Review: Il Tabarro & Gianni Schicchi, English Touring Opera, Snape Maltings, April 14

English Touring Opera, Gianni-Schicchi Ensemble, at Snape Maltings. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

English Touring Opera, Gianni-Schicchi Ensemble, at Snape Maltings. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith - Credit: Archant

Operas are generally large scale affairs – frequently a few acts and a few hours. It is, perhaps, surprising that relatively few ‘short’ operas – around an hour or so – have established a secure niche in the repertoire. Puccini’s trio of such works, ‘Il Trittico’ has certainly found favour and ETO performed two of them at Snape following two well attended performances of Figaro.

English Touring Opera, Gianni-Schicchi Ensemble, at Snape Maltings. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

English Touring Opera, Gianni-Schicchi Ensemble, at Snape Maltings. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith - Credit: Archant

Il Tabarro (The Cloak) is a gloomy, somewhat sinister piece but the opening music superbly evokes the gently rocking barge moored on the Seine. Michael Rosewell’s assured conducting and the players’ obvious empathy with the score were wholly in keeping with the tragic story, as was the design and set. Craig Smith was excellent as Michele, the middle-aged barge owner; his discontent and hurt with his wife’s behaviour was well conveyed. Sara-Jane Lewis as Giorgetta sang with bright clarity and her serious flirtation with Charne Rochford’s passionate Luigi was credible and compelling. Timothy Dawkins and Clarissa Meek provided a touching contrast as an older and less happy couple and the other characters all contributed effectively to a powerful, gripping performance.

Gianni Schicci, a comedy, was an immediate and enduring success and is often performed apart from its companions. Schicchi is an historical character who appears in the thirtieth Canto of Dante’s Inferno but here he is the father of a marriageable daughter and he has some fun imitating the recently deceased Buoso Donati.

The music is full of wit and energy and conductor Michael Rosewell drew pointed and characterful playing from the fine orchestra.

Andrew Slater made the most of Schicchi’s role which allows plenty of scope for various escapades and there was much to enjoy, particularly as he distributed the new will to the grasping relatives who failed to realise they were being hoodwinked. Everyone played their part to the full in what is very much a cooperative venture. Rather than name every singer, it seems more appropriate to acknowledge the slick interplay, sharp timing and outstanding design and direction that underpinned this fine performance. Outstanding performances again from the splendid ETO.

English Touring Opera, Gianni-Schicchi Ensemble, at Snape Maltings. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

English Touring Opera, Gianni-Schicchi Ensemble, at Snape Maltings. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith - Credit: Archant


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