On Stage: One-Act Operas

Mar 25, 2019

While most one-act operas have a shorter running time than operas with two or more acts, there are exceptions, notably Wagner's Das Rheingold, which runs more than two-and-a-half hours, and Salome, by Strauss, which plays for almost two hours. 

On the other hand, Pagliacci by Leoncavallo is a two-act opera that runs slightly more than 60 minutes, and Monteverdi's five-act L'Orfeo, plays for about two hours. But for the most part, the one-act opera runs approximately 90 minutes, and usually the bill will include two one-acts for a full evening of entertainment.  

L'enfant et les Sortileges or The Child and the Spells: a Lyric Fantasy in Two Parts, includes music by Ravel, set to a libretto by Colette. Colette wrote the text in eight days, and while she was offered a variety of composers, the only choice that excited her was Ravel. This tale of a selfish child who learns to care about others was first performed in 1925 in Monte Carlo.

Gianni Schicchi by Puccini is a comic opera based on actual events and an historical figure who was also featured in Dante's Inferno. The Florentine 13th-century knight Schicchi is discovered by Dante in the Circle of Impersonators, where it is explained that Schicchi was condemned to Hell for impersonating the affluent Buoso Donati, and revising Donati's will to Schicchi's own advantage. The opera was considered a delight by most critics of the day.

Both one-act operas are on stage at Miller Concert Hall at Wichita State University, April 4 through April 7.