Woody Allen to direct Puccini opera

Filmmaker tackles lone comedy 'Schicchi'

Woody Allen will make his operatic directing debut in September 2008, helming Puccini’s lone comedy, “Gianni Schicchi.”

The production will be part of the Puccini “Il Trittico” tryptich of “Schicchi,” “Il Tabarro” and “Suor Angelica,” the latter two being directed by William Friedkin.

Placido Domingo, the Broad general director of the Los Angeles Opera, said he had approached Allen about four years ago.

“I’ve seduced many a film director into directing opera, starting with John Schlesinger and ‘The Tales of Hoffmann’ at London’s Covent Garden,” Domingo said in a statement. “I will admit that my pursuit of Woody takes the prize of the longest pursuit.”

Allen, too, issued a statement: “I have no idea what I am doing, but incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm.”

Allen was in Spain this week to scout locations for his next pic, which will be shot mostly in Barcelona. His most recently completed film, “Cassandra’s Dream,” received a secret screening in the town of Aviles on Monday. Pic will get its first official screening at the Venice Film Festival.

The Puccini production will open Sept. 6, 2008, and be followed the next day by L.A. Opera’s U.S. premiere of Howard Shore’s “The Fly,” directed by David Cronenberg

“Schicchi” is the only part of “Il Trittico” to have been staged by L.A. Opera. Friedkin directed the production when it was staged in 2002 and presented on a bill with Bartok’s “Duke Bluebeard’s Castle.” Set in medieval Florence, the opera depicts a farcical family squabble, as the survivors of a wealthy gentleman persuade Gianni Schicchi to pose as the deceased and rewrite his will in their favor.

Brit baritone Thomas Allen returns as Schicchi; soprano Laura Taulescu and tenor Samir Pirgu will make their company debuts as young lovers who hope that the rich man’s fortune will lead to their marriage.

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