The third of Puccini’s three one act operas Gianni Schicchi was immediately recognized as a masterpiece unlike its two sibling which took longer to have their genius acknowledged. The only comparable opera is Verdi’s Falstaff. Schicchi moves like quicksilver through the 50+ minutes it takes to perform. The only pause is for ‘O mio babbino caro’ which is worth a brief respite as it’s a billion dollar tune.
The opera combines melodic invention, constant forward motion, sharp humor, with harmonic dissonance that blends with the unique melodies that surround it. Its brilliant depiction of medieval Florence along with its instant musical characterization of it supporting characters make it a wonder. As I’ve previously remarked, Puccini’s limitations as a composer are all self imposed. Schicchi shows that Puccini could have done anything on the musical stage that he wished to do. Dead 90 years the critics are still trying to catch up with his audience which has always realized his true worth, though even they are still raising his standing among composers.
The 1962 recording linked below feature Renata Tebaldi and Fernando Corena in the title role. Lamberto Gardelli conducts a spirited rendition of this marvelous comic opera. The sound is on the sepulchral side, but listenable.
Gianni Schicchi: Fernando Corena
Lauretta: Renata Tebaldi
Zita: Lucia Danieli
Rinuccio: Agostino Lazzari
Gherardo: Renato Ercolani
Nella: Dora Carral
Gherardino: Antoine de Ninno
Betto di Signa: Giovanni Foiani
Simone: Paolo Washington
Marco: Silvio Maionica
Ciesca: Miti Truccato Pace
Spinelloccio: Giuseppe Morresi
Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Dirigent: Lamberto Gardelli