Expansion of repertoire is a major objective of Artistic Director ONO Kazushi. As a first step in this direction, this season he has put together an intriguing double-bill of one-act operas both set in Florence. ZEMLINSKY's Eine florentinische Tragödie (A Florentine Tragedy), with its lush and dazzling sound world, and PUCCINI's comic masterpiece Gianni Schicchi will each bring out different aspects of the city's multifaceted charms. The all-Japanese creative team is lead by AGUNI Jun, one of the most sought-after opera directors in Japan, and the production will be conducted by NUMAJIRI Ryusuke, experienced opera conductor and former music director of Theater Lübeck, who has special affinity with late Romantic repertoire. There is also a strong emphasis on Japanese talent in the cast, including SAITO Junko (Bianca), a Europe-based Japanese soprano hand-picked by Artistic Director ONO, and SUNAKAWA Ryoko and MURAKAMI Toshiaki as the young lovers in Gianni Schicchi. There is much to look forward to from international stars as well, with Sergei LEIFERKUS as the jealous Simone in Eine florentinische Tragödie and Carlos ALVAREZ playing the wily old Schicchi.
Eine florentinische Tragödie
When wealthy cloth merchant Simone arrives home early from a business trip, he finds his wife Bianca in the company of Guido Bardi, a Florentine prince. Simone pretends to believe that Guido has come to buy his merchandise and offers him the most expensive cloths, but Guido then asks to buy Bianca. Despite the provocation, Simone hosts a dinner but he strongly suspects the relationship between Bianca and the prince and leaves the room. Guido gives Bianca a long kiss and she declares her love. As Guido takes his leave, Simone challenges him to a duel and in the struggle he strangles Guido to death. Discovering how strong her husband really is, Bianca finds renewed love and they embrace over Guido's dead body.
The wealthy aristocrat Buoso Donati has just died and his relatives have gathered in mourning - but in fact they are only concerned about his will. Rinuccio finds it, but will not hand it over until his Aunt Zita agrees that he may marry Lauretta, the daughter of Gianni Schicchi. When the relatives read the will, they discover that the deceased has left his fortune to the monastery. Hoping to forge a will, they turn to the shrewd Gianni Schicchi for help. At first he refuses but is persuaded by Lauretta who wants to marry Rinuccio ("O mio babbino caro"). He devises a plan to impersonate the dead man and dictate a new will. But when the notary comes, he leaves the greater part of the fortune to himself. The relatives are furious but helpless. At the end he addresses the audience, begging them not to judge him too harshly.