REVIEW: Il Tabarro and Gianni Schicchi by Puccini, English Touring Opera, Lyceum

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These two one act operas could not be more different in their stories or their excellent sets.

Well acted and well sung they made a very enjoyable evening.

Il Tabarro, the cloak, is a grim tale set on a barge moored on the Seine.

For the barge owner and his wife their place of comfort and ultimately of horror is the barge owner’s cloak.

Simon Thorpe and Julie Unwin were well cast as Michelle and Giorgetta.

The river and its workings are strangely present in the music.

We felt sympathy for all the characters whose lives are held by the river and the work on its docks but who have their dreams.

Gianni Schicchi is a wholly comic tale of avaricious relatives frustrated by the wealthy Buoso Donati’s will. In conspiring to stop his bequest to a monastery they are, in their turn, tricked by Gianni Schicchi.

The staging, make-up, costumes, elaborate set and the antics of the cast all showed great and successful attention to comic detail.

We only stopped laughing for the aria we all know, ‘O mio babbino caro’, when Paula Sides, as Lauretta, exquisitely wound her father round her little finger.

Never was a small part of Dante’s Inferno more hilarious - if only Puccini had written a full length comic opera.

This evening would have been a great introduction for anyone going to opera for the first time: a thriller and a laugh-out-loud comedy with memorable music beautifully sung.

Mavis Kirkham