Puccini’s comedy gets a fine ensemble cast in this colourful outing.
Grange Park Opera is becoming known not only for its innovative and often starry Summer productions, but also its commitment to keeping opera alive with free to view performances. This eye-poppingly colourful, determinedly funny version of the third part of Puccini’s Il Trittico is the sixth in the series, and it’s an ideal introduction to Italian opera buffa, set piece arias, daft relations and all.
An excellent company cast has been assembled, the achingly nouveau riche Chelsea drawing room and ‘Country house style’ bedroom crammed with experienced singing actors, with William Dazeley’s Schicchi and Sara Fulgoni’s Zita throwing themselves into their parts with such gusto that they almost seem to spin off the screen. Luis Gomez and Chloe Morgan made a very attractive pair of lovers, both young voices displaying plenty of the required italianità.
“…an ideal introduction to Italian opera buffa…”
Ailish Tynan was almost too credible as Nella, and Emyr Wyn Jones as Marco played up the charmer to great effect. The rest of the Donati clan were just as convincingly ghastly, with Jeremy White an especially conniving Simone. The singing throughout was confident, joyful and expressive.
Set in a Chelsea house rather than a Florentine mansion, the one thing missing was the four poster bed, behind the drawn curtains of which Schicchi could dictate his will unseen. Apart from that, Stephen Medcalf directs a witty, beautifully imagined production, with Chris Hopkins’ piano making you feel after a while that the orchestra was not much missed. The cinematography (Daniel Zafer) and video editing (Fintan O’Connor) were slickly done, and the sound (Rodrigo Leal and Tom Marshall) lacked nothing in spaciousness and bloom.
If seeing this colourful display of true ensemble work has whetted your appetite for more, the 2022 Grange Park season is full of delights, beginning with David Pountney’s production of Janáček’s The Excursions of Mr Broucek, starring Peter Hoare, Clive Bayley and Andrew Shore. A starrily cast version of Poncielli’s La Gioconda follows, with Joseph Calleja and Amanda Echalaz, and then Verdi’s Otello with Simon Keenlyside’s Iago. Finally, Bryn Terfel and Nicky Spence feature in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer.
Further details of the 2022 season can be found here.
The free stream of Gianni Schicchi can be found here.