Mirrors of Time
Special concerts in Rome,
enjoyed by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
enjoyed by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
Teatro dell'Opera di Roma began a new initiative on 11 November 2015: six special concerts named Specchi del Tempo ('Mirrors of Time'), to be performed until 2 April 2016. Each concert has a single performance. Before reporting on the initiative for M&V, I intended to listen not only to the 11 November premiere but also to the second concert of the series on 10 January 2016. As we know, premieres are special events, not necessarily representative of the series.
L'Orchestra del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma's Specchi del Tempo is not in competition with the programmes of other symphony orchestras in Rome. First of all, the setting is unusual because, as the photos show, the orchestra is on a special stage in the stalls section of the theatre; this provides for interesting stereophonic sound. Then, each concert is made up of three parts, each from a different century; a basic concept is shown in its development through the three centuries to show how music has embedded into society mirrors of the time when it was composed. At the start of each concert, a musicologist or music historian explains the concept of the concert. Finally, a pricing policy has been established to make it possible for youngsters, retired people and others on low income to see this late nineteenth century theatre with its art nouveau decoration and its gilded stuccos in the rows of boxes. Specchi del Tempo is part of a broader plan to renew the audience — Opera Aperta or 'Open Opera House'. It includes a festival of contemporary musical theatre later in the Spring.
Both concerts were sold out: the theatre has over two thousand seats. The audience was mostly young, even though some ordinary clients of the Teatro dell'Opera and retirees were also present.
The first concert, with Cédric Tiberghien, was conducted by Dietrich Paredes. They are young but quite well known in the major international concert halls. The unifying theme was 'awakening'. The first piece (by Emanueale Casale) is called Esercizi del Risveglio ('Exercises in Awakening') and thus tightly close to the theme. The Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven is an eighteenth century work as delicate as a lace, composed well before Beethoven embraced romanticism. Finally, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 5 is a late romantic awakening, troubled with deep anguish.
The 10 January concert featured the young Argentine conductor Alejo Pérez and the French pianist François-Frédéric Guy.
The theme was happiness. It included Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 3, which could almost be by Mozart, Metastaseis by Iannis Xenakis — a real outburst of strings, each with a different score — and Prokofiev's Symphony No 5, composed in 1944 to celebrate the Russian victory at Stalingrad.
Alejo Pérez and François-Frédéric Guy gave a romantic touch to the Beethoven concerto, and the audience was enthralled by the Xenakis and Prokofiev.