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
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
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).