A Florentine Tragedy - Gianni Schicchi

The sounds of fin de siècle for a premiere at the Regio

Teatro Regio, Friday, 21st March, 2014 at 20:00

From 21st to 30th March the Teatro Regio offers an unusual diptych: A Florentine Tragedy (Eine Florentinische Tragödie) by Alexander von Zemlinsky (first performance in Turin) and Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini, two one-act operas that will enrich the program of March with outstanding nine performances. On the podium of the Orchestra of the Teatro Regio is Stefan Anton Reck, director recognized worldwide as a specialist in the repertoire of the early twentieth century and a former pupil of masters like Leonard Bernstein, Claudio Abbado and Seiji Ozawa.

A crime of passion and a roguish scam in Renaissance Florence: this is, in a nutshell, the argument of these two operas. The director Vittorio Borrelli, for the setting at the Teatro Regio, imagined two apartments at the beginning of 20th century, exactly the period when both operas was written. There are several different opera singers in these two operas in order to place emphasis on the contrasting vocal aspects that characterize both operas. The deep and seductive voice of the baritone Mark S. Doss will animate the character of Simone in A Florentine Tragedy performing alongside the amazing soprano Ángeles Blancas Gulín and the tenor Zoran Todorovich, applauded for his vocal power and his dramatic presence. In the role of Simone, Doss alternates with Tommi Hakala (performances on 22, 25, 27, 29th March).

The three main characters of Puccini’s opera will instead be played by Italian singers: the baritone Alessandro Corbelli, a reference point of the comic repertoire, plays Gianni Schicchi; the tenor Francesco Meli, recognized for his exquisite technique and versatility, will be Rinuccio; Serena Gamberoni, a soprano of superior voice and strong stage presence, will be the young Lauretta. Rounding out the supporting cast are: Silvia Beltrami (Zita, mezzo-soprano), Luca Casalin (Gherardo, tenor), Maria Radoeva (the soprano), Fabrizio Beggi (Betto, bass), Gabriel Sagona (Simon,bass), Mark Camastra (Marco, baritone), Laura Cherici (Ciesca, mezzo-soprano), Alessandro Busi (Spinelloccio and Amantio, baritone), Ryan Milstead (Pinellino, baritone) and Giuseppe Capoferri (Guccio, baritone). The role entrusted to Marco Sportelli: 22, 25, 27 and 29. In the role of Gianni Schicchi, with Corbelli alternates Carlo Lepore (recitals 22, 25, 27, 29th March). The two productions make use of the support of Italgas, founder of the Theatre.

The one-act operas characterize the musical theatre fin de siècle: it is a genre which at the time was considered very modern and that could bend to the contents and styles, varying from the realism of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, to the expressionism of Strauss’s Salome. Even the Austrian opera composer Zemlinsky chose this form for what would become his most famous opera: A Florentine Tragedy. It was composed in 1916 and performed now for the first time in Turin. The booklet, by Zemlinsky himself, is the German translation of a play by Oscar Wilde, but because Wilde never finished it, it posed many problems to the composer. At the beginning of the tragedy, for example, the love scene between a married woman and her lover was missing, so, to recreate this, the musician wrote symphonic overture depicting the passion between the two characters. Even in other places Zemlinsky filled the gaps purely based on the orchestra. The plot is a strong indictment of conventional bourgeois morality and the music highlights the dark and individualistic impulses of the protagonists. The main theme is the classic ‘love and death’: as explained by Zemlinsky, where “a human life should be sacrificed to save the other two”. The protagonist is Simone, a merchant who returns home after a few weeks of absence, only to find his wife, Bianca, in the company of the Prince Guido Bardi. The trader believed that Guido had come to visit him to buy clothes, but he soon realized that the prince was actually his wife’s lover. Every attempt at dialogue between the two men is in vain: the attempts become more and more violent and the situation is unbearable. When Guido decides to leave, Simone challenges him to a duel. Bianca, exasperated, urges her lover to kill her husband, but eventually, Simone kills Guido. The assassination transformed Simone in the eyes of Bianca, who beside the corpse of her lover, embraces her husband passionately and asked: “Why haven’t you told me that you were so strong?”. So he kissed her replying: “Why haven’t you told me that you were so beautiful?”

Puccini also took into the account the possibility of writing the music for A Florentine Tragedy, but the drama, like many other subjects between 1903 and 1910, was rejected. Puccini was then, a famous musician careful enough to renew his musical theatre and always attentive to the contemporary art scene. So he decided to embark on an ambitious project: to compose a series of three one-act plays creating contradictory atmospheric sounds: thus the Triptych was born. Since its debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1918, the most popular opera of the Triptych was Gianni Schicchi, a comic opera, inspired by an episode of Hell of Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Before then, the musician had never faced the comic genre, despite the fact that there was some sort of humorous caricatures depicted with malice, that same humor was used in Gianni Schicchi to portray a whole gallery of characters. In the booklet, Giovacchino Forzano revives the Medici city thanks to precise historical and topographical, and to make it even more Florentine, he introduced some expressions typically from Tuscany, which stimulated Puccini’s creativity.

The opera is characterized by the almost constant presence of a sort of choir chamber, the relatives of the deceased Buoso Donati, who gathered to pay their respects at the funeral. The hypocritical tears for the demise of the old gentleman break off as soon as it comes to light that he has left all his wealth to charity. Buoso’s grandson, Rinuccio, proposes to seek the advice of a resourceful man, Gianni Schicchi, father of his girlfriend: Lauretta. Upon his arrival, Schicchi hides the body and gets into bed disguised as Buoso. He then summons the notary in order to dictate a new will. The Donati, in turn, tries to bribe Schicchi to get the best property of the deceased but they realize that the man has cheated keeping everything for himself in the new will. Afraid of being convicted as accomplices of deception, the family of Buoso decides to retire without protest. Schicchi has actually acted with good intentions: all his possessions will, one day, belong to his daughter and to her fiancé, Rinuccio.

Thanks to the Amici del Regio, the diptych offers an ongoing promotion restricted to people over 65, who will have the opportunity to purchase tickets at €18 on a first comes first basis. The operas will be presented to the public by the musicologist Luca Scarlini within the loop of the Regio Conferences, at the Piccolo Regio Puccini on Wednesday 19th March at 17:30. Admission is free.

Rai Radio 3 will record the two one-act operas and before the premier two episodes of the opera of Puccini and Zemlinsky, will be broadcast on "Prima della Prima" RAI-3 on 15th April and on 13th May. As usual, you can follow the backstage and discover entertaining curiosity about interpreters and fittings, looking at the Sketch of Passion by Paola Giunti on the site of the Regio www.teatroregio.torino.it and on our channel YouTube.com / TeatroRegioTorino.

From 22nd to 30th March, for the public in possession of a ticket for either operas or a ticket for a guided tour, will be able to visit the exhibition entitled: ‘Architecture: Art Direction and Music’, about the projects of the settings of The Italian Girl in Algiers created by students of Architecture from the Politecnico di Torino.
Ticket office: Piazza Castello 215 - Tel 011.8815.241/242 . Info: tel. 011.8815.557 . Follow the Regio on our social media:

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Torino, 20th March, 2014


Teatro Regio, Direzione Comunicazione e Pubbliche Relazioni
Paola Giunti (Direttore), Paolo Cascio (Relazioni con la Stampa)
Tel: +39 011.8815233/239 - ufficiostampa@teatroregio.torino.it – giunti@teatroregio.torino.it – cascio@teatroregio.torino.it