Opera Ithaca Announces Original Film Production Of Gianni Schicchi
Opera Ithaca announces plans for the September release of an original film production of Giacomo Puccini's 1918 one-act comedy, Gianni Schicchi. In response to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, the film's release will be the first step in a revamped 2020-2021 season for the Ithaca, New York-based company.
Gianni Schicchi is set in the present, with the cantankerous members of the Donati family mourning the death of their patriarch via video chat. All components of the film will be completed with social distance, including the recording of the singers and the orchestra. Casting was structured around singers living in environments that already matched the dramaturgy of the opera, so social distance parameters can be observed while allowing for the physical interaction of certain characters. "The film production of Gianni Schicchi gives Opera Ithaca a unique opportunity to present a beloved opera with a distinctive reflection on current times," says Artistic Director Ben Robinson. "We are re-thinking what opera can be, and we are giving our audience a fun and safe way to enjoy what we have to offer." Gianni Schicchi, which had its premiere in the midst of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, will be post-produced and released on a streaming platform associated with the company's website, www.operaithaca.org.
The cast of Gianni Schicchi includes veteran baritone Dennis Jesse in the title role, Emily Pulley as Zita, Elena Galván as Lauretta, Daniel Bates as Rinuccio, Nicholas Davis as Betto, Michael Scarcelle as Marco, Megnot Toggia as La Ciesca, and Steve Stull as Simone. Husband and wife Brent Reilly Turner and Sarah Beckham Turner sing Gherardo and Nella, respectively, while Beckham-Turner's nephew, Quay Blanks, appears as Gherardino, and her father, James Beckham, appears as Buoso Donati. Artistic Director Ben Robinson will direct and Christopher Zemliauskas will conduct. Opera Ithaca is partnering with cinematographer David Kossack and the award-winning PhotoSynthesis Productions for the filming of this production.
"I realize the irony in saying that the artistic team is truly thinking outside the box when we're actually going to be portraying our characters inside a box of sorts," says Emily Pulley, " but I believe the brilliance of Puccini's score and the comedic intent will come shining through and will hopefully reach an audience ranging from seasoned opera goers who are longing to hear one of their favorite pieces to those who are just curious about the art form and how it can be presented by means of our current technology. And I think we could all really use a good laugh right about now!"
Opera Ithaca was founded in 2014 by Zachary James and Lynn Craver. The company is committed to producing diverse repertoire, with a special focus on presenting a work composed by a woman on every season. Lauded for its innovative productions, the company also features a robust Apprentice Artist Program, a nationally recognized voice competition, and an incubator series for the creation of female-driven operatic works.