GIUSEPPE PENNISI reviews
the first performance
of Filippo Perocco's opera 'Aquagranda'
On 4 November 2016, the Venice Teatro La Fenice inaugurated the 2016-17 season with a world premiere on the very date of the fiftieth anniversary of a major flood which devastated several areas
of Italy. In the internationalmemory, the flood caused most damage in Florence, where the world-renowned Uffizi Museum was
full of mud. Several islands of the Venice archipelago were badly hit.
Most severely hurt was Pellestrina, now a well appreciated resort with an
important polo club, but then inhabited only by three
thousand fishermen including their families; almost all of them had to be
In my view, it is
important to start the season with a world premiere. It is a mean to
remind that music theatre is a live art which keeps in tune with actual developments.
It is also a way to stage works by youngcomposers and to attract a new audience, younger than that which normally fills opera houses. I think it is also quite meaningful to
celebrate past events with the commission of a new musical work rather than with memorial
speeches. La Fenice has a very interesting and rich season with seventeen premieres (four are brand
new operas) and seven repertory titles (ie ten performances of La Traviata).
Although the work is
called a 'drama in music in one act', the action as such is quite simple. During the opera's
eighty minutes, the scant plot revolves around a family that decides, under the influence of its patriarch, not to leave the island but
to brave the flood (on the roof of the house) until the weather improves
and the water returns to a normal level. In short, the opera is about the fight of men
against a natural disaster. By mere chance, its staging occurs at
a moment when central Italy is being tormented by earthquakes.
Seven singers were on stage: Andrea Mastroni as Fortunato
(the old and strongly willed fisherman), Mirko Guadagnini (as his son
Ernesto), Giulia Bolcato (as Ernesto's wife Lilli), Silvia Regazzo (as her friend Leda), Vincenzo Nizzardo (as Nane, a
fisherman), William Corrò (another fisherman) and Marcello Nardis as Cester, the carabiniere in service at
Pellestrina in the days of the flood. Vocally, declamato and Sprechgesang
dominate the score, even though there are duets and trios as well an aria by Lilli bordering on coloratura. Very interestingly, the chorus stands on both
sides of the stage on platforms reaching to the orchestra seats, the women on the left and the men on the right. They
comment on the events and also take part in them as Pellestrina's
populace. Their singing is quite classical (as in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex) and even goes back to
Gregorian style. Chorus master Claudio Marino Moretti does an
excellent job in providing the right balance.
I finally deal with the
stage direction. Michieleto and his team start by showing a
pond at the latter part of the stage; then the full stage is gradually
flooded with water from above the set and at curtain calls all the artists have to wear boots. No doubt, an impressive special effect. Few people in the audience noticed that Lilli and Leda's
costumes were rather high class, and did not look what fishermen's wives
wore in the sixties.