“The Divine Reality Comedy” by the Bread & Puppet Theater

the-divine-reality-comedy-by-the-bread-puppet-theater“A theatergoer’s heart could be forgiven for sinking upon learning that the production she was scheduled to see at Theater for the New City was a riff on Dante called ‘The Divine Reality Comedy’ and featured a ‘Born to Buy’ critique set in ‘Paradise.’ But that heart lifted upon hearing that Peter Schumann’s ragtag collective, the Bread and Puppet Theater, was the company undertaking said riff.” [. . .]    –Claudia La Rocco, The New York Times, December 1, 2007

Giacomo Puccini, “Gianni Schicchi” (1918)

giacomo-puccini-gianni-schicchiFrom the last scene in Gianni Schicchi, one of Puccini’s three operas comprising Il Trittico, recently performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. “Seeing the two lovers, he (Gianni Schicchi) is moved. He smiles, takes off his hat, and turns to address the audience in a spoken epilogue: ‘Tell me, gentlemen, if Buoso’s wealth could have gone to better ends than this? For this prank, I have been condemned to the Inferno, and so be it; but with all due respect to the great father Dante, if you have been amused, grant me extenuating circumstances!’ He makes a motion of applause and bows to the audience.'”    —Stanford

The other two operas in Il Trittico also have Divine Comedy themes: “Puccini’s last operas abandon realism. The Trittico rebuilds the old vertical, spiritual theater, encompassing all the gradations of nature. Puccini’s original plan was to make the panels episodes from Dante; though that didn’t happen, they still constitute a divine comedy. Il Tabarro is set in an urban inferno, Suor Angelica in a convent which serves as the heroine’s purgatory, Gianni Schicchi in a mercenary Florence which from the heights of Fiesole looks like a radiant paradise. Because Dante’s was a journey through the undiscovered country, all three works map Orphic voyages into the underworld.”    –Peter Conrad, Opera Info (retrieved on May 15, 2007)

See pzweifel for Tuscan sites connected with Gianni Schicchi (retrieved on May 15, 2007).

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

“Dante Beatrix”


Beatrix New York

Dante in Coney Island

dantes-inferno-coney-island“By Thursday, nearly 30 tractor-trailers had been loaded with classic Astroland rides and driven out. There was no sign of the Scrambler, the Tilt-a-Whirl or the Mini Tea Cup. Dante’s Inferno, a haunted house, stood empty and ravaged, looking more haunted than ever. The Pirate Ship was moored atop a flatbed truck, awaiting storage.” [. . .]    –David W. Dunlap and Ann Farmer, The New York Times, January 9, 2009

Photo by Marta Lwin, 2004