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Puccini: Gianni Schicchi [DVD]  
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Alessandro Corbelli takes the title role in Annabel Arden's whirlwind production of Puccini's compact opera, in which the scheming Gianni Schicchi retrieves for himself the spoils of a disinherited family to pave the way for his daughter to marry her love.
"Alessandro Corbelli delivers a masterclass in how to extract every ounce of humour from comedy by playing it straight. He is the king of comedy and an international treasure." (The Stage)
"...conducted with flamboyant verve and mercurial comic energy by Jurowski, this is close to the perfect Glyndebourne experience." (The Sunday Times)
"Puccini's comic masterpiece comes in a production by Annabel Arden that determinedly underlines the black side of this sparkling farce. The conductor, Vladimir Jurowski, also emphasizes that point, suggesting that Puccini's construction anticipates that of the modern film in its timing and cutting of scenes...On the musical side, perfection of ensemble - for which Glyndebourne has long been famed - is at the root of this performance's success, with such characterful singers as Felicity Palmer and Marie McLaughlin among the mixed group of grasping relations. Alessandro Corbelli proves a masterly Schicchi, at once characterful, funny and sinister, and the two lovers are well taken by the tenor, Massimo Giordano, and the young soprano, Sally Matthews with her fresh, flickering vibrato." (The Penguin Guide)
CastAlessandro Corbelli (Gianni Schicchi)Felicity Palmer (Zita)Marie McLaughlin (La Ciesca)Massimo Giordano (Rinuccio)Sally Matthews (Lauretta)
London Philharmonic Orchestra; Vladimir JurowskiStage Director: Annabel Arden
Catalogue Number: OA0918DDate of Performance: 2004Running Time: 74 minutesSound: DTS Surround; LPCM StereoAspect Ratio: 16:9 AnamorphicSubtitles: EN, FR, DE, ES, ITLabel: Opus Arte
Top customer reviews
I did not know this was included when I ordered for Gianni Schicci. Just look at the Amazon page and the cover of the BD. The fact of the Rachmaninoff 'Miserly Knight' being included in this BD is written in such a small print that it could be mistaken for the 'small-print' in a dubious insurance policy document. I did not notice it. At that time, there was no other review either on the page, pointing this out. I think they treated this inclusion like the Miserly Knight wanting to guard his treasure from others even after his death....
For those who enjoy Operas of Wagner, Debussy, Janacek and their ilk, the Miserly Knight, although it lasts for just around 70 minutes, is a thoroughly enjoyable fare. In fact, it is just wonderful. The singers, the directors and of course Jurowsky have made it into a fabulous production. The Music that Rachmaninoff composed for this is just out of this world...even out of his world... There are no great arias (in fact none), no hum-able tunes that pop out or for that matter, no 'action' either. The work seduces you in its entirety just by the dominance of the Orchestral portion with all the treatment Rachmaninoff is famous for. The singers have difficult parts that blend so well with the drama and the music, and is an 'All-Male' affair...
I would suggest you buy this disc for the Rachmaninoff rather than Schicchi, which you may already possess in another production.
Not that the Schicci is in any way performed inadequately. In fact, it is one of the best Schicchi's that I have seen, with Allessandro Corbelli in the title role along with absolutely all the others doing a fabulous job of it.
This disc was worth every penny I paid, and I do hope one is as pleasantly surprised by the Rachmaninoff as I have been.
Both operas have greed as the linking theme. In the case of Gianni, greed manifests itself in the machinations surrounding the will of a recently deceased elderly man and his grasping relatives. In the case of the Miserly Knight, greed manifests itself in the miser's relationship with his hoard of gold and the repercussions upon himself and his impoverished son. Both operas are full of marvellous music, the Puccini being an example of comedy and the Rachmaninov an example of tragedy.
Gianni Schicchi is produced in a totally traditional setting of fastidious historical accuracy and complexity. The drama is provided by the interactions between the characters and the situation rather than through changes of scene as there is just one scene throughout. The cast are perfectly matched and are all outstanding in both their singing abilities and their acting abilities. This priceless combination makes this by far the most effective and enjoyable production that I have ever seen of this opera.
One must mention a few particularly outstanding roles however. Alessandro Corbelli in the title role matchlessly demonstrates his wonderful sense of comic timing throughout. In this he is matched by Felicity Palmer as the grasping socialite, Zita. Her nephew, passionately wishing to marry Schicchi's daughter and equally believing in Schicchi's abilities to solve the problem of the disinheritance, is sung with equal passion by Massimo Giordano. He is well matched by the sincere simplicity of Sally Matthews as Schicchi's daughter who gains special applause for her touching rendition of `O mio babbino caro'.
This is a dream team and a dream production. The camera work is beyond reproach as is the sound, presented in PCM 5.1 and stereo. This is clearly a 5 star issue and was loved by the Glyndebourne audience.
The Miserly Knight was composed by Rachmaninov in 1904 when he was only 30. The original tale was written by Pushkin as one of an intended series of poems depicting the 7 deadly sins. In the event only 4 were completed and none of them were intended for performance. For this rarely-performed work Rachmaninov set the story almost word for word from the original and thus dispensed with a librettist. It is told in three scenes with 5 principals and no chorus.
To quote the sleeve notes: `The narrative is so bald, it can be compressed into two sentences. The Baron keeps his son Albert in penury, compelling him to rely on moneylenders for finance and finally to throw himself on the mercy of the local feudal duke. When the duke confronts the Baron with his miserly greed, the Baron slanders Albert, is challenged to a duel, and in a state of shock, collapses and dies'.
There is a central 20 minute monologue where the Baron broods on his accumulated wealth during which nothing dramatic happens. This situation seems unpromising but omits the extraordinarily effective and vital role of Rachmaninov's orchestration. Those who are familiar with his `Isle of the Dead' symphonic work will be aware of his considerable abilities in painting such atmospheric scenes by way of orchestral colouring. This grim tale therefore fits the composer's psyche and musical imagination and skills perfectly and the result is a compressed tale of gripping dramatic effect.
The Glyndebourne setting of this tale is fittingly dark and forbidding, lacking in any civilising softness. Jurowski is able to conjure up powerfully dark textures and sounds from the fine London Philharmonic which is on top form. The roles of the Baron (Sergei Leiferkus), his son Albert (Richard Berkeley-Steele), Albert's servant (Maxim Mikhailov), the moneylender (Viacheslav Voynarovskiy) and the Duke (AlbertSchagidullin) are all sung and acted superlatively additionally benefitting from several authentic Eastern European vocal textures.
In summary therefore, this claustrophobic tale is given a reading that for many, including myself, would be considered near definitive. The camera work of Opus Arte is ideal as is the sound, presented in PCM 5.1 and stereo. This was enthusiastically received by the Glyndebourne audience even though, for many, it would have been a very dark debut experience.
This is an outstanding release therefore and clearly of 5 star quality. It should give great pleasure to purchasers on all counts while probably being an invaluable extension of their knowledge and understanding of Rachmaninov's musical world as well as being of enormously rewarding to lovers of the Puccini.
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Most recent customer reviews
Little known opera but has some recognisable scores not least of all O mio papa bambino.
Sound and picture top quality.