St Cuthbert’s Church (Edinburgh) – 20th August
The Old Kirk (Kirkcaldy) – 21st August
Beacon Arts Centre (Greenock) – 22nd August
St Johns Renfield (Glasgow) – 23rd August
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) is one of the most important ‘modern’ purveyors of the operatic arts, composer of such wonders as La Boehme & Madame Butterfly. There is another one-act creation, however, that I feel transcends all his other work, the comic masterpiece that is Gianni Schicchi. The story goes that way back in the 13th century, he tricked the Donati family out of their inheritance by impersonating the dead Buoso Donati & altering the will. One of these family members was Gemma Donati, the wife of Dante Alighieri, which earned Gianni a place in the eigth circle of the inferno, reserved for fraudsters & tricksters. Completed in 1918, & premiered that same year in New York, Giovacchino Forzano’s libretto surfs easily on the happy & uplifting, smile-inducing, contement-completing music which attends to this wee marvel. Especially poignant is the aria “O mio babbino caro,” one of the most popular arias in opera.
This is only Opera Bohemia’s fifth production, & they are going from strength to strength. Using their biggest cast to date, they transport the setting to 1983, & with near-perfect Italian give apitch-perfect rendition. As I laughed my way through the show, the modern dress gave the actual board-treading an element of the modern sitcom, as if Duty Free had just burst into glorious song. Especially entertaining was Cheryl Forbes (Baroness Zita) & the best voice emanating brightly from the well-studied Andrew Dickinson (Rinuccio). At the end, St Cuthbert’s church erupted as one in loud & long complimentations. A powerful hour indeed.
Reviewer : Damo Bullen
Note from CEO – Sarah Lewis also went to the show & added the following…- Opera Bohemia is a new vibrant opera company, committed to offering performance opportunities to young Scottish musicians, singers and directors. After five years of coming to Edinburgh Festival Fringe, they present Puccini’s renowned one-act opera, ‘Gianni Schicchi’, which celebrates the most famed soprano aria known in the opera scene, “O Mio Babbino Caro” (“O My Beloved Father”). Opera Bohemia is keen to make opera more accessible for all throughout Scotland and there near sell out show illustrate their success.
Their astounding cast includes the likes of BBC Kiri Prize winner Shuna Sendall, Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Andrew McTaggart, Royal Opera House debutant Andrew Dickinson, and Scottish beloved Alan Watt. Director, Tom Cooper presents this intimate opera with creative endeavor and comic brilliance. It is sung in Italian with English subtitles. A live string orchestra left stage brings the operatic piece to life; adding to the sober emotions and rising tensions as the Donati family figure out how the can protect their late uncle’s fortune. Each character is represent wonderfully by the performers. Their amusing facial expressions tell half the story. Last night was their only performance in this years Edinburgh Fringe, but you can follow them to Kirkcaldy, Greenock and Glasgow over the next few days.