On 15th June at Teatro Goldoni, in Florence, the new opera by Marco Betta’s Natura viva will be premiered as part of the 73rd Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (commmissioner of the work). The opera, the libretto of which is by Ruggero Cappuccio, also in charge as stage director, highlights Chiara Muti in the main role. Scenery is by Nicola Rubertelli, costumes by Salvatore Salzano, video project by Ciro Pellegrino and Nadia Baldi. The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra will be conducted by Aldo Sisillo. Additional performance on 17th June.
“Natura viva is a story of states and moments lived, perceived and imagined. The marvellous poetry and metaphysical architecture of Ruggero Cappuccio’s libretto captivated me immediately; departing from the text, I imagined a music that, in correspondence with the literary and theatrical narration, might evoke and trace out the strata and levels of dimensions parallel and not. I sought to delve into the underlying sense and the sound of the words, endeavouring to offer an account of my own land, my personal experiences, the paths I have pursued in the world of music. By a very happy coincidence Natura viva came into being in Florence, the city in which I studied in the years between 1987 and 1990 attending Armando Gentilucci’s courses at the G.A.M.O. Florence was also the place where I began my career as a composer, with the performances of my first chamber music compositions and my first orchestral work Senti l’eco. Natura viva is an extension of the musical path that began with Sette storie per lasciare il mondo, a work for music and film realised together with Roberto Andò in 2006, in which recitation and singing are bound together in a single fresco. The music for Natura viva arises out of the remains and fragments of the scenic music I wrote for Ruggero Cappuccio’s work Paolo Borsellino essendo stato. The use of the chamber orchestra represents a kind of stylistic exercise in and homage to the chamber music tradition of the end of last century thinking in particular of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, inspired by Henry James. In Natura viva six women govern over the spirit of history: the protagonist, Luce, is a reciting voice with free sections in which the text becomes a kind of hourglass that defines the open instrumental forms; three sopranos, Beatrice, Greca and Rosarìa, and two mezzo-sopranos, Santa and Hairà, make up the vocal cast. The singing parts blend in and overlap with the recitation: at times there emerge songs and lullabies in which the singers recover the tradition of the folk song and the opera aria; at other times there surface the remains of madrigals and hypotheses of the choral music of Greek tragedy. The music becomes a lake in which the sense and the sound of the words echoes out, a kind of seashell through which to listen to the mental rhythm of the reading of the text, a mirror in which to make out our own profile. In every artistic representation we try to find traces and signs in which we are able to recognise and take cognisance of things, situations and ideas which belong to us, which represent us, which stand for us. Listeners, interpreters and composers all live on the banks of the same river. Composing an opera is a bit like making one’s way through contrasting gusts of wind: music and text must come together in such a way as to give life to a single current, a unique flow of elements that melt together and give life to musical theatre. The city of Palermo in the opera is for me a labyrinth and an emotional perimeter, thoughts, fragments of life lived, wounds, signs that mix with the idea of the light, of the architecture, of the sea that cannot be seen and which will never be reached. The Palermo of mine in the opera is a container of memories and shadows from whose walls emanate sounds of ancient cultures. A symbolic and ethereal work, Natura viva reflects and represents three apparitions of death - for justice, for art and for love - through the materialisation of the shadows of the mind of Luce, the central character of the opera who gives birth to the images of her own visions, evoking Borsellino, Caravaggio and herself as if in a theatre of figures, thoughts, dreams. The music brings together material that has marked my musical development right from the beginning: fragments of Sicilian carters’ songs, tetrachord structures imagined as memories of the ancient music of the Greek tragedies, fragments of madrigals, ancient lines of folk songs suspended between the vocal melisma of Mediterranean musical cultures and the luminous melodies of Vincenzo Bellini, remains and fragments of serial counterpoint, echoes of structures and harmonic agglomerations of the classical period that fluctuate like apparitions. I have also tried to recover the signs that have influenced me and that have made it possible for me to compose my musical stories: the evolutions and the skies of my teacher Eliodoro Sollima, Armando Gentilucci’s waves and lights, the silences and the winds of Salvatore Sciarrino, Bruno Maderna’s sea and horizon, the calligraphy, the rivers and the watermarks of Francesco Pennisi and Toru Takemitsu.”