Modernizing Monteverdi and Mozart in M&V 16 November 2017
Modernizing Monteverdi and Mozart
two very different performances
On 11 and 12 November 2017, I saw and heard two different attempts — with different objectives
and different outcomes — to 'modernize' Monteverdi and Mozart. The former was staged in the Teatro Palladio — an elegant structure
built in the nineteen thirties in what used to be a low cost residential
area of Rome. The latter in the huge Teatro Olimpico on the bank of the Tiber.
Fighting is a one hour opera by three composers: Giorgio Battistelli (born in 1953), Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) and Claudio Ambrosini
(born in 1948). The opera was the inaugural event of the fifty fourth
Nuova Consonanza Festival. Nuova Consonanza is one of the most active
experimental music associations in Rome; this 2017 festival includes
twenty one concerts, all with new compositions.
In Fighting, a number for two
percussionists by Giorgio Battistelli — Orazi e Curiazi, composed in 1996 — is merged with the well known Monteverdi Combattimento
di Tancredi e Clorinda (composed in 1624), which is followed by
Ambrosini's Tancredi appresso il combattimento —
commissioned by the festival, and thus commissioned in 2017. The merger
is perfect: Battistelli's percussion piece creates the atmosphere of the battle, Monteverdi's Combattimento describes
the fight. Ambrosini's conclusion is about Tancredi's desperate love for
Clorinda, whom he killed in the fight.
The stage direction by Cesare Scarton, the
three singers — Sabrina Cortese, Daniele Adriani and Roberto Abbondanza —
and the two ensembles — Tetraktis Percussioni and Ensemble in Canto —
help to create a very sophisticated short opera. It is not a collage or
pastiche, as was used in baroque times, but a fully integrated opera
where the listener does not feel the differences in time and culture
between the three composers. The sophisticated Nuova Consonanza audience
was enthralled. In fact Fighting is a masterpiece which
deserves to tour through Italy and abroad as well as to be recorded on CD and DVD.
secondo l'orchestra di Piazza
Vittorio was totally different. Albeit in the center of Rome, Piazza Vittorio is a multi-ethnic area
where Italians are in a distinct minority, The multi-ethnic orchestra, founded
by Mario Tronco, started in 2002. Since then, it has adapted three operas to its own style: The Magic Flute, Carmen and now Don
Giovanni. Produced by the Accademia Filarmomica Romana, Don
Giovanni had its debut in Lyon at Festival Les nuits de
Fourvière on 13 June 2017, and was an instant success in France.
This is not a new production of Mozart's
masterpiece in the proper sense. While Da Ponte's libretto is broadly followed and some
of the major arias or ensemble pieces are sung, Don Giovanni
secondo l'orchestra di Piazza Vittorio is an adaptation of the
opera to a musical comedy. The orchestra is the jazz band and the musicians also sing and dance. Don Giovanni is not a baritone but a coloratura soprano (Petra
Magoni) and behaves like Cab Collaway in a 1920s music club. The singers
come from different countries and often sing in their own languages
— Italian, French, Portuguese and Arabic; the surtitles are in Italian and follow Da Ponte's text.
The performance lasts ninety minutes
without intermission. It is not quite a parody of the opera, but there is
a lot of irony. The intention is clearly to entertain. Judging by the
laughs and the applauses, the audience certainly had a lot of fun. At
this round some fifteen performances are scheduled. Most are sold out. A
revival is possible later in the year.