An opera in one act Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi was composed to an Italian libretto by Giovacchino Forzano and based on an episode (Canto xxx, 1.32) in Dante’s Inferno. It was first performed at the Metropolitan, New York, in 1918.
The second opera included on this disc, Rachmaninov’s The Miserly Knight was composed to a libretto by the composer himself after one of the "Little Tragedies" by Alexander Pushkin. It was first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow in 1906.
The Miserly Knight
Albert, a knight, is preparing for a tournament. He asks his father, the Barron, to lend him money. Doubting Albert’s intent to participate in the tournament the Barron decides not to help his son. Angered Albert approaches a lender who also refuses to loan him the needed sum of money. He explains that Albert is unable to provide respectable collateral. Instead the lender offers Albert poison. He explains that Albert’s monetary problems can be solved quickly if his father, the Barron, died and he inherited his fortune. Albert is stunned. He cannot believe his ears.
Albert sends a letter to the Duke. In it he requests that the Duke speaks to the Barron and convinces him to open his coffers. The Duke agrees.
The Duke and the Barron discuss Albert’s request. The Barron accuses Albert in fratricide and announces that he will never lend him money. Having heard his father’s words Albert appears. Blinded by anger the Barron challenges him to a duel. The Duke is shocked and disgusted. He leaves. The Barron suddenly falls to his knees, suffocating. Shortly after he dies.