Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Gianni Schicchi (sung in
(baritone) Gianni Schicchi; Elke Schary (mezzo) Lauretta; Martha Mödl
(mezzo) Zita, 'La Vecchia'; Claes-Hakan Ahnsjö (tenor) Rinuccio; David
Thaw (tenor) Gherardo; Antonie Fahberg (soprano) Nella; Gerhard Auer (bass)
Betto von Signa; Kieth Engen (bass) Simon; Raimund Grumbach (bass) Marco;
Gudrun Wewezow (mezzo) La Ciesca; Bavarian Staet Opera Chorus and
Orfeo C546001B [ADD]
How refreshing it is to see this bustling comic opera available on its own
(shorn of Suor Angelica and Il Tabarro, its two companions
of Il Trittico) with a cast that works together as a real ensemble
and a conductor of real insight. Heard in isolation, one can focus on its
sparking inventiveness and wit. Purists be warned, however: the performance
is sung in German, and so linguistically some of the brightness of the Italian
original is lost. To compensate for this is the visceral feeling that only
a live stage performance can bring (it was recorded on December 7th, 1973).
Sawallisch seems completely at home in this music. The bustling, opera
buffa opening sets the atmosphere perfectly and the orchestra's contributions
are pointed and alive throughout. Fischer-Dieskau in the cheeky titular part
seems remarkably good at comedy, enlivening his part by using the myriad
of tones and effects at his personal disposal. This is particularly effective
both when he outlines his plan to fake the will and at the conclusion of
the opera, when the vocal line almost becomes Sprechgesang.
Elke Schary as Lauretta gives a flowing, dramatically apt account of O
mio babbino caro (here, O du mein lieber Vater). Heard in context,
one wonders at the audacity of so many singers who succumb to a degenerating
indulgence at this point. Claes-Hakan Ahnsjö's Firenze è come
un albero fiorito (Florenz ist einem Baume zu vergleichen) is
robust and acts as the perfect foil to Lauretta's big aria.
Well worth the outlay. This disc can only bring pleasure, and our thanks
must go to Orfeo for their ongoing services to opera on disc.