Ouverture Alcina—a frightening, hypnotic bit of recitative—scratches a very, very specific itch. Are you, for instance, a fan of minimalist stagings, but histrionic actresses? Do you like opera—but have a secret desire to hear one butchered for its sonic parts? In Teatro delle Albe’s strange spoken-word aria, rending things apart is the order of the day. Ermanna Montanari speaks, shrieks and growls her Romagnol text—Nevio Spadoni’s updating of the seductive witch from Orlando Furioso—as though it’s being clawed directly from her voicebox. Around her screams the tempestuous electronic score by Luigi Ceccarelli, a noise so insane it seems to have ripped itself violently away from the libretto. Co-devisor Marco Martinelli cuts the space with icy stripes of light—though Montanari often prefers to back slightly away from us, leaving her face in darkness. The effort is to divorce every element from every other element, and to make the susceptible among us feel torn apart as well.
The short work is only seven short sections: Alcina bemoans her fate, hurls a decent amount of invective at men (memorably she likens them to pig-shearing, “all that noise, so little wool”) and takes leave of her senses, all while flickering just at the edge of our vision. There’s no need to follow the story, since it is brutally simple. (Alcina has betrayed her sister by seducing her lover. Then she loses it.) We’re really here to revel in Montanari’s extraordinary control, her painted eyes, her full-throttle staginess. In various avant-garde experiments I’ve seen recently, characters from the great silent movies find themselves spliced into modern work. Here, without any recourse to video trickery, Teatro delle Albe gets the same effect.
Posted in Upstaged by Helen Shaw on Jan 7, 2011 at 7:12pm
Ouverture Alcina * * * * (FOUR STARS) – P.S. 122 (see Off-Off Broadway)
What leads the public to this recovery of empathy with space? Of immersion and interpenetration. The sound. Mainly the sound. Montanari moves words in the air that mix and ride, chase or are seized by a music that in turn does not use recognizable notes or scales. Not transcribable or playable. Even the notes dilate, crumble, become thinner, are lost as such and become sound again. All this work crumbles, as happens with modern art at a certain point in history, canons and codes, bringing them back to a primordial untranslatability. Not an instrument, but space sounds. Maestro Luigi Ceccarelli says: “My music does not consider patterns, but comes before patterns”. Martinelli, Montanari and Ceccarelli place themselves outside the measured space, they rediscover that “non-location” before any canon of measurement. But theirs remains a representation and therefore arose and composed through the knowledge and use of canons and measurements. In fact, in the rigor of representation and only through that rigor can they arrive to offer a moment of intuition of the eternal devoid of our communication skills through measuring instruments and codes of expression. The lap of evolution lies in knowledge, loss of knowledge, tools to recover it, return to knowledge.
(Luciana Lanzarotti, teatro.org, 24 April 2012)