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Times & Telegraph

Gianni Schicchi

Gianni Schicchi got 4 stars from The Times & The Telegraph:

★★★★ The Times

The pace of the show is so fast and the humour so broad and inventive that any incongruity is rendered irrelevant. There’s even a boy slipping a whoopee cushion under the posteriors of his uncles and aunts, and a little dog who appears to nod approvingly as Chloe Morgan (Lauretta) finishes her charming rendition of O mio babbino caro. The cast of spirited performers also includes William Dazeley as an ebullient Schicchi, the young tenor Luis Gomes in ardent voice serenading the glories of Florence, and a trio of wonderfully wily ladies — Sara Fulgoni, Ailish Tynan, Jessica Costelloe — attempting to seduce Schicchi by peeling off the Velcro fasteners on his mechanic’s overalls. It would be fair to say that the singing generally is more lusty than lustrous, and there’s none of Puccini’s orchestration to enjoy. However, the music director Chris Hopkins performs virtuosic miracles with his deft piano accompaniments, and that adds to the feeling that we are trapped in some elegant drawing room packed with humanity at its most venal.

★★★★ The Telegraph

Stephen Medcalf ’s film makes skilful use of the rooms of the smart house (with a few operatic allusions in the costume designs on the bedroom walls), and, though there is some idiocy with whoopee cushions and a sweet but superfluous dog, the music is excellently projected and convincingly dubbed by a top-notch set of British singers. It has all been recorded, filmed and edited in a couple of months: a very sophisticated piece of work. At the centre of the ruse is William Dazeley’s workman Gianni Schicchi, brought in to re-dictate Donati’s will from his bed, who turns the tables on the greedy relatives and leaves the house and the money to himself. Younger and more vigorous than most Schicchis of today (the composer says he should be 50), Dazeley is acerbic and witty, and in this version he doesn’t even conceal himself behind the usual four-poster curtains to wreak his revenge; the lawyer obediently taps on his laptop while sitting on Schicchi’s bed.