The voice of Lus, an ecstatic music with a heart of darkness
If a stage performance is defined as a “concert” there should be no doubt. It is a musical event. But it’s not that simple. The new version of Lus, a show that the Teatro delle Albe proposed for the first time during the 90s, foresees the reciting voice of Ermanna Montanari in the middle of a very rich sound fabric elaborated by Luigi Ceccarelli for electronics (live) and by Daniele Roccato on double bass. Reciting voice? Here too the definition is a gamble: it belongs entirely to the vocabulary of music and not to that of theater. And then Montanari’s infernal / extreme / ecstatic monologue on Nevio Spadoni’s text in Romagna is theater or music? The answer will be discussed but we will give it anyway: it is music because its autonomy of acting performance is maintained and canceled at the same time in the progress of the sound actions.
It is wrapped in it, it in turn determines the rejects, the unexpected passages. But she shares her “specific” with the musical one of Ermanna’s two partners, who are on stage with her in the hall of the Teatro delle Passioni in Modena.
The start is a constantly growing “ostinato” by Roccato taken up, modified, transformed by Ceccarelli’s “virtuous machines”. Music with a heart of darkness that gradually becomes material-passionate. This will be his likeness for the entire time of the show. Roccato starts ethereal and becomes dense, pressing, like an omen of lacerations and conflicts, Ceccarelli grabs the sounds of the double bass (also amplified and technologically modified) and obtains some curtains of very dramatic sounds, metallic flashes, flashes full of tragedy . Unlike the improvised performances in duo, now a classic in today’s music scene, the sounds of Roccato and Ceccarelli add up, make a mass. This, perhaps, reduces the spatialization that is generally so much desired in contemporary music, but allows a very strong emotional concentration on the whole.
The entry of Montanari, the Belda from Spadoni’s poem, is special, suitable for an earthy trance – and the music of Ceccarelli and Roccato is silent for a few minutes. A seer, a healer, a witch, the vengeful daughter of that Armida who in the Romagna countryside of the early 1900s was dug up by order of an infamous priest and re-buried in deconsecrated land because she was a “whore”. Tattered white dress spotted with red stripes (it’s real blood of the costume designer Margherita Manzelli).
A small scythe in her hand, a minimal scenic element a bit ambiguous, to tell the truth, because Belda is able to bring death, and in fact with her spell causes the harrowing end of the horrible priest, but she is also a rebel against hypocrisy and the respectability that asks, certainly in vain, from the God-who-died a possible exit into the light, the Lus, a ransom, a rebirth of those cursed by power.
“This dress has become tight / it has become tight / and the more time passes / and the more this skein gets tangled / and then that day comes / that one gets tired / binds shoelaces / and goes / runs through streets / wrinkled by the fog / to look for a light / a whirl ». If you have not been from Romagna for many generations you will hardly understand the words of the poem. Italian subtitles provide. But this arcane language, matter of a speech, of a shouted, of a whispered / lost that dialogues with the instruments, acoustic and synthetic that dictate certain curvatures, is the typical language of radical music, it sounds like a language made of phonemes , such are the verses of Spadoni put to music in this singular “concert” for three performers orchestrated by the director Marco Martinelli.
Ermanna Montanari is like an Artaud heroine, perhaps, but she is also an Albert Ayler, a Peter Brötzmann, from the scream of invectives to the restless lyrical thrill. The musical wonders are many. When, for example, the two musicians (in the strict sense, Ermanna is by election) emerge from a long episode of demonic chaos with a modulating, suffused, enchanted continuum.
Mario Gamba, Il Manifesto 28/1/2015
Witches, magicians and village rumors
There are – we are – many who remember the traumatic and exhilarating experience of L’isola di Alcina, the Concerto for horn and voice of Romagna on a text by Nevio Spadoni who, in 2000 in Venice, forcefully imposed on the attention that portentous mezcla centered on the art of Ermanna Montanari, with her “verbal sculpture” that goes beyond mere acting, inseparably merged with the sound invention of Luigi Ceccarelli and the directorial imagery of Marco Martinelli. That prodigious alchemical bond returns today, and again that magnetism is released and pins the viewer to the chair, while the voice, the music and the scene give life to a subjugating dramaturgy in which you hardly need to understand the words: musical theater at the pure, quintessential state, which communicates, excites, strikes in its entirety. The new chapter is entitled Luṣ, that is, in Romagna, but more precisely in the Ravenna dialect: Luce. Ermanna Montanari and Luigi Ceccarelli, thanks to Spadoni’s narration, find one of their privileged dimensions in this red-hot synergy. On all the incessant, mesmeric power of the female creature: magical, demonic and outcast sculpted through an inexhaustible modulation of vocal and discursive tones and registers, from intimate to furious, from tremor to ferocity, from poignant to sulphurous. Yesterday Alcina, today Balda, indeed “la Bêlda, la fiôla dla pôra Armida” and therefore a thread of sorceresses and magicians, between mythology and village rumor, allegorical metamorphosis of dramas of violence and marginalization of which culture is full ( and life) popular. Ermanna Montanari’s voice
shapes, transfigures the verbal matter into an authentic score with unspeakable agogic, dynamics and mottling.
And it is on this invisible and overbearing score that Luigi Ceccarelli grafts and weaves his sounds, or rather, his music – because that’s what it is – exalting it in an authentic union, where music does not narcissistically exhibit itself (how many music associations- word, today as yesterday, fall back into this display worse than sterile: deleterious!) but it creeps, dresses, strengthens, illuminates with total dedication. In Alcina, Ceccarelli’s raw material was the sound of an electronically treated horn, in Luṣ there is a further added value: the excellent Daniele Roccato, present on stage with his double bass, whose instrumental prowess enters the diabolical alembic of the live electronics expertly governed by Ceccarelli, amalgamating with the sound material of the pre-recorded tape. La Bêlda, daughter of poor Armida, sorceress, witch, prostitute, murderer, madman, but above all victim of prejudice and of the most abject respectability, tells, tells like a torrent, now dry, now foaming revenge. In the embrace between this ancestral vocal score and the fascinating, technological, virtuosic musical guise of Ceccarelli and Roccato, musical theater writes its own admirable new chapter.
Giordano Montecchi – Amadeus Online
The witch’s blood
…….. The empty space, surmounted by a screen on which the writing Lus will materialize, written in (real) blood by the visual artist Margherita Manzelli, also author of the watercolors projected on it, and of the disturbing costume of the protagonist is marked by three platforms: on the first, to the right of the audience, the double bass player Daniele Roccato will take place, on the third, to the left of the scene, the composer Luigi Ceccarelli will arrange himself with the computers through which he transforms the sounds and the voice in excruciating electronic sequences. Ermanna Montanari will settle on the central platform, which has the emblematic shape of a piano, of a dazzling white like the other two bases to underline the purely musical substance of the actress’s work from the beginning. …… ..
At every moment the acting is one with the body, with the music, with the images of tormented faces that appear on the screen. It is, that of all three participants, lucidly orchestrated by Martinelli, an extraordinary performance, capable of inflaming the audience of the Teatro delle Passioni in Modena …….
Renato Palazzi, Il Sole 24 ore 16/2/15
Belda and Evil
…… Lus is a concert: the actress talks with Daniele Roccato’s double bass, rhombus, chthonic rubbing, stirring of lava, distilled, overturned, multiplied by Luigi Ceccarelli’s live electronics. It becomes percussion, pinch, obsession, halo, punch, dream, nightmare. The voice and the sounds dialogue with images of Margherita Manzelli, clots of congealed blood, tangles, pupils observing our evil eyes, noses and eyes roughened by faces as if whitened with bandages. It kidnaps, sinks into this formidable spectacle, towards the painful ending of the double bass in sweet melody, barely threatened by electric echoes, and Bélda, in blue backlit, takes upon herself the ills of all, she, the last, in search of dew of the morning to spread on the eyes, before going blind. In search of light. Abandon yourself.
Massimo Marino – Left – January 30, 2015
Lus. A show of theater, music and art
—– In this exceptional concert taken from a poem in Romagna by Nevio Spadoni and directed by Marco Martinelli, Ermanna Montanari talks with Daniele Roccato’s double bass and Luigi Ceccarelli’s live electronics. It definitely disorients itself. With the true voice, the radical destruction of the idea of the subject acts, without telling it, the shattering of its center, the search, within the ashes of itself, for another, visceral, eternal center. The two musicians explore this fading, refracting it, multiplying it, substantiating it with a storm of blows and collapses, echoes, dissonances, reverberations, sharp blades. The obstinate overture of Roccato plunges us into a non-place, extraordinary, disturbing; Ceccarelli collects every spell, every omen, every toll from the depths, and re-launches it; he deconstructs the psychic landscape of Bêlda, takes it apart, reveals it. The sounds – and among these her words from Romagna, cruel, real and supernatural, earthly and mysterious – explore her, and at the same time touch her, literally, like pins that she herself hatches inside her throat, and head, and which return to her. to hurt her …
Rossella Menna – Artribune – February 17, 2015