Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gianni Schicchi

I went to the final dress rehearsal for Florida Opera Theater's production of Gianni Schicchi at the home of Kathy and Steve Miller in Winter Park. The rehearsal had been moved to 8PM but when I arrived, the circular drive was already full of parked cars. Light glowed warmly from inside the mansion. The sunken living room offered a perfect set for the opera.

The actors, in costume, stood around Robin Stamper on the piano in the beginning, going over the songs. This is a very accessible opera since all the lyrics are in English. Stage director, Eric Pinder, then had the cast rehearse their final bows. Eric was very gracious about letting me sit in and sketch the rehearsal. He informed me that I had once sketched him at one of Mark Baratelli's early food truck gatherings.

Gene Tate sat on the bed as the cast got ready to do a full run through. He then got under the covers. I didn't realize that he had perhaps the easiest role in Giacomo Puccini's comic opera, playing Buoso Donati, who has just died. Relatives of Buoso sit around the bed lamenting his death and more importantly yearning to find out the contents of his will. They savagely search everywhere for the document, throwing papers everywhere. When it is found, they are mortified to discover that everything had been left to a monastery. They then truly cry and lament their loss.

Gianni Schicci is asked to help find some loop hole and he advises them to pretend that Buoso is still alive long enough to get a new will drafted. The dead man is treated like a puppet as Gianni throws his voice, trying to convince a visiting doctor that he is alive. Gianni himself gets under the sheets to dictate the new will in which he takes everything in order to unite his daughter with her true love, Rinuccio, played by Austin Hallock. The aria,  Oh my dear papa, sung by Lauretta, Gianni's daughter, played by Shannon Jennings, is one of Puccini's most well known, and one of the most popular arias in opera. Opera is still alive in Orlando.

When: December 8th, 7:30 p.m., December 9th, 2 p.m.
Venue: Bishop Moore High School, 3109 Edgewater Drive, Orlando FL
Phone: (407) 718-4365
Web Site: Tags: opera Price: $30
All performances will be followed by a reception.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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