Fri, Feb 01, 2008 - Page 15 News List

Double the fun on the bill at TSO

By Bradley Winterton  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

This photo supplied by the Metropolitan Opera shows a of Gianni Schicchi, from Giacomo Puccini's Il Trittico. Puccini's work is a series of three one-act operas, with this one taking place in palace in Florence.

PHOTO: AP

Information has reached the Taipei Times that the Taipei Symphony Orchestra (TSO) will present two one-act operas in September under the baton of its new music director designate, Martin Fischer-Dieskau. They'll be two comedies, Wolf-Ferrari's Il Segreto di Susanna (Susanna's Secret) and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.

Both will be firsts for Taiwan, and as such should attract more than passing interest. They will be directed by Tseng Dau-hsiong (曾道雄), the man responsible for two recent Mozart productions, last month's Idomeneo and the TSO's Don Giovanni of 2006.

Il Segreto di Susanna (1909) is a period comedy about a woman who enjoys smoking cigarettes, a habit so unusual in women at the time that it that leads her husband to suspect she has a lover.

Gianni Schicchi forms the final part of Puccini's 1918 Il Trittico, a triptych of three one-act operas. It's set in the Middle Ages and centers on a death-bed scene and the impersonation of the dead man - who it's claimed has suddenly revived - in order to effect a re-writing of his will. It contains one of the most famous pieces of music Puccini ever wrote, the soprano aria O Mio Babbino Caro (O My Beloved Father).

Meanwhile, evidence of Tseng's success with Idomeneo has emerged in the shape of statistics for ticket sales. The Thursday evening performance was 86 percent full, Friday evening 92 percent full, while the final show, on a Saturday afternoon, was fully-booked, helped by Mozart enthusiasts being bused in from Taichung, Chiayi and Kaohsiung.

Clearly remembering that the Taipei Times had cast doubts on the viability of this particular work as a commercial venture, Tseng wrote to us saying, "This great opera's duration is three and a half hours including two intermissions, yet the audience was watching with very deep concentration until the last minute. Of course the subtitles, which I wrote myself, will certainly have helped them as well."

Let's hope that September's double-bill will be equally successful. Watch this page for more details as they are announced - or possibly even sooner.

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