The hypocritical relatives mourning about the bed of the deceased Donato, their despair over the discovery that he had not provided for them in a will, the decision to summon Schicchi as the one man likely to find a way to satisfy their greed, Schicchi's impersonation of the dying Donato in the very bed from which the corpse has been hurriedly removed to enable him to take its place, and his dictation of a will by which all the treasures of Donato are left, not to Donato's relatives, but to Donato's friend, Gianni Schicchi, these are comedy pictures to rejoice the composer with a kindred spark of the farcical in his veins.

But Puccini's gift was for the sentimental, not the comic. It was not his artistry that failed him in "Gianni Schicchi," since this score, technically, is as admirable as any he penned. Indeed, the workmanship is invariably better than the substance. In most respects the writing is closer to that of Verdi's Falstaff than it is to the old buffo style that the text would seem to invite. "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 whip-crack of Verdi, and his comedy, in spite of the rapidity of its gait, is lacking also in Rossinian lightness. What one misses most is drollery in the orchestration - the drollery that Mozart's cavorting bassoons make irresistible in a work like "Cosi Fan Tutte." Over and over, the amusing utterances of the characters are supported by lushly sentimental scoring that would have been more suitable for "La BohŔme." As ever with Puccini, the words are deftly set and the vocal phrases have the most skillful inflection. But the orchestra lacks sting. As an earnest effort to escape the artistic limitations of "BohŔme." "Tosca" and "Butterfly," "Gianni Schicchi" adds something to the stature of the composer. But it is the fun of his libretto, chiefly, that keeps his work alive.





SALOME {3}

Salome..................G÷ta Ljungberg
Herod...................Max Lorenz
Herodias................Dorothee Manski
Jochanaan...............Friedrich Schorr
Narraboth...............Hans Clemens
Page....................Doris Doe
Jew.....................Marek Windheim
Jew.....................Giordano Paltrinieri
Jew.....................Angelo BadÓ
Jew.....................Max Altglass
Jew.....................James Wolfe
Nazarene................Emanuel List
Nazarene................Hans Clemens
Soldier.................Louis D'Angelo
Soldier.................Arnold Gabor
Cappadocian.............Alfredo Gandolfi
Slave...................Helen Gleason

Conductor...............Artur Bodanzky



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