Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Gianni Schicchi (sung in German).
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (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 Orchestra/Wolfgang Sawallisch.
Orfeo C546001B [ADD] [52'49]

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.


Colin Clarke



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