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Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Gianni Schicchi (1918).
Giuseppe Taddei (baritone) Gianni Schicchi; Grete Rapisardi (soprano) Lauretta; Agnese Dubbini (mezzo) Zita; Giuseppe Savio (tenor) Rinuccio; Gino Del Signore (tenor) Gherardo; Renza Ferrari (soprano) Nella; Pier Luigi Latinucci (bass) Betto di Signa; Fernando Corena (bass) Simone; Alberto Albertini (baritone) Marco; Liana Avogadro (mezzo) La Ciesca; Franco Calabrese (bass) Maestro Spinelloccio, Ser Amantio di Nicolao;
Orchestra Lirica di Torino della Radiotelevisione Italiana/Alfredo Simonetto.
Rec. Turin, Italy, in 1949. ADD mono
WARNER FONIT 5050467-1048-2-2 [53’22]


If you need Trittico complete, go for the EMI set (with Schicchi under the baton of Gabriele Santini and Gobbi as the gentleman of the title) on 764165-2. But as a single-issue Schicchi you could do far worse than this ultra-cheap Warner Fonit issue (perhaps the Orfeo, with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, I reviewed almost exactly four years ago should be there on your shelf also – but do bear in mind it is sung in German). There is no denying there is something of the stage about this recording; a quality that this, of all operas, needs. The pace needs to crack along at times, and there must be almost tangible hustle-bustle. Welcome to the world of Alfredo Simonetto.

Not the most promising of starts to the disc, though, with distortion present. Bear in mind it is not representative of the performance as a whole. Pacing is excellent from Simonetto and the producer has ensured we get some stagey groans just to get the feel of the theatre. Structurally, Simonetto is totally in control, ensuring the ending is not only a happy one but glows also.

Of course it helps having the great Giuseppe Taddei in the title role. His voice is marvellously focused; his nasal imitation of Buoso Donati towards the end is hilarious. This was actually the first ever recording of Gianni Schicchi. Tito Gobbi was to follow in the not too distant future, of course, but Taddei demands to be heard.

Lauretta (Grete Rapisardi) is alas one of the weaker members of the cast. Her big moment (‘O Mio babbino caro’) lacks vocal projection. A pity, since Simonetto’s non-indulgent tempo (perfectly natural in the context of the action – how this section is milked when surgically extracted!) is spot on.

Fernando Corena is a strong Simone (try ‘Dunque era vero’, track 2). Liana Avogadro is a characterful La Ciesca. As Zita, Agnese Dubbini is a nicely coquettish mezzo Zita, eminently creative with her part but with a tendency towards the shrill at times. Giuseppe Savio is an attractive Rinuccio (his ‘Firenze è come un albero fiorito’ is strong and italianate).

Diction from almost every party is excellent (try Calabrese’s Spinelloccio for one example).

This Gianni Schicchi is a joy and should be savoured as an illustration not only of Puccini’s lighter side but also for true italianate excellence of execution. I even love the reproduction of the original Cetra box on the back of the booklet (a detail of this furnished the background for the disc’s cover).

Strongly recommended.

Colin Clarke

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