Teatro alla Scala, ''Teneke''


The contrast among the water of the rice-fields, that Arnaldo Pomodoro stylized with the TST - Silviastar mirror floor and the tormented tangle of lines that the scenographical workshop of the Teatro Alla Scala modeled consolidating the surfaces with abundance of GGI - Siria.Fabio Vacchi took as a starting point the tale Teneke that the Turkish writer of Kurdish origin Yashar Kemal (Hemite, Turkey, 1922) wrote in 1955.Vacchi, according to the intention he declared since the beginning of his musical run, that to write music for people who doesn't listen to contemporary music, breaking down the barriers that limit the use to the entourage of the followers, added some electronic interventions to the score that made even more involving the atmosphere created by soloists, the great choir and the great orchestra.
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The scene, constituted by a big inclined floor covered first by elaborate concretions, then by the silvery TST - Silviastar floor, reminds the contrast among the surfaces perfectly smoothed and the repetitions of segments and complex gears that characterize the series of the Euclid solids (spheres, cones, etc.) to which Pomodoro devoted part of his own sculptor's production since the Years 1960.Proceeding toward the darkness of the horizon, the inclined plane breaks in five steps, almost terraces that allow the access and the passage of the actors.The steps are covered with the mirroring floor but in a way absolutely not antiseptic, because roughly installed, with creased panels, in way of representing the reflex of the rice-fields without poetry, almost with harshness.
In this scene, dominated by the nighttime reflexes on the TST - Silviastar floor, a corrupt guard opens a dam making pour the water in the fields, while the low part of the scene is invaded by mud, cleverly imitated with some opportunely worked AJT - Hessian jute.Teneke narrates about the forced introduction of the cultivation of rice, really more profitable than the traditional ones but bearer of malaria and death, that upsets a Turkish community of farmers of Anatolia.The arrogance of power, thanks to tricks and corruption, will defeat the resistance of the farmers, whose fields will be flooded and whose life will be invaded by mud, mosquitos and malarial fevers.
Evident and very interesting, watching it from a scenographical point of view, is the contrast among raw and natural materials (the jute AJT - Hessian, the ATS - Toscana canvas) and an artificial and a varnished material (the TST - Silviastar floor), often animated by cold and disquieting reflexes.
The story weaves with the personal one of the kaimakam (provincial governor) Fikret IrmaklÔ, a youth to his first charge that won't succeed in opposing in any way to the overbearance of the rice producers without scruples that will obtain the monopoly of the territory against the farmers.The tale by Yashar Kemal takes its title from the name of the big drums made of can, the tenekes, whose noise will accompany with sneer the departure of the young kaimakam when he will have leave his charge, defeated by the large landowners.
The reflexes of reddish crepuscular light of the rice-fields dominate the discouragement of the kaimakam and of the farmers.In these pictures with an evening and nighttime light it's not visible the big Rear-illuminated backdrop 23,60 m wide and 15,80 m high that was used by the installation to simulate the diurnal light of the sky.The backdrop was manufactured with the rear-projection film RTE - Temporale.
The scene is covered with floors made of painted natural ATS - Toscana canvas, while a flood of mud realized with jute AJT - Hessian seems to get down from the rice-fields.The kaimakam, below to the left, and the farmers' choir.The characters and the themes treated by the tale by Yashar Kemal are particularly near to Ermanno Olmi's sensibility, as he has always been interested in country and simple people life.The collaboration between the director of L'albero degli zoccoli and Arnaldo Pomodoro had already given results of absolute relief, in installations for lyric opera, with the Otello of the 1997 of the Teatro Regio of Turin and with Un ballo in maschera, represented in 2005 at the Opernhaus of Leipzig.
Water and mud, TST - Silviastar and AJT - Hessian jute.The resignation of the Turkish farmers to their destiny is underlined by the end that Vacchi submits to music only, delivering however to the epilogue a message of unexpected opening that opposes the inevitability of the story.Evil won, it is power to govern the world and not the laws, not honesty but the astuteness and the absence of scruples.The struggle, nevertheless, is not ended, and not everything is lost, if the resistance will go on, tomorrow things could be different.
Opera in three acts
First night
Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 22/9/2007

costume design
Stage direction


The action narrated by the Turkish writer Yaşar Kemal take place in the '50 among the peasants of Anatolia, but the universality of the metaphor would allow the its transposition in any location of our days.

Materials used in this production

AJT - Hessian


Arnaldo Pomodoro

Some Masters

ATS - Toscana

Muslin and canvas

COT - Oscurante Teatro

Duvetyne and blackout fabrics

GGI - Siria


Rear-illuminated backdrops

Vinyl backdrops: typologies

TST - Silviastar

Dance floors

Information on data processing