Skip To Content
We’ve Taken Down the Forward Paywall: An Open Letter to Our ReadersRead Now
Israel News

Woody Allen Goes to the Opera

Woody Allen’s enormous film oeuvre is many things, but “operatic” is probably not among them. So, critics have been tickled by their own conclusion that Allen’s new production of a Puccini opera isn’t half bad.

“Gianni Schicchi,” the tale of a swindler who impersonates the deceased Buoso Donati in order to change the dead man’s will, is now playing at Los Angeles Opera, along with the other two one-act operas that make up Puccini’s “Il Trittico” trilogy. (Another film director, William Friedkin, was put in charge of “Il Tabarro” and “Suor Angelica.”)

Allen’s take on “Gianni Schicchi” channels “the backstreets of post-war Naples more than the medieval Florence of the libretto,” the Daily Telegraph of London’s Rupert Christiansen writes. Like other reviewers, Christiansen was mostly a fan but objected to Allen’s choices at the beginning and end of the opera: It “gets off to a ghastly start” when credits roll for fake Italian actors, like “Oriana Fellatio,” and it departs from Puccini’s ending by killing off Schicchi, the opera’s anti-hero. (Leave it to Allen to put a sour spin on opera buffa.)

But “it was great to hear an audience laughing and applauding with such unaffected enthusiasm,” Christiansen writes, while Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed effuses, “A production of genius, his ‘Gianni Schicchi’ is a riot.” Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times calls it “a cleverly updated and inventive staging.”

Not a bad side gig for a director who recently told Minneapolis’s Star Tribune that, having set his past few movies in England and Spain, he finally has become what he always wanted to be: “a foreign filmmaker.”


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.