Catalogue
English

Teatro Comunale, ''Orphée et Eurydice''

Bologna

The scenographic representation of the afterlife that David and Frédèrico Alagna created thanks to a big Digital printing rear-illuminated backdrop, 20 m wide and 12 m high, realized with the film RAR - Arizona, on which is delineated a spine-chilling northern landscape in which the souls fluctuate in the vacuum. With the intention to confer to the story a more modern lyric aesthetics, free from the academic conventions, the direction by David Alagna transported the action in the contemporaneity, diminishing the role of the fate, that leads without a way of escape a tragedy in which the protagonists are already imprisoned from the beginning, and accenting instead, according to a more actual conception, the influence that the free will and the sense of guilt hold on the carrying out of the human events.
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The stage direction pursued a cinema style realism that approached it, more than to the traditional stagings, to the Orphée by Jean Cocteau. In this situation it was privileged the dramatic credibility, however without neglecting the dreamlike aspects of the story, that maintains suspended the edge between dream and reality up to the final explanation. In order to follow these goals, the stage direction operated some variations on the narrative plot, with adaptations of the libretto, and on that musical level, with moves of the tone and adjustments of the timbre. Euridice dies so in an car crash, the character of Love is turned into the Guide that conducts Orfeo to the hell, with a baritone in the part originally conceived for a soprano voice, and at the end the tragedy also loads itself with the death of Orfeo.
Made of white HRT - Rasetto Texturé and HSE - Tempesta, the amazing costume designed by Carla Teti seems to transform, with the levitation of Euridice, in a surrealist quotation, almost a homage to that Cocteaus that the Alagna brothers quoted among the sources of inspiration of their work. The operation of the Teatro Comunale, that admirably took the risk is to venture itself along a non conventional route, was prized by a great success of public, that was sided, inevitably, by the disdain of some purists. A good part of the critics has, nevertheless, understood the reasons of the stage direction. «... there is to surprise oneself of so much sensation, on the other hand a sure sign that the theater is alive: we have assisted to a balanced show in its both stage and musical dimension.» Andrea Merli, from L'opera, n. 223.
«The hardest part of the critics will not like it, comprehensibly, but the freedom that David Alagna took, eventually found a wide acceptance among the normal public, that doesn't necessarily have to know by hart the work in the two versions, the Italian one of the libretto by Calzabigi and the French one by the poet Moline¹, that doesn't possess all the record editions - for other there is not an equal edition to the other - and that shown, vice versa, to appreciate a propositional staging, with a great suggestion and theatrically engaging.» Andrew Merli, ibidem. ¹In 1774 Gluck readapted the opera to introduce it to the Parisian public, submitting the translation of its libretto to Pierre-Louis Moline, and bringing so radical changes that made consider the one of Paris a second version of the Orphée.
The enthusiasm manifested by the public of Bologna for this interpretation in a modern key of the opera by Gluck¹ could also find a comparison in a more underground consideration and at first sight hazardous: that represented in the temple of the Bibbiena is for some verses nearer than any other philological staging to the native spirit of the Orphée. The Orphée is considered in fact the cornerstone opera of the reform that Gluck operated towards the rococo virtuosity, stimulated also by the dialectical relationship that had with the librettista Raniero de' Calzabigi (1714-1795), a literate from Livorno with an adventurous life, active to the Viennese court of Maria Theresia and a Giacomo's Casanova friend, who was as well a member of the Arcadia, of which is strongly known the critical vision towards the theater and towards the eighteenth-century melodrama. ¹The interest of the Teatro Comunale for the works of the musician of Erasbach has historical origins. The theater was inaugurated in fact few months after the debut in Vienna of the Orphée, exactly with an opera by Gluck, The Triumph of Clelia.
The change of direction that Gluck gave with Orphée et Eurydice to the musical theater was facing the recovery of the canons of the Greek tragedy, to the expressive purity and the thinning of all that, in the orchestration and in the interpretation of the singers, had some ornamental purposes, while the action became quick and incisive and the scenography directed towards the likelihood. Result: then the Orphée represented a real revolution whose meaning, in the current decontextualization, should be lost, a reason for which this interpretation, doesn't paradoxically make a smaller justice to the eyes of the contemporary spectator if it is compared to some more respectful.
The epilogue in which Orfeo decides to abdicate the life and, set himself in the coffin together with Euridice, he is lowered in the pit. Also the cemetery was made with a second Digital printing rear-illuminated backdrop, 20 m wide and 12 m high, realized with the film for rear-projections RAR - Arizona. It is in evidence the Stage masking made of CPA - Boccascena of the Teatro Comunale.
The celebrations of the wedding among the two protagonists, in which the contemporary setting is underlined by the costumes. «... the myth of Orfeo is here a dream that the protagonist has in the moment of the burial of his bride, dead immediately after the wedding in a car accident of which he came out unharmed. The undertaker-guide conducts him to the afterworld, a glacial space where the souls are suspended in the vacuum. The condition to bring back to life Euridice is that of the myth: to avoid her look. She provokes him flirting with the Guide, he surrenders and Euridice definitely dies among his arms. The awakening of Orfeo in the cemetery doesn't get the happy ending of the French version: he dies of pain and their two bodies are buried together.» Andrea Merli, ibidem.
Theatrical action in three acts
Music
First night
Vienna, Burgtheater, 5/10/1762

Scenography
David Alagna
Frédèrico Alagna
Costume design
Carla Teti
Light design
Aldo Solbiati
Scenographical workshop
Art Project Srl
Technical direction
Carlo Poggioli
Stage direction
David Alagna

Staging
Teatro Comunale of Bologna
Season
2007/2008

See also ...

CPA - Boccascena

Duvetyne and blackout fabrics

Digital printing rear-illuminated backdrops

Printing on vinyl

HSE - Tempesta

Silks and satins

RAR - Arizona

Rear-projection films

Stage maskings

Acoustic curtains