The COC’s production of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi directed by Amy Lane is now available to watch for free, for the next six months, at coc.ca/watch . It’s given a 1950s Italian setting but otherwise it’s a pretty straightforward approach reliant on good ensemble directing and acting, which it gets. It’s livened up by video projections by Alexander Gunnarsson, which come over really very well on the film.
Besides a good ensemble, any Schicchi needs a strong singing actor in the title role. Here it’s Roland Wood and he is really very good with a solid baritone and good comedic timing. It also needs fine lyrical singing from the young lovers; Rinuccio and Lauretta. Here they are represented by tenor and local favourite Andrew Haji and Korean soprano Hera Hyesang Park. They are both excellent. Haji sings with a fine ringing tenor and is most affecting. Park has a lovely voice and makes a very convincing teenage girl. Both nail their big arias and their duet near the end. The other roles are largely played by Ensemble Studio members, past and present, and all are more than up to it. Throw in the COC orchestra in fine form and lively conducting from Jader Bignamini and one has a very enjoyable hour or so of opera.
The film is directed by Taylor Long and it’s well done. He’s not afraid to show the whole stage and its video backdrops but varies up the shots nicely without doing anything too distracting. Sound, and especially video, quality is exceptional, at least if you have an absolutely top notch internet connection. Trying to watch the general release premier was actually frustrating as we were getting a lot of break up. Investigation today revealed the cause. The default quality for the stream is 4k which is higher resolution than most people can display and tends to use more bandwidth than most people consistently enjoy. Fortunately resolution can be changed in the menu bar (the ‘cog’ item). I found 1080p to be perfectly stable and, of course, very high quality.