O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi by Puccini is used in the Merchant Ivory 1985 production of Room with a View starring Helena Bonham Carter and Julian Sands as the two lovers Lucy and George. It is sung in the film soundtrack by Kiri te Kanawa. It is used at the beginning of the film in the title credits and when Lucy and George first see each other. It is also used at the end when they are married and back in Florence again. Below I will discuss why I think it was used in this production and what it could mean.
In this aria Lauretta is pleading with her father Gianni Schicchi to read her lovers uncle’s will so he can have enough money for them to get married. She then threatens that if he does not do this that she will drown herself in the Arno. Now I generally think this song is used in the film because like Lauretta and her lover Rinuccio Lucy and George are held back by class but not by money. In Room with a View George is not poor but is lower middle class, from a socialist background and behaves unconventionally. This is in that he is not emotionally restrained and believes in equality between men and women and therefore is not seen as appropriate husband material for Lucy.
Instead Lucy’s snooty, culture obsessed and wealthy fiancé Cecil is seen as more suitable for Lucy even though he is a pompous bore. However George adores her and she clearly feels the same way even though she denies her feelings for him for most of the film. I also think this song is used as both the opera and film are set in Florence.
I think the music is placed at the beginning when she first sees George to show that they will be lovers. However with the lyrics meaning this shows how there will be obstacles to their union. Also perhaps that they will have to fight to be together like Lauretta and Rinuccio. I think the use of the aria at the end of the film creates a bittersweet feeling. It shows Lucy and George happy together. In contrast her cousin Charlotte who helped them get together is alone in bed reading a letter from Lucy. Then she turns out her light. Therefore thus this could show how Charlotte threw away love which Lucy almost did because of class and of society’s expectations. This connecting to Lauretta threatening to throw herself into the Arno. However unlike Lucy and Lauretta she will always be alone and regretting her past but happy with her actions towards George and Lucy. This is because she originally opposed their relationship but saw Lucy behaving like she did and did not want the same thing to happen to her.