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La Biennale di Venezia

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Biennale College Musica - Four one-act operas

Tredici secondi
 o Un bipede implume ma con unghie piatte
composer Marco Benetti
librettist Fabrizio Funari

La Meccanica del Colore
composer Nuno Costa
librettist Madalena dos Santos

composer Alessandro De Rosa
concept and librettist Mimosa Campironi
sound design Mimosa Campironi, Alessandro De Rosa

Ab Ovo
composer Talya Eliav
librettist Liron Barchat

stage direction Francesca Merli (Tredici secondi o Un bipede implume ma con unghie piatte / Ab Ovo)
stage direction Pablo Solari (La Meccanica del Colore / Trashmedy)
conductor Matthieu Mantanus
Ensemble Novecento dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

electronics CIMM - Centro di Informatica Musicale e Multimediale della Biennale di Venezia
computer music design Maurilio Cacciatore, Simone Conforti
set design Maddalena Oriani (La Meccanica del Colore, Trashmedy)
set design Davide Signorini (Tredici secondi o Un bipede implume ma con unghie piatte, Ab Ovo)
light design Moritz Zavan Stockle
make-up Anna Lazzarini
costumes Davide Signorini and Francesca Merli (Tredici secondi o Un bipede implume ma con unghie piatte, Ab Ovo)
costumes Maddalena Oriani (La Meccanica del Colore, Trashmedy)
props Cecilia Sacchi (Ab Ovo, Tredici secondi o Un bipede implume ma con unghie piatte)
video animation Michele Zangirolami (La Meccanica del Colore), Ehsan Mehrbakhsh (Ab Ovo)
répétiteurs Marina D’Ambroso, Alessia Toffanin
production La Biennale di Venezia
in collaboration with Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

Tredici secondi
 o Un bipede implume ma con unghie piatte

When a man’s car breaks down on a deserted provincial road, he seeks help in a derelict anonymous bar, marked by an old neon sign. In the cold light of the room, the man notices the profiles of two women and a man outlined against the back wall near the counter. The three figures are seated in a half-circle with their backs to the wall and a serious absorbed expression on their faces as they stare at an enormous chicken that stands, expressionless, on a table at the centre of the seating. The man is in a bind, and so he attempts to interact with the three figures but cannot, because they have been concentrating for a very long time, as the younger woman impatiently points out, on the vain endeavour of making the chicken fly. Incredulous and embarrassed, the man tries to explain his situation but is twice interrupted by the older man – a retired professor – who proposes to persuade the chicken to fly first by using language stratagems and then by relying on mathematics, while the older woman, a singer, at this point sings a succession of letters calculated on the basis of the Fibonacci sequence. But the chicken won’t fly, and the man is increasingly exasperated to the point that he grabs a knife to kill the chicken, provoking the dismay and rebuke of the other figures.
The opera is a tribute to the theatre of the absurd in the measure that it displays a sense of vague metaphysical anguish in the face of the burlesque absurdity of the human condition.

La meccanica del colore

The main character of this short story builds a humanoid robot wired to paint the landscapes that this man can no longer see in person, due to a leg wound. Though the man is the main character, it is the robot that fills the stage and reveals itself to be the prevailing form, irremediably mechanical and ruthless, in the darkness interrupted by garish strokes of colour. With the help of a shy and hesitant assistant, the man continues to make changes to the robot’s electrical and electronic paraphernalia, but the paintings it makes remain unreal. (...)
He secretly hopes that the robot will become better than he is; paradoxically however, though he feels inferior he still wants to control it, thereby remaining in constant conflict between the discredit of human identity and man’s will for supremacy. In La Meccanica del Colore the ridiculous and the grotesque gather around the continuous dissatisfaction that is experienced when searching for perfection. The protagonist’s frustration causes him to reflect on the catalysis of art, until, without warning, the characters’ roles change drastically as they adapt to the action on stage. From various perspectives, the constant conflict between the discredit of human identity and man’s will for supremacy is materialized. And before the curtain falls, the plot will thrill the public with a climax inspired by the contemporary absurd or, antagonistically, by classical opera.


Trashmedy is the story of the birth of a voice, in a melodic and literary sense and from the perspective of delineating the identity of the main character. It is a surreal comedy that takes place in a dystopic future, in which nature has died and all that is left is trash and desolation. The past is totally forgotten and the need to survive has made man a slave to contingency and digital control. In this context, art, culture and music are ancient myths the tradition of which is no longer handed down. In this desolation, there can be no action independent of the rules of a digital algorithm that controls the behaviour of humanity. The stage is empty and unadorned except for a pile of trash. A terrain vague: a place without cultivations or constructions, like a counter-image of the city intended both as a critique and as a clue to moving beyond it.
The opera is the story of a highly sensitive human being named One who evokes the echoes of music that has been forgotten by the collective memory, and involuntarily causes the seeds of nature to sprout again. One lives amidst the rubbish and is the only one who can “listen” to things. He perceives musical echoes and distant voices rising from the pile of abandoned things: the echo of Mozart from a small shoe, rock music from a guitar string, jazz from an empty can and so on. His world is a disharmonic forest of sound, in which he amuses himself by exploring volume, pitch, timbre and musical genres in a disorderly, random and playful way. One day he perceives something he had never heard before: a human voice. It is a wonderful song that is begging for help, and digging through the waste One liberates the presence of another being. (...)

Ab ovo

The opera takes place in an imagined pre-linguistic world and presents the routine of a woman working as a secretary at a reception desk. The visitors to her office come in holding eggs of different sizes and wait for a strange bureaucratic procedure. This selective procedure is supervised by a humanized computer, with which the secretary consults, and at the end of the process, the fate of each egg is determined. The potential of some eggs is recognized and realized, while the potential of others will never be revealed. No one knows what factors influence the computer’s decision. The language sung in this surreal and dream-like space is an invented one, a language of no place and of many places. With these invented words, the chant-like music creates a ritualistic atmosphere; we are in a primordial future. The plot is complicated by the appearance of one unusual egg, the destiny of which the computer cannot decide. The mechanism of the bureaucratic system gets stuck, which leads to the beginning of a special relationship between a secretary and COSMA – a cosmic egg.
The opera offers an imaginary alternative to the myth of the world’s creation and presents the absurd possibility that the existence of various worlds in the universe is determined by an arbitrary selection that takes place within a dull office routine. (...)

Teatro Piccolo Arsenale

30122 VENICE
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