The opera Gianni Schicchi is an entertaining musical drama in the form of a solitary act by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. The writer’s solitary comical opera, it contains the outstanding soprano aria “O mio babbino caro” (“Oh My Dear Father”). The work debuted at New York’s Metropolitan Opera on December 14, 1918, and it gained the most positive feedback out of a set of three of recently written one-act musical dramas by Puccini christened as Il trittico (“The Triptych”); the initial two were Il tabarro (“The Cloak”) and Suor Angelica (“Sister Angelica”). Il tabarro was a story of horrific catastrophe, and Suor Angelica a sweet and beguiling story, so by concluding with Gianni Schicchi, Puccini rounded off his work with a dauntless and rather comical sham.
In the midst of writing the work, Puccini, along with his librettist Giovacchino Forzano, saw the potential to weave the use of social satire in and out of the plot. The whole of the work remains in the singular location of the bedchamber of Buoso Donati, a wealthy and privileged Florentine who has just passed away, soon after after his demise, as his covetous relatives fake sadness and scan the house for his will. The temperament soon morphs to outrage however, when the relatives find that they have been excluded from Donati’s final will. They consequently call upon the services of the smart and creative Gianni Schicchi, and instruct him to fashion a fake will. The witty Schicchi, despite his charming and helpful words, turns their plan against them, giving the greater part of the dead man’s fortune to himself while the relatives, all witnesses to this wrongdoing of falsification, are compelled to sit by quietly in the presence of the public accountant and legal counselor. After these two have left, the family is then evicted from the premises by Schicchi, as he is now the legitimate proprietor of the house. Lauretta and Rinuccio are currently allowed to marry in peace, because of her freshly discovered status, and Schicchi comments to the audience watching this is the best utilization of Buoso Donati’s riches.
The tale of the musical drama is taken from a section in the 30th canto of Dante’s Inferno, which speaks of, in an unflattering style, Gianni Schicchi—a born and bred man of Florence—as having been committed to the eighth circle of hellfire along with different counterfeiters and cheats as punishment for masking himself as Donati whilst keeping in mind the final goal to get the man’s riches for himself. Some portion of the Donatis’ awesome house, so pined for in the musical drama, still stands in Florence today, a disintegrating tower on the Via del Corso, exceptionally close to the house where Dante was conceived in 1265. (Dante’s home was remade in the mid twentieth century and currently exists as a historical center). Dante, truth be told, ended up marrying Gemma Donati—to whom he was formally promised at age 12 – five years previously the passing of his dearest muse, Beatrice Portinari. In this way, it is very conceivable that he was biased towards the Donati side of occasions. In this essay, I will investigate the associations between Gianni Schicci and the history and culture of Italy, and along these lines what makes it such a very much adored work.
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