according to Salvatore Sciarrino,
heard by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
The National Academy of Saint
Cecilia is Italy's oldest musical institution. Its statute and by-laws were
approved in 1585 by the Pope (then governing Rome). It is also one of the most authoritative, being, along with La Scala, the only Italian musical institution to receive 'special treatment' — Government subsidies on a rolling three-year basis so that its program can be formulated well in advance. It is run by the
'Academicians': recently, a new and comparatively young chairman was elected, and Antonio Pappano agreed to serve as musical director at least until the end of 2019.
Its audience is, on average, quite mature, if not aged, and likes repertoire based on well-known composers from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, the
Academy is making an effort to attract younger generations by using a
vast gamut of devices. Among
these are commissions from contemporary
On 30 March 2015, I was at the third performance of a world premiere Euridice
(with Italian spelling) by Salvatore Sciarrino. This is a half-hour monodrama based on a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, the Prague-born poet with a Germaneducation. The poem is part of Rilke's cycle of sonnets on Orpheus. The monodrama is an Italian adaptation
(not a mere translation) of the original German text. As a matter of fact, the full title is La nuova Euridice secondo Rilke
('The New Eurydice according to Rilke').
Euridice is a
highly stylized monodrama with the very personal musical style of Salvatore Sciarrino which takes particular care
on vocalizing. It depicts the downfall of Orpheus due to his lack of
trust in Eurydice and in the gods. I found many points in common with Sciarrino's Lohengrin presented at La Piccola Scala in 1982.
The orchestra, under Pappano's baton, with Barbara Hannigan as soloist, were superb in providing the right tints. Much to my surprise, the audience was enthusiastic and asked for the complete cantata to be encored — a request
which couldn't be satisfied, also because the concert had a second part, very much in tone with Easter music: Bach's Magnificat with soloists Amanda Forsythe, José Maria Lo Monaco, Paolo Fanale and Christian Senn, with full chorus.