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Tito Gobbi and Vistoria de los Angeles lead the cast in Puccini's Gianni Schicci this week on The Lyric Stage

This 1958 recording was the first recorded performance of Puccini's one act masterpiece.

Giacomo Puccini’s Il Trittico premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1918, but it took until 1958 for the first complete recorded performance of the third of that set of one acts, Gianni Schicci, to appear. It features Tito Gobbi and Victoria de los Angeles, and we have it for you this Sunday (10/2) on The Lyric Stage.

Puccini was inspired by a serious story from Dante's Inferno about the true swindling of the Donati family by the real Gianni Schicci. Using this solemn source Puccini created one of the finest of comic operas, turning the events into the triumph of a lovable rascal.

The greedy Donati family is stunned when Buoso Donati leaves all of his rich estate to the Monks. With reluctance - Gianni Schicci is beneath them after all, since he is from the country - they ask him to use his cunning to change the will before anyone else can find out Buoso is dead. Schicci seems to have a certain reputation for skill in that area. At first Schicci refuses to help "people like that", as he calls the Donatis, but his daughter pleads with him in the aria "O Mio Babbino Caro" to do as they ask so that she can marry Rinuccio, who is a member of the Donati family. Schicci can't refuse her.

After that aria, who could? He changes the will, and leaves the money not to the Donatis, but to himself, planning to use it for his daughter's dowry to marry Rinuccio.

All that settled, he turns to he audience, and admits that many would like to seem him roast in Dante's inferno for his deed. But with all respect to Dante, there were extenuating circumstances, he says, and asks the audience for a verdict of Not Guilty.

Mike Harrah is host of The Lyric Stage, which airs Sundays at 8 pm.