“O mio babbino caro” is from Gianni Schicchi, a comic opera by Giacomo Puccini. Gianni Schicchi is a one act opera that premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York as part of Il trittico. (Il tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi). Puccini was not able to attend the 1918 premiere in New York as he was advised that ocean travel was still too risky, even though World War I had ended a month before the scheduled opening night. So that Puccini could share in the success of the premiere, the Met’s General Manager Giulio Gatti-Casazza sent a telegram to Puccini after the performance of Il Trittico:

“Most happy to announce the complete authentic success of the Trittico. At the end of each opera long very sincere demonstrations, more than forty warm curtain calls altogether. In spite of public notice forbidding encores by insistence Lauretta’s aria was repeated.”

The opera is set in Florence, Italy, in the late 13th century. The family of the recently deceased Buoso Donati is horrified to learn that he has left his fortune to a monastery. The wily Gianni Schicchi is quickly summoned and, at the insistence of his daughter Lauretta, pretends to be Donati. A notary is summoned and, imitating the ailing Donati, Schicchi writes a fresh will, bequeathing most of Donati’s property to himself. Cheeky Cheeky!

The plot was inspired by real events and a brief passage of Dante’s Inferno, where Dante describes the wily rogue who cheated the poet’s own relatives out of a considerable fortune. Dante married Gemma Donati and this betrothal could have led him to be more sympathetic to the Donati side of events.

A little bit about Lauretta…

The libretto suggests that Lauretta is 21, the daughter of Gianni Schicchi. Together they have moved from the country to Florence and are deemed by Donati’s relatives as peasants and boorish newcomers. This prejudice becomes an immediate issue as Rinnuccio and Lauretta have fallen in love. Rinnuccio is 24 years old and is a relative of Donati, (he is the nephew of Zita, who is a cousin of Donati). Zita will not let the pair marry because she thinks that Lauretta is not worthy to marry into their family due to her social standing and because she does not have a dowry. Zita doesn’t hold this opinion to herself but declares it in front of Gianni Schicchi and Lauretta. This act of insolence insults Schicchi who now refuses to help the family. However, Lauretta sings “O Mio Babbino Caro” and pleads with her father to stay, as she loves Rinuccio so deeply and life without him would be torture.

If you want to watch a full performance of Gianni Schicchi, you can see it for £3.00 via the Royal Opera House’s website until 7th March. For your £3.00 you can access the full Il Trittico, which means you get three short Puccini operas in 1!

30 thoughts on “O Mio Babbino Caro

  1. Forgive my ignorance, but the ‘lyrics’ to this, not for the first time, seem very brief Is this a common thing among operatic songs? Because, and I’m not trying to compare myself here, though it looks like it, when i used to write lyrics for songs i was incapable of translating into music, practically everything I wrote went further than this? Asking for enlightenment.

    1. That’s a great question Martin. The amount of lyrics changes from piece to piece. This song is considered an aria. In opera the ‘aria’ is an emotional outpouring. It can be to celebrate happiness, love or to wish for vengeance. As a result there tends to be more repetition of words so that it can expressed and then developed through melodic/harmonic ideas to show emotional changes. (Shock/exclamation/Rejection/Acceptance…)

      Normally there is more text in the ‘recitative’ which is like a sung conversation. In these moments the plot is progressing. The listener is being given the facts of the story.

      In popular music you see the lyrics tend to be split into verse chorus verse chorus. This is called AB structure. The A represents the verse and the B represents the chorus. This means that although the lyrics change for the verses it’s often the same tune repeating. You do see this in classical musical in songs too. If you listen to a Schubert song such as die Forelle, because the song needs to tell the full story, (the full opera), there tends to be more text.

      So perhaps a pattern is that the amount of lyrics is dependent on how much story progression is needed to take place in the song.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte 😊

    1. Thank you Holly, its a nice little project to concentrate on at the moment putting my handwritten notes I made when I was learning the arias and songs in a written record. I’m really glad you’re enjoying them.
      Best wishes

    1. All those festivals hehe. It’s a lot easier to sing it now, I’m constantly working on these old repertoire arias trying to improve them.
      All my best wishes

    1. It is such a well known aria and people have their favourite versions every year I revisit it to use new technique I’ve learnt.
      Best wishes

  2. What a lovely photo of you and your Dad! I’ve just spent an enjoyable time catching up on your recent blogs. I know I’ve said it before, but your positive attitude is so inspiring, and you are making the most of what could otherwise be such a dismal time. All your renditions are superb.
    Also, I occasionally listen to your version of Ave Maria – it is THE best in my opinion. I probably told you before, but I have my funeral music all sorted LOL (not imminent in my opinion) and Ave Maria is up first for my classical side, then Jimi Hendrix ‘All Along the Watchtower’ for my head-banger side, and Blood, Sweat & Tears ‘And When I Die’ for my philosophical side. Should be a hoot – almost wish I could be there.
    I hope they play your version of Ave Maria :-).

    1. It’s one of my favourite photographs from my first graduation day from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I was told last week by a good friend that it is quite funny that I have a natural reaction to try to spin a way out of problems and look for solutions.
      I actually recorded the version of Ave Maria for my Grandma’s funeral which was five years ago in April. I had learnt the Ave Maria by Caccini previously and learnt the Schubert version quickly at my families request, there are actually nine versions that I know of. I like your choice of songs and that you’d prefer a celebration but hopefully it is a very long way off. I’d be honoured to have my version play.
      All my best wishes always,
      Charlotte ♥️

    1. It’s a lovely photo from my graduation day in Glasgow. I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts about the songs and arias, it’s forcing me to get out all my moleskin notebooks and type up my old research. I had planned to put all the details in an online database but never got around to it.
      Best wishes always,

    1. Merci Pascal. It is the one thing I miss most about living in London we are a very close family and I don’t get to see my parents and my youngest brother Tom very often now. I’ve enjoyed putting all my bits of research together to try to create interesting blog posts and glad you’re enjoying them.
      Best wishes always to you my friend,

  3. It is terrific seeing you with a member of your family again and that is a great story.
    Frankly I’ve been wrapped up in listening to your album during the day, it actually helps to keep me active.

    1. Aww that makes me happy GP, I miss seeing my parents it made me happy looking through my photos of my Dad on Sunday afternoon. I’m chuffed you’re enjoying our album and I hope these little posts help you to enjoy the stories behind the songs.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte ♥️

      1. They most certainly do. Bambino was such an original idea. If it wasn’t for Covid, I know you would be steadily busy doing that opera!!

    1. Thanks for the tip Sheila I’ll try to figure out how to do it. George and I are going to use the money to pay for duo coaching lessons as soon as things open back up again, we have some new repertoire we would like to get advice on.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte 💕

  4. For some reason, I never thought an Opera would tell a Story like this. ..but the more I read Charlotte’s posts, the more I realize the human experience is the same no matter which country you’re from.

  5. I can hardly wait for this stupid pandemic to be over.
    You are the next sensation the opera world is looking for. On top of that, none will equal your beauty…the total package… voice, dramatic/comedic expression and physical appearance.


  6. That is a lovely photo of you and your father, Charlotte! Thank you for the lovely music, and the story behind it. You are a beautiful person, too!

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