Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Gianni Schicchi (1918)
Gianni Schicchi - Tito Gobbi
Lauretta - Victoria de los Angeles
Zita - Anna Maria Canali
Rinuccio - Carlo del Monte
Gherrado - Adelio Zagonara
Nella - Lidia Marimpietri
Gherardino - Claudio Cornoldi
Betto di Signa - Saturno Meletti
Simone - Paolo Montarso
Marco - Fernando Valentini
La Ciesca - Giuliana Raymondi
Maestro Spineloccio - Alfredo Mariotti
Amantio di Nicolao
Pinellino - Virgilio Stoco
Guccio - Paolo Caroli
Orchestra of the Rome Opera/Gabriele Santini
rec. Rome, July 1958.
No text or translation. Synopsis provided.
REGIS RRC 1318 [52:58]
For all the quality of some later recordings - notably Antonio Pappano’s 1997 EMI recording of all three of the operas which make up Il trittico - I suspect that few lovers of Puccini - or of Italian opera more generally - would want to be without a copy of this classic recording.
The quality of Giovacchino Forzano’s libretto for this last of the one act operas which make up Il Trittico brought out facets of Puccini not generally heard elsewhere. Forzano’s text - he also wrote the libretto for Suor Angelica as well as libretti for operas by Mascagni, Leoncavallo and Wolf-Ferrari, amongst others - is an assured piece of work, the creation of a vivid imagination prompted by a brief passage in Dante. The text is well-shaped, with a strong sense of theatrical timing, some sharp and colourful characterisation and some amusing dialogue. Seeing or hearing a good performance of Gianni Schicchi makes one wish that Puccini had attempted comedy more often than he did. Certainly, hearing what Tito Gobbi makes of the title role encourages such a wish. Every bit as vocally assured as one would expect from such a great singer, this is a master-class in vocal characterisation. Gianni’s quick-witted and sardonic astuteness and his parental tenderness are alike created rapidly and forcefully. Gobbi makes one believe that both are plausible aspects of the same individual. His routine as the miraculously resurrected Donati is a joy, and is aided by Alfred Mariotti’s splendid grotesque cameo as Maestro Spineloccio. Victoria de los Angeles is a vocally beautiful Lauretta - ‘O mio babbino caro’ is altogether ravishing. Anna Maria Canali is a colourful and persuasive Zita and most of the other minor roles are well sung and ‘acted’, in a fine ensemble performance. Perhaps the only relative weakness is in tenor Carlo Del Monte’s rather disappointing Rinuccio, whose singing is no more than adequate and who does little to make one believe in the character.
The work of the orchestra under Gabriele Santini is totally idiomatic. Santini had a very sure-footed command of the Italian repertoire and he complements his singers very well at every turn here.
The recorded sound - which is mono - shows its age, especially at climaxes, but not so badly as to distract or detract from a fine performance. Given that Santini made his conducting debut as early as 1906 (as assistant conductor to Toscanini) and by 1958 had garnered a wealth of experience throughout the opera houses of Italy, this is understandably a deeply ‘Italian’ performance - and is blessed with some fine singers.
Glyn Pursglove 

A classic recording, which captures the spirit of the opera superbly.