fbpx Biennale Musica 2017 | Biennale College Musica / Three One-act Operas
La Biennale di Venezia

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Biennale College Musica / Three One-act Operas

Orpheus Moments, seriously a comic opera (2017, 20’) world premiere
Ole Hübner music
Tassilo Tesche libretto
Jakob Boeckh set design and video
Friederike Blum stage direction
Julia Mihály soprano
Timotheus Maas baritone
Pablo Bottinelli tenor
Michael Taylor contralto (counter-tenor)

followed by:

Apnea (2017, 20’) world premiere
Leonardo Marino music
Alice Lutrario stage direction and libretto
Lucia Menegazzo set design and costume design
Licia Piermatteo soprano
Nataliia Vasyliuk soprano
Michael Taylor contralto (counter-tenor)
Timotheus Maas baritone

followed by:

La stessa barca (2017, 20’) world premiere
Raffaele Sargenti music
Antonello Pocetti and Raffaele Sargenti libretto
Antonello Pocetti stage direction
Antonino Viola set design and costume design
Rosario Di Benedetto video design 
Licia Piermatteo soprano
Elisa Bonazzi mezzo-soprano
Markos Trittas Kleovoulou baritone


conductor Filippo Perocco
Ex Novo Ensemble
computer music coordination: Tempo Reale / Giovanni Magaglio
production La Biennale di Venezia


Orpheus constitutes the beginning of opera and music theatre – multiple adaptations have upgraded the impact of opera as an art form and continue to influence contemporary music theatre to the present. However, Orpheus is not only a topos of music history but also the prototype of the musician and artist, an allegory of the human capability to create permanent things, to widen and to reach beyond one’s own world. His chant accomplishes emancipation, his individual skills disenchant him with respect to the rules of his environment. In that way, he is also a predecessor of the modern subject. He plays his lyre, and he plays with the gods until his most human skill – doubt – thwarts his plans. By turning around, changing direction, he is deflected from all given paths. In the more than fifty surviving musical versions of the Orpheus myth across the history of opera, Orpheus’ turning back has been motivated in very different ways. It is also the linchpin of this new interpretation. The result of his doubt is again the loss of his beloved – as Ovid wrote: “And he, unhappy man, stretching out his arms to hold her and be held, clutched at nothing but the receding air”. But the motivation is a new and different one, and not yet told.


The relationship between desire and reality, dreams and disillusion, are at the core of this opera. The audience will experience a new world made of shadows and reflections, in which the story of a lifelong learning path is presented by three figures. Firstly, the Mentor teaching witchcraft, the secrets of youth and the mysteries of the world: that it is possible to dominate reality to make a better life. Secondly, the character of Eros – a woman, lover and alter-ego of the protagonist – the witch who unveils life’s carnal secrets and reveals the depths of the soul. Thirdly, the Lover who seduces us to a higher consciousness and more worldly appreciation of life. Each of these three meetings is an occasion of happiness as well as unavoidable failure. The Mentor shows us the skills we have, as well as our limits and failures. The Lover teaches what intimacy is but also loss and loneliness. The Learner gives us hope for the future and awareness of our inevitable end.
The protagonist of this story guides us through her journey of self-discovery, of sorrows and triumphs that magically appear as she is about to draw her last breath. Apnea is a woman that has decided to commit suicide and, as her past flashes before her eyes, she tells us of a life spent desperately trying to connect with people.
It is only through this hallucination that it’s possible to understand the root cause of her actions: an unbearable past, no sense of belonging, disappointment and isolation. Apnea’s story reflects a failing universe, breaking apart and the fruitless attempt to stop it; of the wish to find one’s self reflected in others that leads to loneliness and abandonment; of the insane desire to put life’s fragments together while the world is unavoidably dying. This opera is a feast of visual theatre and passionate music that expresses the exquisite chaos of the cosmos. The rhythm of the story accelerates faster and faster to its climactic implosion, leaving only the sound of droplets, after Apnea’s death, echoing in an empty house.


Cast together to share an obscure destiny, in the swinging seesaw driven by hope and disappointment, well-aware of the precarious nature of our times, and in the determination of human helplessness and exploitation, well yes! there we all are, on different levels, but in the same boat.
Looking for a rope to hold onto that can defend us from the jolting and turbulence of liquid life, we watch the multitude on the horizon, migrant hordes approaching and inescapably invading our certainties, so comfortable yet on the verge of collapse.
Fear, anger, dreams, rebellion, frustration, faith, desire for redemption, these are the protagonists of a musical drama that, in its exploration of opposites (us/them, white/black, stasis/action, good/evil, lucre/charity, salvation/desperation), twists itself into a spiral that ends up making these opposites coincide.

Teatro Piccolo Arsenale

30122 VENICE
TEL. +39 0415218711

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Biennale Musica
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