A family defrauds their dead relative out of his estate. A daughter uses some serious emotional black mail to get what she wants.
Buoso Donati has just died, surrounded by his relatives, who have heard that he has left all his money to the monks. They search for the will and Rinuccio, who finds it, refuses to hand it over till his Aunt Zita promises to let him marry Lauretta, daughter of Gianni Schicchi. He sends for Schicchi and when they have read the will and found their fears to be true, tells them that only Schicchi has the ingenuity to save them.
Although they resent Schicchi as an upstart, when he arrives with Lauretta they beg him to help them. Resenting their attitude, he only agrees when Lauretta appeals to him, since her happiness depends on it. Since no one outside the family knows that Buoso is dead, Schicchi disguises himself as Buoso, summons a lawyer and dictates a will. The relatives all have particular properties in mind and he leaves each one as requested, but reserves for himself the prize items of the house, a mule and the mill at Signa.
The furious relatives are powerless to stop him, as he reminds them that the penalty for falsifying a will is having the right hand chopped off and banishment from Florence.
He chases them away, except for Rinuccio, who remains with Lauretta. Schicchi addresses the audience, begging its indulgence for his sins since it has produced such a happy result.
Opera in one act
Sung in Italian
About 1 hour
Florence year 1299
As Buoso Donati lies dead in his curtained four-poster bed, his relatives gather round to mourn his passing, but are really more interested in learning the contents of his will. Among those present are his cousins Zita and Simone, his poor-relation brother-in-law Betto, and Zita's nephew Rinuccio. Betto mentions a rumour he has heard that Buoso has left everything to a monastery; this disturbs the others and precipitates a frantic search for the will. The document is found by Rinuccio, who is confident that his uncle has left him plenty of money. He withholds the will momentarily and asks Zita to allow him to marry Lauretta, daughter of Gianni Schicchi, a newcomer to Florence. Zita replies that if Buoso has left them rich, he can marry whom he pleases; she and the other relatives are anxious to begin reading the will. A happy Rinuccio sends little Gherardino to fetch Schicchi and Lauretta.
As they read, the relatives' worst fears are soon realised; Buoso has indeed bequeathed his fortune to the monastery. They break out in woe and indignation and turn to Simone, the oldest present and a former mayor of Fucecchio, but he can offer no help. Rinuccio suggests that only Gianni Schicchi can advise them what to do, but this is scorned by Zita and the rest, who sneer at Schicchi's humble origins and now say that marriage to the daughter of such a peasant is out of the question. Rinuccio defends Schicchi in an aria "Avete torto" (You're mistaken), after which Schicchi and Lauretta arrive. Schicchi quickly grasps the situation, and Rinuccio begs him for help, but Schicchi is rudely told by Zita to "be off" and take his daughter with him. Rinuccio and Lauretta listen in despair as Schicchi announces that he will have nothing to do with such people. Lauretta makes a final plea to him with "O mio babbino caro" (Oh, my dear papa), and he agrees to look at the will. After twice scrutinizing it and concluding that nothing can be done, an idea occurs to him. He sends his daughter outside so that she will be innocent of what is to follow.
The relatives listen to the reading of the will. From the original Metropolitan Opera production.
First, Schicchi establishes that no one other than those present knows that Buoso is dead. He then orders the body removed to another room. A knock announces the arrival of the doctor, Spinelloccio. Schicchi conceals himself behind the bed curtains, mimics Buoso's voice and declares that he's feeling better; he asks the doctor to return that evening. Boasting that he has never lost a patient, Spinelloccio departs. Schicchi then unveils his plan in the aria "Si corre dal notaio" (Run to the notary); having established in the doctor's mind that Buoso is still alive, Schicchi will disguise himself as Buoso and dictate a new will. All are delighted with the scheme, and importune Schicchi with personal requests for Buoso's various possessions, the most treasured of which are "the mule, the house and the mills at Signa". A funeral bell rings, and everyone fears that the news of Buoso's death has emerged, but it turns out that the bell is tolling for the death of a neighbour's Moorish servant. The relatives agree to leave the disposition of the mule, the house and the mills to Schicchi, though each in turn offers him a bribe. The women help him to change into Buoso's clothes as they sing the lyrical trio "Spogliati, bambolino" (Undress, little boy). Before taking his place in the bed, Schicchi warns the company of the grave punishment for those found to have falsified a will: exile from Florence together with the loss of a hand.
The notary arrives, and Schicchi starts to dictate the new will, declaring any prior will null and void. To general satisfaction he allocates the minor bequests, but when it comes to the mule, the house and the mills, he orders that these be left to "my devoted friend Gianni Schicchi". Incredulous, the family can do nothing while the lawyer is present, especially when Schicchi slyly reminds them of the penalties that discovery of the ruse will bring. Their outrage when the notary leaves is accompanied by a frenzy of looting as Schicchi chases them out of what is now his house.
Meanwhile, Lauretta and Rinuccio are rapt in a love duet, "Lauretta mia" - there is no bar to their marriage since Schicchi can provide a respectable dowry. Schicchi, returning, stands moved at the sight of the two lovers. He turns to the audience and asks them to agree that no better use could be found for Buoso's wealth: although the poet Dante has condemned him to hell for this trick, Schicchi asks the audience to forgive him in light of "extenuating circumstances."
Gianni Schicchi – Baritone (lyric)
A farmer known for scheming, Lauretta's father
Lauretta – Soprano (lyric)
Gianni Schicchi's daughter
Zita – Contralto
Cousin of Buoso Donati
Rinuccio – Tenor (lyric)
Gherardo – Tenor
Nella – Soprano
Gherardino – Soprano/Treble
The son of Gherardo and Nella
Betto di Signa – Bass
Buoso's brother-in-law, poor and shabbily dressed
Simone - Bass
Cousin of Buoso
Marco - Baritone
La Ciesca – Mezzo-soprano
Maestro Spinelloccio – Bass
Ser Amantio di Nicolao – Baritone
Pinellino – Bass
Guccio – Bass
Place of birth: Lucca, Italy
Place of death: Brussels, Belgium
Giacomo Puccini was an Italian Late Romantic opera composer. He came from a musical family with organists and composers in five generations. However, as a child Puccini was neither a keen student or particularly interested in music. That was not sparked until he attended a performance of Verdi’s Aida in Pisa 1876.
His operas are written in the realistic Verismo style, with La bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly being his most popular.
Although his operas were hugely praised, on a personal level Puccini was struggling. He was in a near fatal auto accident in his 40s, his love life was full of jealousy and drama and he later died from throat cancer a week after having received experimental radiation treatment in Brussels. At the time of Puccini’s death, he was the most commercially successful opera composer of all time.
“Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man's faculties, and it is manifested in all high artistic achievements.“
He loved motor cars and speedboats. He was good friends with the inventor Thomas Edison.
Most prominent operas
Manon Lescaut 1893
La bohème 1896
Madama Butterfly 1904
La fanciulla del West 1910
La rondine 1917
Il tabarro 1918 (Il trittico)
Suor Angelica 1918 (Il trittico)
Gianni Schicchi 1918 (Il trittico)
Giovacchino Forzano was an Italian playwright, librettist, stage director, and film director. He is most known for writing the libretto for Puccini's Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi.
The libretto was written by Giovacchino Forzano and is based on an incident mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy. The work is the third and final part of Puccini's Il trittico (The Triptych, Il tabarro-Suor Angelica-Gianni Schicchi), three one-act operas with contrasting themes, originally written to be presented together.
2+1, 2+1, 2+1, 2 - 4, 3, 3+1, 0
timp, perc, harp, celesta, strings
Il trittico premiered in New York at The Metropolitan Opera in 1918.
Although Gianni Schicchi is most often performed as part of Il trittico, it is also frequently played on its own or with other short operas by other composers.
Today Gianni Schicchi is one of the 40 most performed operas worldwide.
Aria - Firenze e come un albero fiorito (Rinuccio)
Aria – O mio babbino caro (Lauretta)