I am very pleased to announce that I will return to the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival this year to conduct a double-bill of Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini and I Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo.
The story of Gianni Schicchi is derived from a passage in the 30th canto of Dante’s Inferno, which mentions, in an unflattering fashion, Gianni Schicchi—who was an actual Florentine—as having been consigned to the eighth circle of hell with other forgers and cheats for disguising himself as Buoso Donati, a recently deceased Florentine aristocrat, in order to obtain Donati’s wealth for himself. Part of the Donatis’ great house, so coveted in the opera, still stands in Florence today, a crumbling tower on the Via del Corso, very near the house where Dante was born in 126.
Ruggero Leoncavallo’s opera about fatal jealousies in a travelling troupe of actors was based on a real-life story: a case encountered by Leoncavallo’s father, who was a police magistrate in Naples. The incident — concerning a middle-aged actor who murdered his unfaithful actress wife onstage during a performance — clearly inspired the story of the opera. Opera composers don’t often write their own libretto, but it looks like this case lit a creative spark in Leoncavallo.
Directed by Pierre Emmanuel Rousseau, the outstanding cast includes: Leonardo Galeazzi, Alejandro Roy, Matteo Loi, Solen Mainguené, Rory Dunne, John Porter, Gemma Ní Bhrianin, Bríd Ní Ghruagáin and James Nelson. Don’t miss it!