Law and Opera pp 241-250 | Cite as

Music and Law: Law in Lyrical Operas. Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini. The Harmony of the System

  • Maria Teresa SanzaEmail author


Just like in case of dramas, novels and works of art in general, music can be used to nourish that living and experimental law that, in a given context, is effectively in force.

From the point of view of the content of their libretto, lyrical operas are very interesting for the study of law in literature, but the music of lyrical operas takes preeminence and importance due to its emotional strength and expressive power.

The matter, as Roberto Vacca states in his Diritto Sperimentale, is alive and close to reality, and in lyrical operas there is no escape for sociological, psychological and moral observations that can escape a jurist’s or a law philosopher’s attention. Law often dominates on the opera stage and fascinates due to its capacity to inoculate that artist’s knowledge that colours itself with juridical elements: the opera raises the curtain to the world of law and lets it venture in its own extraordinary world. This paper is based on the analysis of Gianni Schicchi by G. Puccini, the last panel of the triptyque which includes Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica.

The succession law is often the subject matter of narrative or drama works: Gianni Schicchi deals with the theme of Buoso Donati’s opening of succession, the episode cited by Dante Alighieri in The Divine Comedy, in canto XXX of Inferno. It belongs to the Italian opera buffa genre and was first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on 14 December 1918 and was an immediate success. The source is a short episode in which the protagonist is instructing a false will. The work outlines with great precision the climate and environment of the Medieval Florence: the references to the succession law make it possible to carry out a historical comparative analysis with the entities currently in force. The writing theme aptly conveys semantic meanings that perfectly match the score which deals with the theme of human greed that contrasts both macabre and necessary call for a punishment according to the law.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SalernoSalernoItaly

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