Salvatore Sciarrino Returns to Myth in the Opera ‘Venere e Adone’

When the baritone Evan Hughes agreed to sing the a part of the wild boar in Salvatore Sciarrino’s “Venere e Adone,” premiering at the Hamburg State Opera on Saturday, he didn’t count on to grow to be the star of the present.

In most opera variations of the Venus and Adonis fantasy, like John Blow’s “Venus and Adonis” (1683) and Hans Werner Henze’s “Venus und Adonis” (1997), the boar is silent or eradicated. But in “Venere e Adone,” with a libretto by Sciarrino and Fabio Casadei Turroni, the boar, or the Monster, is not only a singing position — he’s the ethical core of the story.

In this model of the fantasy, the Monster, who has 5 solo scenes, doesn’t imply Adonis hurt. The creature has been hit by certainly one of Cupid’s arrows, and immediately falls in love with the boy looking him.

“I said yes to the project before I even really understood that the Monster was a sympathetic character,” Hughes mentioned in an interview. “He only becomes violent because of the outside world.”

In an interview at his dwelling in Città di Castello, Italy, Sciarrino, 76, mentioned he thought-about the Monster to be the most human character in “Venere e Adone.” At the starting, the Monster sings from a form of existential limbo, not sure of who he’s or what he desires. When he kills Adonis, who’s looking him, the Monster thinks he’s caressing and kissing the most lovely creature he has ever seen. Instead, he’s mauling him to dying.

“What is life for you is death for another,” Sciarrino mentioned. “It is one of the keys to being in the world.”

“Venere e Adone” will likely be led by the Hamburg State Opera’s music director Kent Nagano and staged by it inventive director, Georges Delnon. It is the first Sciarrino manufacturing that Nagano has performed, and though Delnon has recognized the composer for about 25 years, that is their first collaboration on a brand new opera.

The venture started when Turroni, 59, a author and former tenor, approached Sciarrino with a draft libretto based mostly on a model of the Venus and Adonis fantasy by the Italian Baroque poet Giambattista Marino.

Sciarrino and Turroni started assembly ceaselessly, usually at a bar close to the prepare station in Bologna, to form the textual content collectively. (Drunk individuals could be helpful sources of literary inspiration, mentioned Turroni, who additionally works as a bartender in Bologna.) Over a number of months, they tailored it to the wants of the music; the closing efficiency libretto was extracted instantly from the rating.

“Venere e Adone” broadly follows the contours of the fantasy. Venus, the goddess of affection, has descended to earth to be with Adonis, enraging her husband, Mars. Adonis desires to show to Venus that he’s not simply good-looking but in addition sturdy, so he makes a plan to go looking. Venus discourages Adonis; petulantly, he ignores her. In battle, the boar sinks its tusks into Adonis’s groin.

In Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” Adonis is reworked right into a flower by Venus as a memorial to his short-lived magnificence. In Turroni and Sciarrino’s model, each the magnificence and the beast who kills him are reworked into this flower, changing into one with nature and one another.

“Venere e Adone” is Sciarrino’s fifteenth opera. His first, “Amore e Psiche,” additionally based mostly on a legendary theme, was accomplished 50 years in the past. In these works, Sciarrino has honed an unmistakable theatrical fashion: intimate, fragile and sparse, with clearly audible textual content.

While some artists undergo distinct intervals, Sciarrino has spent his profession pursuing his peculiar model of magnificence. “I don’t really see a radical departure or sudden burst of experimentation that’s taken place over the years,” Nagano mentioned in a video interview. “Rather, I would say that it’s a deepening and perhaps refining of a language so that it speaks in evermore poetic ways.”

“It is impossible to hear a human voice and remain indifferent,” Sciarrino as soon as told the Brooklyn Rail.

He added: “Using the voice means employing simultaneously two forces, words and music. Singing without words is nonsense, like making a car without wheels.”

Unlike opera composers whose orchestral music displays each the acutely aware and unconscious feelings of the characters, Sciarrino writes instrumental components that summon their atmosphere. In “Venere e Adone,” there may be little accompanying music in any respect. Furtive echoes, forlorn hen calls and windlike breath sounds evoke a unadorned earth.

“The music of this opera is very dry,” Sciarrino mentioned. “There are not so many sounds in this world, because it is an empty world.”

In “Venere e Adone,” the vocal music can also be restrained. The singers intone the textual content shortly whereas sliding downward with their voices, or maintain lengthy, clear notes that blossom into transient melismas.

The countertenor Randall Scotting, who performs Adonis, in contrast “Venere e Adone” to an Emily Dickinson poem. “There’s so much in it,” he mentioned, “but you have to think about it, interpret it, bring your own things to it in order to understand it.”

Sciarrino’s vocal fashion could be difficult for singers. The Canadian mezzo-soprano Layla Claire, in the position of Venus, spent a lot time strolling round her home whereas practising fast Italian phrases that her two younger daughters began repeating fragments of the libretto.

“Once I started listening to Sciarrino’s music, I realized it was a language I didn’t speak,” mentioned Hughes, the baritone. “As I started to work on it, I felt the same way that I felt at the beginning of studying, singing, learning a language that I really didn’t understand, like trying to sing in Russian.”

But Sciarrino’s vocal fashion isn’t fully unfamiliar. He is fascinated by the artwork and music of the Italian Renaissance and the Baroque intervals. The partitions of his dwelling are lined in work, together with a Seventeenth-century depiction of Adonis and his mom Myrrha by an nameless Venetian artist.

Sciarrino himself nearly grew to become a painter. The affect of Renaissance and Baroque artwork will likely be palpable at the premiere of “Venere e Adone.” Delnon and his staff have hung historic depictions of the Venus and Adonis fantasy in their rehearsal house at the State Opera, adapting the stylized gestures from the work to the stage. The set designer, Varvara Timofeeva, and the costume designer, Marie-Thérèse Jossen, are growing glossy, minimalist interplays of black, white, grey and blood purple.

Delnon is aiming not for psychological realism, however for the artificiality of Baroque opera in his manufacturing. “You stage it in a way that you’re not trying to be the character,” he mentioned, “but just trying to show the character.”

“Venere e Adone” additionally contains music that sounds explicitly Baroque. For Scotting, it’s the uncommon work the place his early and modern music come collectively. “There’s this thread of antiquity that ties into it all,” he mentioned.

Sciarrino additionally makes use of the Baroque trope of a refrain that narrates and feedback on the motion. But whereas operas from that period usually use the refrain to superimpose a neat ethical on the story, Sciarrino deploys the vocal ensemble to extra ambiguous ends. “Venere e Adone” concludes with a query: “Who triumphs, love or death?”

Here, the Monster is redeemed by these common forces. “It’s as if Sciarrino is saying that the Monster is almost rewarded,” Delnon mentioned, “and Adonis is punished.”

Sciarrino mentioned the query was deliberately absurd and unanswerable. But, he continued with fun: “To tell the truth, love always wins. Or what we call love. That is the power of the word.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *