Place: Florence Time: As Buoso Donati lies dead in his curtained four-poster bed, his relatives gather round to mourn his passing, but are really more interested in learning the contents of his will. Betto mentions a rumour he has heard that Buoso has left everything to a monastery; this disturbs the others and precipitates a frantic search for the will. The document is found by Rinuccio, who is confident that his uncle has left him plenty of money.
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Stage left, facing the audience, the main entrance; beyond, the landing and staircase; then, a large French window giving access to the terrace which surrounds the front of the house. The terrace has a wooden banister.
Along the right-hand wall, a narrow wooden staircase leads up to a small balcony. A chest of drawers and a door in the gallery. Under the stairs, another small door. Rear right, the bed. Chairs, chests, coffers are scattered here and there. A table bearing silverware. At the four corners of the bed, four tall candlesticks with four lighted candles. Through the half-open bed-curtains can be seen a red silk drapery covering a body. Gherardino is seated on the floor to the left and near the wall, his back to the other relatives, intent on playing marbles.
There is sunshine and the glow of candles. The relatives of Buoso murmur a prayer, while Marco, old Zita and Ciesca sob loudly. Zita Povero Buoso! Simone Povero cugino! Rinuccio Povero zio!
Ciesca, Marco Oh! Nella, Gherardo Buoso! Betto O cognato! He is interrupted by Gherardino letting a chair drop to the floor with a crash, and the relatives, with the excuse of quieting Gherardino, silence Betto.
Nella Giorni? Per mesi! Nella Mesi? Per anni ed anni! Ciesca, Marco Povero Buoso! Gherardino goes to the old woman; she pushes him away, annoyed. Zita Portatecelo voi, Gherardino, via! Gherardo gets up, takes the boy by the hand, and dragging him along, takes him away through the small door at left.
Buoso, Buoso, tutta la vita piangeremo la tua dipartita! Ciesca Piangerem Rinuccio Piangerem! Zita Buoso! Ciesca tutta la vita! Nella Ma come? Betto Lo dicono a Signa.
Rinuccio bending over to Nella, in a lamenting tone Che dicono a Signa? Rinuccio Giaaa?! Ciesca bending over to Betto, in a lamenting tone Che dicono a Signa? Betto whispers to Ciesca Si dice che Ciesca loudly in her natural voice Noooo!? Marco, lo senti che dicono a Signa? Si dice che Zita in a lamenting tone Ma in somma possiamo sopere Zita che diamine dicono a Signa? Betto Ci son delle voci Diranno: pancia mia, fatti capanna!
Simone getting up to listen with the others Ma che?!?! Chi lo dice? Simone Lo dicono a Signa???? Though still kneeling, the relatives now keep their bodies erect Gherardo O Simone? Ciesca Simone? Zita Che ne pensi? Marco Che ne pensi? All jump to their feet Rinuccio O Lauretta, amore mio, speriam nel testamento dello zio!
Gherardo comes back alone and joins Nella in a feverish search. Betto notices a silver tray bearing on top a silver seal and silver scissors. Cautiously he stretches his hand towards the tray, but is disturbed by a false alarm from Simone. Simone scanning a parchment more closely Ah! All turn round. Betto has an innocent look on his face. The search starts again. Betto grabs the seal and scissors; he rubs them hard on the cloth of his sleeve after first breathing hard upon them several times.
He examines them critically and puts them in his pocket. He is now slowly pulling the tray toward himself, but an exclamation from the old woman makes them all turn around. Zita scanning the parchment more closely Ah! The relatives, in a frenzy, not knowing where to look, turn over everything in the room, rummage in the boxes and chests etc.
The air is full of flying papers. Betto, profiting by the confusion, grabs the tray and puts it under his coat, holding it tightly in place with his arm.
Rinuccio, who is mounted on a chest of drawers, on top of a ladder, succeeds in opening it. Zita, Ciesca, Nella No! Gherardo Dove sia?
Marco Dove sia? Simone, Betto No! All rush toward him with outstretched hands to grab the will, but Rinuccio, holding the parchment tightly in his left hand, raises his right to stop the avalanche of relatives. Rinuccio Il testamento di Buoso Donati! Come compenso, dimmi se lo zio, povero zio! Rinuccio insistently Potrei sposarla per Calendimaggio!
Marco, Gherardo Qui, presto il testamento! Ciesca Lo vedi che si sta colle spine sotto i piedi? Rinuccio hands the will to the old woman Zia! Zita goes to the table ands sits down; the relatives follow and wait. Zita looks for the scissors to cut the ribbon round the roll, but cannot find them.
She looks around scanning the faces of the other relatives. Zita tears the ribbon off with her fingers. She unrolls the parchment from which a second roll appears containing the will. Rinuccio Ah! Gherardino rushes out Zita reading "Ai miei cugini Zita e Simone! Simone Tutta la cera tu devi avere! Povero Buoso! Zita, Marco E i mulini di Signa! Ciesca, Gherardo E i mulini di Signa! Nella, Marco Poi la mula! Simone La mula e i mulini di Signa! Ciesca, Gherardo I mulini di Signa!
Zita Zitti! The old woman stands in the center with the will in her hand: all the relatives press tightly around her. Marco and Betto have climbed on a chair to see better.
They read silently, mouthing the words. Suddenly a cloud overshadows all their faces, and they gradually take on a tragic look. The old woman sinks in a chair, letting the will fall to the ground.
Wealthy Buoso Donati has just died, and his relatives are vying to express the most grief. The weeping and wailing soon give way to alarm, however, as poor relation Betto starts to spread the news that he has heard a rumour in town that Donati left his considerable wealth to a monastery. A frantic search begins. Zita says he may marry anybody he wishes, as long as the will leaves them all well off. Rinuccio sends little Gherardino to find Gianni Schicchi and Lauretta.
Gianni Schicchi Libretto