St Petersburg, Concert Hall

L´heure espagnole
Gianni Schicchi

one act operas


Conductor: Conductor: Gavriel Heine
L´heure espagnole
Torquemada:  Andrei Zorin
Concepcion: Irina Mataeva
Gonzalve: Alexander Timchenko
Ramiro: Sergei Romanov
Don Inigo Gomez: Nikolai Kamensky


  Gianni Schicchi
Gianni Schicchi: Alexander Gergalov
Lauretta: Olga Trifonova
Rinuccio: Oleg Balashov


Age category 12+


Performed in Russian


Synopsis of the opera L´heure espagnole

Setting The interior of Torquemada´s shop in Toledo in the 18th century

Ramiro the muleteer enters Torquemada the old watchmaker´s workshop. Ramiro has a problem; his grandfather clock, a family heirloom, has broken. The muleteer is relying on the experienced Torquemada´s skill. But the watchmaker cannot tend to customers – it is Thursday and he plans to check and regulate the city clock. As he must fly, Ramiro must wait; when he returns the old watchmaker will deal with the problem.
Torquemada´s young wife Concepciуn is distressed at his words; Thursday is the only day of the week when, in the absence of the old man, her young bachelor lover Gonzalve can visit her.
The large Catalan clock in the shop prompts a lucky thought to Torquemada´s resourceful wife. Using Ramiro´s momentary distractedness, she pushes the bachelor into the large cavity of the clock and shuts the door firmly. Ramiro is requested to take the clock to Concepciуn´s bedroom on the upper floor, but the weak Torquemada could never manage such a load. The visitor is glad to oblige the mistress of the house. With the heavy cargo on his shoulders he slowly mounts the stairs. Concepciуn, pleased at her inventive plan, follows after him.
Meanwhile, Don Inigo Gomez the banker appears in the workshop  – he too has come to woo Concepciуn.
Impatiently, he paces around the room. Hearing a man´s footsteps, the banker decides to hide in a large Catalan clock  – an exact copy of that in the bedroom. With difficulty, Don Inigo squeezes inside and hurries to close the door.
Ramiro has been entrusted with the shop and he is glad to fulfil this request. Concepciуnun expectedly comes downstairs. She is disappointed with Gonzalve who has decided that rendezvous with women exist only for the recitation of pompous odes. Concepciуn asks Ramiro to carry the load back to the shop as the clock is "going the wrong way". Ramiro readily departs and Don Inigo can finally reveal himself to the lady of the house. Concepciуnchanges her plans. The muleteer who has returned the unlucky Gonzalve to the shop quickly takes the other clock  – the one with the banker  – upstairs. It is heavier than the first, but the difference in weight means nothing to the powerful Ramiro.
Ramiro watches over the shop once again, and Gonzalve, having swapped places with the banker, is hidden in the narrow and stuffy cavity. The thwarted Concepciуn once again descends from her rooms. The fat Inigo, who shut himself in in a moment of danger, is unable to get out without help. Concepciуn is not strong enough. Perhaps Ramiro would be so kind as to take the useless Catalan clock out of her room. With complete submissiveness, the muleteer goes upstairs. His kindness and obliging nature win over, and his skill and outstanding physical strength astound Concepciуn. Abandoning the bachelor and the banker to fate, she ultimately gives her preference to the modest village boy.
When he returns home, Torquemada finds the strange men in the clock. "Customers," the startled old man´s wife explains, "wishing to buy the clock, the banker and the bachelor decided to examine the clock´s mechanism with their own eyes." Don Inigo and Gonzalve have to loosen their purse strings. Torquemada, delighted at this spot of trade, is in fine spirits; Concepciуn and Ramiro, having exchanged loving glances, are arranging future rendezvous.


Synopsis of the opera Gianni Schicchi

Setting Florence, 1299

The rich old Buoso Donati has died. His family express their grief to one another. However, in reality they are all thinking of the deceased´s will. There are rumours that he has left everything to a monastery in San Reparata. Surely this can´t be true? The relatives turn for advice to the seventy-year-old Simone, the cousin of the dead man, who was once mayor of Fuccecio. Simone says that if the will is in the house something may yet be done. Everyone starts to search for the document that will reveal the dead man´s wishes. It is found by Rinuccio, the young nephew of Zita, Buoso´s cousin. Unlike the deceased´s other relatives, he thinks little of money. His thoughts are taken up with Lauretta, Gianni Schicchi´s daughter. They love one another. But the elderly aunt is indifferent to the match. Zita promises her blessing on one condition  – if the testament fills their pockets and there is no longer any need to think of the potential income from a dowry. Full of hope at the deliverance the will might lend, Rinuccio sends the young Gherardino for Schicchi and his daughter.
The reading of Buoso Donati´s last will confirms the worst  – all is to go to the monks. The relatives react with rage. Rinuccio suggests getting advice from Gianni Schicchi. Buoso´s relatives want nothing to do with him, considering him a vulgar peasant who is below them. Rinuccio defends the father of his beloved, praising the ingenuity of those who have, like him, come from outside Florence to make it a greater place. Gianni Schicchi appears with his daughter Lauretta. He is insulted almost from the outset, and the marriage refused on the grounds that Lauretta has no dowry to offer. Initially refusing to help, his daughter´s plea convinces him to intervene. Sending his daughter onto the balcony, Schicchi orders the body be taken into another room, the bed to be made and that all traces of mourning be removed. Suddenly there is a knock at the door  – Dr Spinelloccio has come to see his patient. Hidden, Schicchi imitates Buoso Donati´s voice, telling the doctor he is much better and asking him to return later. The doctor leaves singing the praises of Bolognese medicine.
Gianni Schicchi reveals his plan. All are convinced that he can copy the dead man´s voice to perfection. And if he can imitate his appearance too then he can dictate a new will to the notary. The relatives are delighted and begin to discuss the division of the property. Outside the window a funeral bell sounds and excitement turns to terror  – surely Buoso´s death has not been discovered? But it is a false alarm. One after the other, Donati´s relatives, unknown to each other, try to bribe Gianni Schicchi to give them the most valuable share of the inheritance. Schicchi promises to do as each asks, but reminds them that forgery is punishable by law and the penalty the cutting of a hand. The relatives are worried. But even fear of a frightful punishment cannot stop them dreaming of riches.
Having changed his clothes, Schicchi gets into Buoso´s death bed. Accompanied by two witnesses  –  Guccio and Pinellino  – Ser Amantio di Nicolaio the local notary appears. The "dying man" informs him that his paralysed arm has left him unable to write, so his will must be dictated. He asks for "his family" to be present when the document is prepared. Then, after initially sharing the wealth as agreed, the false Buoso wills his most valuable property to his "great friend Gianni Schicchi". The relatives are beside themselves in fury but are powerless. If they expose this crafty villain they will put their own necks in the noose. When the notary departs, all the cousins and their spouses fall upon Schicchi. But as the new master he orders them all out. Rinuccio and Lauretta are able to love in peace and sing of their future together. The old Zita cannot prevent their marriage.
Gianni Schicchi turns to the audience and asks them to forgive him his little deceit because of the mitigating circumstances. Despite being banished to hell, he argues that all has could not have turned out better. He says that the great Dante also forgives him and expresses his gratitude for providing the subject of the work.



L´heure espagnole

opera in one act
Music by Maurice Ravel
Libretto by Franc-Nohain
(translation by Xenia Klimenko
and Natalia Mordashova)

Musical Director: Valery Gergiev
Director of the new stage version: Alexander Maskalin
Design: Sebastien Carlier
Costume Designer: Marion Cointot
Lighting Designer: Kamil Kutyev
Musical Preparation: Natalia Mordashova

World premiere: 19 May 1911, Opéra-Comique, Paris
Premiere of this production: 29 January 2010, Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, St Peterburg

Running time: 47 minutes 

  Gianni Schicchi

opera in one act
Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giovaccino Forzano
(translation by Marina Mishuk)

Musical Director: Valery Gergiev
Director: Alexander Maskalin
Design: Garance Marneur
Costume Designer: Laurent Mercier
Lighting Designer: Kamil Kutyev
Musical Preparation: Natalia Mordashova

World premiere: 14 December 1918, Metropolitan, New York
Premiere of this production: 2 June 2008, Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, St Peterburg

Running time: 42 minutes 


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