Last Will and Testament?

Giacomo Puccini’s triptych of operas “Il Tabarro”, “Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi” has always posed a major production problem. Are the one-acters always to be performed together in one go or can they be divided into separate evenings?

Last year’s production at Torre Del Lago paired “Il Tabarro” with “Cavalleria Rusticana” (usually combined with “I Pagliacci”). I didn’t think it was all that effective especially as “Tabarro”, a musically rather more advanced piece than “Cav”, was performed first.

There are those who maintain that “Suor Angelica” is a weaker piece than the other two and can, therefore, be easily omitted if a shorter opera evening is desired. I utterly disagree than “Suor Angelica” is “weaker”. Indeed, for me its extraordinary modal harmonies point towards a possible new development in the composer’s art – truncated by his death in 1924 but surely pursued in 19 years younger Respighi’s instrumental and operatic works.

How did the second and final event in Bagni di Lucca’s operatic season handle Puccini’s Trittico?


For a start only selected items from the first two were presented in an unstaged, recital format. This was most effectively contrasted with the second half which was a fully staged production of “Gianni Schicchi”.  The fact that a pianist represented the orchestra throughout the evening was not a disadvantage since the words came out much more clearly.

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(Valeria Boi as Suor Angelica)

“Gianni Schicchi” continued its initial success, when first staged at New York’s metropolitan Opera in 1918, with BDL’s theatre audience. Its theme of a double swindle, first with Schicchi impersonating a dead Buoso Donati to re-write an unpopular will and second with Schicchi double-crossing Donati’s family members in order to benefit his own must be close to the heart of many Italians, even today, in a country where inheritance laws based on “la Legittima” are often so much at odds with family realpolitik.

What can be said about the performances? That the singers were excellent, that the pianist was the best I’ve seen accompanying these mini-opera productions, that the audience fully entered into the spirit of  the evening and that we left the theatre with light hearts and grateful that this part of the world does not have to seek very far to find such excellences in musical performances!



5 thoughts on “Last Will and Testament?

  1. Despite the fact that we have enjoyed these three Puccini Operas at least 3 times if not more I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon event, also as it was in the afternoon and no long drives or late nights driving in the dark. As I have already stated having seen these many times over I thought not again, however, there is always something new to hear and enjoy, in this case also as this event was not fully orchestrated we could more clearly hear and enjoy what was being sung. Certainly it seems that this will business was troubling, Puccini as it is included in two of his operas it is a most onerous subject and I could easily get on my hobby horse about this having suffered many times both on my parents side and my husband’s side this monster regards the Will, not even the so called Legittima having saved any member of these families. I will not recount the details but the effect can be totally devastating for the recipient or should I say the non-recipient!

  2. A nome della Fondazione Montaigne e mio personale ringrazio vivamente per il lusinghiero giudizio sulla Piccola Stagione Lirica che abbiamo offerto a Bagni di Lucca e agli amici della bella musica.

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