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Rossini Opera Festival 2013
by Gioachino Rossini

Pesaro, Adriatic Arena.

This text focuses mainly on the aspects of staging, directing and musical direction, rather than on the individual performances of the leading roles. It should be noted, however, that the high technical-vocal standard and the wonderful performances as actors of all interpreters are deal for great admiration for us. Absolutely noteworthy performances of Marina REBEKA (Mathilde), Juan Diego Flórez (Arnold), Nicola ALAIMO (Tell).

Let's start from the overture.

The introduction with the cellos. The beautiful melody of the cellos and violas accompanied by the rest of the strings punctuated here and there by turbulences of the kettledrums. The transition with the tweets of the winds and the buzzing of the strings leads to a first explosion of the orchestra. The other beautiful melody follows, this time starring the woods, accompanied by pizzicato strings. All wonderful, the right timing, pronunciation, articulation, an excellent orchestra, single musicians and together as well. Thanks also the conductor, Maestro Michele Mariotti. There is correspondence, there is understanding. The chair welcomes us ... it promises to be a memorable show.

Here is the famous ride! A white light gradually rises and opens us to the story.

Scenography is an extremely essential stage, a halcyon white prevails there. A sign stands high up on the wall to the right: "EX TERRA OMNIA", "all things come from the earth." An angular perspective with two vanishing points pierces the fourth wall and goes to stab on the ceiling in the center of the auditorium. Two mounting lights follow the lines and converge also at the center of the ceiling, right above the audience. The rooms are built through cracks, openings, rectangular spaces with lines strictly directing to the vanishing points.

Everything is harmonious, everything is simple and elegant – thanks also to the lighting design by Giuseppe Di Iorio.

What always surprises, in a Graham Vick's direction, is its ability in time shifting. It seems he got a "time machine"! You know, those gimmicks full of levers, wheels, gears, which we have used some science fiction literature between nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The British director has the talent - rare! - to transport the contents of an opera (music and lyrics) from one era to another without unacceptable distortion or intolerable iconoclasms, as in the case of other directors on the international circuit. It almost seems that he makes balancing exercises to keep the tension on the rope. A very safe hand is perceived. A man who has had plenty of experience and now reaps the rewards.

In setting up the Moses in Egypt in 2011 he carried the story of the biblical hero in the Third Millennium!


This time his prodigious "machine" has transferred the events and characters of the Swiss Legend from the fourteenth century to the dawn of the twentieth century.

Of course, some voices of detractors feel here and there, but generally appear as physiological, and are, always, invariably, buried by cheers, applause, and other manifestations of a total satisfaction.

In this exhibition also the curtain becomes a vehicle for messages. The exposition of a clenched fist (white) on a red background welcomes us and introduces us to the historical and cultural mood of the show.

The theme of the oppressed people is a clearly congenial theme to our director; it is matched here, surprisingly, to the historical incarnations of real socialism. For all the work – four acts , five hours! – You can breathe the air of a revolution, the October Revolution! Several elements of the staging seem to move towards this direction: red flags, inscriptions scribbled with red paint, props: cameras clearly from early cinema, and costumes that recall the iconography of Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century; not surprisingly, a land where the first theories on the Seventh Art were born – remarkable work made by Paul Brown. The role played by cinema in this staging of Rossini's Tell is very important and, in part, also said. In the press conference Vick cited, among his sources of inspiration, two films: "Novecento" by Bernardo Bertolucci and "L'albero degli zoccoli" by Ermanno Olmi.

Two dolly equipped with cameras are constantly moving to the sides of the proscenium, and will continue to do so throughout the duration of the work. Disturbing presence, an epiphany of power. A wonderful solution that enriches and complicates further the viewing ways.

The cameras are operated by soldiers. They appear tools for the celebration of power, and tools of oppression and control as well.

At the end of an authentic piece of film on the scene! Projected onto the scene, with an aspect ratio of 4:3, what is the memory of Arnold when, as a child, thanks to the teaching of the peasant father, learns to love the land. I imagine there's been a mini production, a work plan, shooting, editing! an insert in the body of the work! A tribute to the cinema, to the early cinema! But it is also, in my view, an attempt to interpenetration between the two arts, opera and cinema, belonging to two different eras, the era of the aura and the age of mechanical reproduction, according to the fundamental distinction made by Walter Benjamin in the last century. technical tests of integration, it seems. The cinema is still young. He recently passed the one hundred years. Who knows what the future holds ...

The choreography is very accurate and extremely original. The dancers are very good. It is recognized here and there, the lesson of the unforgettable Pina Bausch, that Ron Howell, the choreographer, has been able to collect.

The choruses are a total delight in/for all the senses. And Mariotti offers them all, thanks also the comfort with the Teatro Comunale of Bologna and with Andrea Faidutti, choirmaster.

In the end a triangle is cut out from the ceiling and slowly descends down towards the stage, while the triads of horns and harps begin to spread throughout the room. It's a ladder. Red. The son ascends! Powerful image! Red flags waving in the cry of "Liberté". Quite unexpectedly, an audience of a modern movie theater (I would be surprised if it was not) appeared on the back of the stage and watch the show, just as we are doing... but... a moment... we ourselves, a mirror of ourselves! Here's the perceptive levels are increasing, with a combinational logic. And above all, the music of the genius of Pesaro, made pregnant with ever new meanings. Vertiginous!

Donato DI PASQUALE © 2013