Ouverture Alcina

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Occhio Ouverture

Alcina:  Ermanna Montanari
music: Luigi Ceccarelli

text: Nevio Spadoni
devised by Ermanna Montanari and Marco Martinelli
space, lightings, director:  Marco Martinelli
stage technician: Danilo Maniscalco and  Luca Fagioli
production: Teatro delle Albe - Ravenna Teatro, Ravenna Festival

Debut Magfest, Pescara, april 5 2009

Press reviews (original, pdf file 3710 Kb)
High resolution pictures (zip file 9545 Kb)

At the beginning of the last century two sisters lived in a village in the Romagna countryside not far from Ravenna. The younger was her father’s favourite and he called her “the princess” while the elder was called Alcina: being an enthusiastic reader of Orlando furioso he had named her after the sorceress in the poem who seduces knights and then abandons them, transforming them into dogs, pigs or trees. One day their father left them and nothing more was heard of him. They inherited his job, becoming keepers of the dogs’ home in the heart of the village. One day a young foreigner arrived, said to be extremely handsome. The “princess” fell madly in love with him They were together for some months and then he left as he’d come. And the “princess” went mad. So Alcina decided to stay and look after her sister, closed up in that house which they left only to go and feed the dogs. People said that Alcina, unbeknownst to her sister, had also taken her pleasure with the young foreigner. In Ludovico Ariosto’s renaissance poem Alcina loses all her enchantress’s powers, her ability to seduce and transform men, when she falls in love with Ruggiero. Abandoned by the knight, she is reduced to a tormenting and incurable punishment. She would like to die but cannot because, as Ariosto says, "fairies can never die".
Ouverture Alcina is the superimposing of theses two stories that are linked by the idle turning of amorous fixation. We asked Nevio Spadoni, a poet who writes in Romagnol, to create the canto for our Alcina petrified in pain, lament and malediction, a wild and mysterious language to most ears. And Luigi Ceccarelli, a composer of electro-acoustic music, was asked for a score that could give form to the interior earthquake that rends the sorceress.
Ouverture Alcina is a battle between the power of the voice and of music, an alchemy that draws the figure of the love-wounded sorceress in her iconic immobility, a ghost that howls an untreatable pain. A “canto” in Romagnol dialect, an “ultra-local” language, harsh and archaic, which makes a strongpoint, objective music, of its own incommunicability. The sorceress is alone on stage, moves in the dark, here and there crossed by flashes of light which show her aching body, like that of a butoh dancer, within a sound space orchestrated live by the composer himself. What springs forth is a concert-performance where voice and music form the same stage material. No action, no drama: only the wandering of a vagabond voice, a fabulatory vision in which you can get lost, as in the wrench of dreams.
The term "ouverture" or overture is employed in music chiefly as the introduction to an opera, but in the 19th century it also designated autonomous symphonies such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. It’s in this sense that we chose the term, also because of its being suspended and ambiguous between the musical and psychic spheres: “ouverture”, opening, introduction to Alcina’s mental universe, to her headlong whirling.

Marco Martinelli and Ermanna Montanari

Ermanna Montanari, far more than an actress, is an extraordinary vocalist who is capable of transforming the word into music, something we are rarely likely to hear. It is thanks to interpreters like her that western music today has renewed the expression of human vocality by taking a road that goes beyond the vocal art par excellence: opera singing. The spoken language is richer in sounds and the inflection of a word may have richer subtleties than a melody sung in seven or twelve notes. Electronic technology has made a fundamental contribution here with the possibility of amplifying even the slightest whisper. This isn’t merely a subjective consideration but a general tendency of contemporary music since Schöenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire in the early 20th century. And today musical vocality has at last been freed from 19th century melodrama, becoming a rich and changing sound on a level with the sonority of today’s musical instruments. My collaboration with Ermanna Montanari began with the shows of Teatro delle Albe who courageously accepted the fusion between my materic music and their research into theatre language. Ermanna’s voice at once seemed the ideal point of contact between these two apparently distant worlds. Ouverture Alcina reveals just how much a personality like Ermanna can find her way to arriving at a result of great emotionality, interpreting Nevio Spadoni’s harsh verses in Romagnol dialect, built up from the sorceress figure in Ariosto’s Orlando furioso. It involved long, hard and shared work of rehearsals and experimentation. The idea underlying the piece is that construction of a work is a synthesis of word and music, where each individual element – while maintaining the value innate to its own language – is integrated with the other in complete synergy.

Luigi Ceccarelli

Marco Martinelli and Ermanna Montanari
Alchemy at Work: Teatro delle Albe
Writings and interviews 1997-2010

Festival des Francophonies en Limousin, Pascal Paradou's podcast interview on RFI

L'Île d'Alcina, le romagnol, langue de création contemporaine by Jean-Pierre Cavaillé on

Worlds without perimeters, interview by Massimo Marino to Ermanna Montanari on Corriere della sera

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