Giacomo Puccini completed his comic opera Gianni Schicchi in 1918. The scene is set in Florence in 1299. Buoso Donati, a rich old man, is on his deathbed and wants to leave all his money to the local monastery.
The heirs want to take possession of Buoso’s property by dishonest action and call for help Gianni Schicchi, whose daughter, Lauretta, is engaged to the rich man’s nephew. Disguised as Buoso, the cheat Schicchi forges the will in his own favour and gives his blessing to his daughter’s marriage.
Gennady Shaposhnikov, director of the Gianni Schicchi production:
Imagine two young loving people (Rinuccio and Lauretta),who are sincere, pure and unselfish. But their milieu is their polarity. They are greedy, unscrupulous people, seeking to lay hands on the property of their rich relative, Buoso. Thus, there are two poles in the story, with love on the one pole and spiritual death on the other. This subject can be interpreted as drama or tragedy. In our case the vice will be punished jocularly — a cheat outwits other cheats. But the opera is not about how to cheat more cleverly. Gianni Schicchi got involved in sharing out the money only because he wanted to punish greed and to help love. So, when people ask me what this opera is about, I always answer that it is about unmercenary love.
This production was given a Special Award from the musical theatre jury of the Golden Mask national theatrical prize of the 2009/2010 season.
This premiere was produced entirely by the theatre’s own efforts. The only guest person here was Gennady Shaposhnikov, the stage director of Gianni Schicchi and a debutant in opera production. The debutant, however, managed to dowhat more experienced producers do not always do. He created a performance in which the modern form heightens the comic plot, and the stage movement does not suppress the music, evolving in full accordance with its character and rather difficult rhythm. At thesame time each performer is involved in the unfettered play, which paradoxically helps perform most difficult vocal ensembles instead of impeding the singing.
The Kultura newspaper,
5–11 February 2009
The performance about a forged will of a dead miser is so funny that sometimes the audience’s laughter drownsthe singing. Neither the transfer of the action from the 18th to the 21st century, nor the “typical Italian” fuss and colorfulness on the stage do not hinder the performers frombrilliantly singing their parts.
Novaya Gazeta, Issue 18,
20 February 2009
The more than overstated grotesque of the production is,however,vested in a very stylish modern stage cloak and wears dashing costumes, deliberately exaggerating medieval commedia dell’arte (set and costume designer Viktor Gerasimenko).
Issue 3, 2009