This evening of two Italian operas is like an exhilaratingly upbeat carnival. Ferruccio Busoni’s Arlecchino from the 1910s will be performed in Finland for the first time ever. Busoni liked Mozart and hated Wagner, played around with operatic cliches, borrowed from history, and punctuated the comical narrative of Arlecchino with quotes from sources as diverse as Don Giovanni and ragtime. He revived the spirit of the commedia dell’arte of 16th century town squares and markets.
In Gianni Schicchi, relatives seem to grieve more over the testament than the deceased. It’s the usual story – complications, liaisons, sleights of hand, short changing, and one salvaged marital vow. Gianni Schicchi himself is the most endearing of all the shameless tricksters in operatic literature, a rascal who always stays one step ahead. The number one aria of the performance, O mio babbino caro, is enough to make any protective father give in to his daughter’s pleas.