Gianni Schicchi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒanni ˈskikki]) is a comic opera in one act by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Giovacchino Forzano, composed in 1917–18. The libretto is based on an incident mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy. The work is the third and final part of Puccini's Il trittico (The Triptych) — three one-act operas with contrasting themes, originally written to be presented together. Although it continues to be performed with one or both of the other trittico operas, Gianni Schicchi is now more frequently staged either alone or with short operas by other composers. The aria "O mio babbino caro" is one of Puccini's best known, and one of the most popular arias in opera.
Puccini had long considered writing a set of one-act operas which would be performed together in a single evening, but faced with a lack of suitable subjects and opposition from his publisher, he repeatedly put the project aside. However, by 1916 Puccini had completed the one-act tragedy Il tabarro and, after considering various ideas, he began work the following year on the solemn, religious, all-female opera Suor Angelica. Gianni Schicchi, a comedy, completes the triptych with a further contrast of mood. The score combines elements of Puccini's modern style of harmonic dissonance with lyrical passages reminiscent of Rossini, and it has been praised for its inventiveness and imagination.
When Il trittico premiered at New York's Metropolitan Opera in December 1918, Gianni Schicchi became an immediate hit, whereas the other two operas were received with less enthusiasm. This pattern was broadly repeated at the Rome and London premieres and led to commercial pressures to abandon the less successful elements. Although on artistic grounds Puccini opposed performing the three operas except as the original triptych, by 1920 he had given his reluctant consent to separate performances. Gianni Schicchi has subsequently become the most-performed part of Il trittico and has been widely recorded.
Production conductor: Eugene Khokhlov. Production director: Nadezhda Bakhshieva (Moscow). Production designer: Vasilisa Kutuzova (Moscow).
SYNOPSIS Buoso Donati, a rich Florentine, has died. His distant (and poor) relatives gather at his deathbed: his cousins Zita and Simone with their families, his brother-in-law Betto, his nephew Gherardo with his wife Nella and their son. Betto retells them a rumour of Buoso having left his fortune to a monastery. The entire clan searches for Buoso’s will. It’s found by Rinucccio, Zita’s nephew. Rinuccio hopes he has inherited money will allow him to marry Lauretta, daughter of Gianni Schicchi. He sends Gherardo to fetch the Schicchis. But it turns out that the rumour was true: the Donatis are disinherited. No one sees a way out. Rinuccio suggests to turn to Gianni Schicchi for help, but the family are prejudiced against that rural upstart. Rinuccio delivers a passionate speech, and eventually Gianni arrives with Lauretta. Zita tries to get rid of them, while Rinuccio and Lauretta mourn their hope to be together. At last Rinuccio does ask Gianni Schicchi for help, and, moved by Lauretta’s plea, he agrees.
None but the family is aware of Buoso’s death yet, so Gianni Schicchi’s plan is to get disguised as the deceased. He passes as Buoso Donati when doctor Spinelloccio comes to visit his patient. He then orders to summon the notary to make a different will, reminding that the penalty for complicity in a fraud is grave. The Donatis request what each of them should inherit. Everyone wants the best part, Buoso’s house and business, for themselves and tries to bribe Gianni in secret. Gianni promises to fulfil their wishes.
The notary arrives with two witnesses, Pinellino and Guccio. They all take Gianni for Buoso, and he dictates the new will. Signore Buoso Donati leaves his house and his business… to his dear friend Gianni Schicchi. When the notary leaves, Gianni drives everyone except Lauretta and Rinuccio away, for now this is his property. Lauretta and Rinuccio are happy, and Gianni thinks there could hardly have been a better use for Buoso’s money.
Giacomo Puccini Librettist Giovacchino Forzano. Based on Dante's Divine Comedy. Premiere 14 December 1918, Metropolitan Opera.