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Friday, May 31, 2013

Gianni Schicchi Diary pt. 5: Who Are These People?

I wanted to offer my ideas for back story for each of the characters. Final decisions are up to the individual artists. These are suggested. But it is important that each character, title role or one line, have a history and an idea oh why s/he is in this story.

Settings : Florence 1299
 Forzano is carefully to make the Donati family what seems to us distantly related. Zita is Buoso's cousin. .






Remember the Gibellini wrote a political faction against the Catholic church. They were routinely exiled, or worse. Rinuccio her nephew. (What does that make him to Buoso?) The rest are cousins and in laws.If Buoso had a direct line there'd be no show.

I would describe the Donati as middle class. They are literate. Buoso has money and property to leave. A mule equalled commerce and money. The mills (i mulini) were productive. And we are given to understand the 'casa di Firenze' has a roof and a floor-making it more than respectable, even enviable.

GIANNI SCHICCHI-the smartest guy in the room. Eight hundred years later he would have come straight out of Damon Runyon. He's charming, slick, smart and his only "weakness" is his daughter. What about his wife? She is mentioned neither in Dante of by Forzano. Any ideas? Gianni was born in the lower classes and is self-made. That's a problem. He no longer fits in his own class and certainly not amongst the Donati. So where does he belong and does he care?


LAURETTA-very smart. Her father's daughter. She would have been heavily guarded as a very young woman. Probably convent educated. Her love for Rinuccio is more-how to say this gently-horny than true emotional love. Knows babbino will do anything for her-that with him and probably with all men she is in control. She knows exactly how women rule men.




ZITA-matriarch. Married off young. First husband died. Married again. He died. Married a third time. He died. No children. Has built up some $$ as a three time widow but without kids enough is never enough. She is not warm fuzzy. She doesn't need Buoso's money but that's not the point.

 (Here's another way to look at Buoso's family!):








RINUCCIO Mama' s boy. We don't know who Mama is-Zita his aunt is the matriarchal figure. Was he orphaned and raised by these distant relations?  His outlook is more emotional than sexual (girls develop first). 'Fireze e come 'un albero fiorito' is a love song....to Florence, to Lauretta and to the possibilities of getting away from this crowd. Remember, he finds the will and does not hand it over easily.

GHERARDO Nice man. Henpecked but contentedly so. He has a low level job in a banking concern distantly related to the Medici. He is content with his life. He will cry after being cheated out of the Donati estate, but he will recover before anyone else.

NELLA The boss. An Italian woman of her time knows everything depends on money. You CAN buy everything. Gherardo is easy going and that's enough to make her nuts. He likes being bossed around by her so they are a devoted couple. The both dearly love Gherardino

GHERARDINO Is being schooled by the local frate when he bothers to show up. Adorable and crafty. A charmer.Completely unimpressed when his father spanks him.

SIMONE When the relatives say "Tu sei anche stato podesta a Fuccechio...You were once the mayor of Fuccechio, this is not a compliment because Fuccechio is a miserable slum outside Florence. He is the eldest chronologically but not the wisest. He's more rustic and even tho the eldest her remains physically strong. In my mind he has a wife living, ten children who survived-meaning about fifteen to twenty pregnancies-and a passel of grandchildren and they all live in the same house.

MARCO If he has so many siblings and he's here with Papa it might be that he's daddy's boy. The crown prince, to...whatever..especially without a share of the Donati estate. Let's say he's Simone's eldest child. Or the first to live to adulthood. He would be the only child who got the kind of attention parents give children today. Sons were made for procreation. Daughters to bring money into families through marriage.

LA CIESCA She's a cuddly one. She has some status as the wife of the favored son. Is she still living with her in laws and if so is she in competition with Marco's Mama? She's crazy mad in love with her husband, very unusual for the times. Do they have children? How many? Where are they?

(A married woman who is childless had no worth in medieval times. Terrible but true)

BETTO DI SIGNA The suffix di Signa means he is a property owned in Signa. He's Buoso's brother in law. How? Married to sister of is Buoso married to Betto's sister? Betto has a good business background. He is well aware of the worth of the estate, and its uses, if not sure how to acquire Buoso's money.

MAESTRO SPINELLOCCIO..literally "thorn in the eye"  As a very young doctor in Bologna he was the top dog. Ahead of his time. Handsome, successful, good with the ladies. In his mind all of this is still true, But the small healthy part of his mind realizes he's a Luddite. He is deaf, lame, and  was medically up to date in 1250. Buoso used him because Spinelloccio is cheap.

SER AMATIO  DI NICOLAO..Di Nicolao another property owner. In his day notaries were elected, meaning he has a good sense of his authority. He and Gubbio and Pinellino get weepy around "Buoso" because they are his contemporaries and know that they are likely to die next. They probably played cards together.


GIANNI SCHICCHI JUNE 15 and 16 JEWISH CENTER OF COLUMBUS presented by OPERA PROJECT COLUMBUS

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