- Julian Budden
Dramma lirico in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to a libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni after Carlo Gozzi’s dramatic fairy-tale; Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 25 April 1926.
The notion of basing an opera on Gozzi’s most celebrated fiaba (fairy-tale) – one that should ‘modernize and bring human warmth to the old cardboard figures’ – arose during a meeting in Milan between Puccini, Adami and Simoni in winter 1919–20. Adami supplied the composer with a copy of Schiller’s adaptation of the play in the Italian translation of Andrea Maffei. Puccini returned it to him with the instruction to make it the basis of the libretto, adding ‘but on it you must rear another figure; I mean – I can’t explain!’ (clearly he was groping his way towards the conception of the slave-girl Liù). His first instinct was to exclude Gozzi’s ‘masks’ but almost immediately afterwards he wrote: ‘It is just possible that by retaining them ...