By Sidney Dills, Diversions Editor
Furman Opera theater put on Gianni Schicchi, an opera by Giacomo Puccini, on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3.
The setting of the opera takes place in 1299 shortly after the death of Buoso Donati, a man who had many family members. Those family members are now on edge as they discover their inheritance in his last will and testament.
One of the best-acted scenes of the group is as they are whispering a rumor about Donati’s will to one another. Zita, played by Jessie Barnett, is the cranky old woman. She is the last to hear the rumor and Barnett portrayed well this senile woman throughout the movie.
The acting was well done during this portion of the opera, especially as the actors were running frantically around stage searching for Donati’s will. The cousins and nephew of Donati played by Barnett, Caleb Hopkins, and Jacob Gordon all have a rivalry to outdo each other throughout the beginning of the play. They often go to interrupt each other but are equally interested in plotting together.
The oldest member of the family, Simone, played by Hopkins is amusing with his disgusted facial expression that remains only to become more disgusted as the play progresses.
All of the members of the family were well acted and the singing was incredible, especially in the group numbers.
Half-way through the opera and the title character is finally on stage.
The family only goes to discover that he has left little inheritance to any of the family. Thus, they decide to call none other than the cleverest person in France, Gianni Schicchi.
Nathan Reeves, who played Gianni Schicchi, is the comic relief of the opera. He comes in with a devious and plotting look in his eyes only adding to a goblin-like smile as he begins to carry out his plan to take the best parts of Donati’s inheritance for himself.
Reeves plays his cunning character by hitting the tee with his witty and sarcastic lines.
Jessica Bitter plays Lauretta, Gianni Schicchi’s daughter. Bitter plays the one character in the opera who is innocent, oblivious, naïve and in love. Her innocence draws attention to the wrongdoing of the rest of the characters.
When Bitter is on stage she is in puppy love with Rinuccio, played by Andrew Wear. Bitter’s solo of the opera was impressive and her longing and loving eyes tempt Schicchi to allow his daughter to not only marry Rinuccio, but he also gives them all of the inheritance that he stole from the family members.
When the opera ends, Schicchi asks approval for his actions. How could they be from sin when he was doing it for his daughter’s love?
Although only 50 minutes long, he opera had a steady plot for the time allotted and all of the participants in the opera were extremely talented vocally. All of the actors made their characters their own.
Also in the production were Katy Wilson, Kira Kaplan, Bryce McClendon, Phillip Reed, and Lindsey Singelton as relatives of Buoso Donati. As the doctor, lawyer, cobbler, and dyer were Heather Mentz, Ben Keiper, Hannah Cox, and Kristen Murdaugh respectively.
It truly is a shame that the production could only have been for two nights, but let us see what the Furman Opera theatre has to offer next.