Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don Giovanni Trionfante - 2013

In Enten-Eller, Kierkegaard puts on stage the contrast between ethic and aesthetic, reflecting upon himself through the mirror of the characters of Mozart's Don Giovanni. In a montage of materials taken from Kiekegaard's labyrinthine masterpiece, Mozart's opera and Gluck's ballet Don Juan, the different languages of philosophy, opera, dance and video clash, showing the infinite possibilities of life, differing point of view and the necessity of a choice.

This ambitious project (which I created for festivalfilosofia, Modena Philosophy Festival) featured a young, auditioned cast that I was able to choose from many singers from all over Europe. Every one of them was absolutely perfect for my vision of their roles: a very young and innocent-looking Don Giovanni, a hard and fragile Anna, a tender and strong Elvira, a dull and submissive Ottavio, an ironic but suffering Leporello, a fatherly Commendatore. The (mute) role of Masetto was played by the cellist of the orchestra.

The textual extracts from all the different books of Enten-Eller (written by two different fictitious characters, named A and B) were entrusted to actor Massimiliano Briarava, who depicted a protean Kierkegaard, appearing in many different guises. 

The choreography of Anne Juds, performed by the young students of dance school Progetto Danza, acted as a counterpoint to the action, commenting and expanding the ideas of Kierkegaard and the action of Don Giovanni from a contemporary point of view.

Videographer Tommaso Arosio, who was present on stage, guided and deceived the audience through all these different point of views, embodying the point of view itself. Sometimes he showed details that were impossible to see from the audience, following the actors in their dressing rooms, for instance. Sometimes he tricked the audience, showing scenes that were different from what was actually happening on stage. The audience was forced to choose what to watch and what to believe. This is the moral essence of the theatre, in my opinion.

The show, created for the popular Modena Philosophy Festival, was due to be staged in the Teatro Comunale "Luciano Pavarotti" of Modena but, just a few days before rehearsals, the municipality decided to close the theatre in order to do some structural work on the building. In very few days, I had to re-think the show for the completely different space of the little Teatro delle Passioni. I also had to write—over night—arrangements for an eleven-instrument ensemble in order to fit in the theatre and to afford two more performances in order to accommodate all those interested. (Nevertheless, every night 150-200 people had to be sent away anyway because the theatre was already packed.)

The show was very physical and direct, and with a lot of irony. Yet it required a lot of concentration from the audience: it was three hours long and Kierkegaard's words are quite tough. I was very happy to observe that every night the audience (composed mainly of young people not accustomed to opera or dance) reacted with an enthusiasm that I never could have imagined.

Mozart / Kierkegaard - Don Giovanni Trionfante 
(Modena, Teatro delle Passioni, september 2013) 

Don Giovanni (Antonio Sapio), Leporello (Alberto Zanetti), Donna Anna (Eleonora Cilli), Donna Elvira (Myrto Bocolini), Zerlina (Cristiana Arcari), Gabriele Barinotto (Don Ottavio), Michele Filanti (Commendatore), Orchestra Euphonia, Giovanni Paganelli (conductor), Progetto Danza (dance company), Anne Juds (choreographer), Massimiliano Briarava (actor), Tommaso Arosio (live videographer), Alessandro Pasqualini (light designer), Equipe Sartoria (costumes), Enea Bucchi (make-up), Daniele Giantomaso (poster photo).

Some clips from the show:

"Ah, chi mi dice mai" and the following recitativo. A good specimen of my work on actors

"Madamina, il catalogo è questo." The camera, the embodiment of the Point Of View, shows the cruelty of the situation, at once comic (notice the audience's reaction) and tragic, a perfect example of the Pirandellian concept of "umorismo". In the meanwhile the dancers introduce patterns of the following dance, which represents the variable geometry and the repetitiveness of sentimental relationships, on the duel music from the Gluck ballet, repeated over and over. The cameraman has followed Leporello and Elvira in the dressing rooms and shows the catalogue (in fact electron microscopy notes) being leafed through. 

"Non ti fidar, o misera" The camera materializes the clashing of the different points of view (the central theme of the whole Don Giovanni Trionfante)

"Era già alquanto avanzata la notte". Donna Anna tells Don Ottavio the ambiguous story of her sexual assault. (Another particularly intense example of work on acting)

"Dalla sua pace". One of the funniest scenes in the show. The audience is tricked on believing they are seeing a live video but they soon discover that it's a pre-recorded video. On the most famous shopping street in Modena (Via Farini) we see Donna Anna and Don Ottavio in contemporary clothes coming back home after a shopping afternoon. Poor Ottavio! Donna Elvira also appears.

Elvira according to Kierkegaard (from Silhouettes)
(English subtitles available)

"Mi tradì quell'alma ingrata"

"Non mi dir". An insight in the psyche of Donna Anna. Then a brief sarcastic comment on the couple by the dancers (on Gluck's Les trembleurs)

A little bit of sarcastic Kierkegaard (from Diapsalmata). The end of the world. 
(English subtitles available)


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