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Biennale Musica 2022

Giorgio Battistelli

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

Award Ceremony

Thursday 15 September 2022
Ca’ Giustinian, Venice

Giorgio Battistelli

La Biennale di Venezia will present the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to the composer Giorgio Battistelli “for his work in experimental musical theatre and his intense operatic production, staged by the most important European institutions”.

“Giorgio Battistelli’s long and celebrated career began in the 1960s with projects for experimental theatre that have become emblematic and foundational for musical research within the context of sound theatricalisation and the theatricality of the performing gesture. Such as Experimentum Mundi, composed in 1981, a work of imaginative music for one actor, eight natural voices of women, sixteen tradesmen and a percussionist, which to this day has been performed 400 times in Europe, Asia, Oceania and North America and is considered a cornerstone of instrumental musical theatre; Jules Verne composed in 1987, a chamber fantasy in the form of a performance for a trio of percussions, three voices, trumpet and piano, and Orazi e Curiazi composed in 1996 for two percussionists” (from the motivation for the award).

Biographical notes

Giorgio Battistelli (Albano Laziale, 1953) earned his diploma in composition in 1978 with Giancarlo Bizzi at the Conservatorio “A. Casella” in L’Aquila. In 1972 he founded the improvisation group “Edgard Varèse” and the instrumental ensemble “Beat ‘72”. In 1975, he attended composition seminars with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel in Cologne. In 1978-1979 he was in Paris to attend courses in the technique and interpretation of contemporary musical theatre.  In 1985-86, he took up residence in Berlin at the invitation of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst.

The most significant titles in his intense production for theatre include: Teorema, co-producted with the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Munich Biennale, later performed at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome directed by Luca Ronconi; Frau Frankenstein, commissioned by the Ensemble Modern; Prova d’orchestra, a commission from the Opéra National du Rhin in Strasburg. In 2002, Auf den Marmorklippen was presented at the Nationaltheater in Mannheim conducted by Ádám Fischer and staged by La Fura dels Baus. During those years he composed The Embalmer based on a text by Renzo Rosso, performed by Ian McDiarmid; L’autunno del Patriarca; Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, presented at the Festival di Ravello directed by Mario Martone; Riccardo III, libretto by Ian Burton directed by Robert Carsen and acclaimed by Opera News Magazine as one of the twenty best operas of the century, later performed by the Teatro La Fenice and winner of the ‘Franco Abbiati’ award in 2018. In 2008 he composed the operas The Fashion (commissioned by the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf) and Divorzio all’italiana (commissioned by the Opéra National de Lorraine, directed by David Pountney); in 2017 Lot (commissioned by the Staatsoper Theatre in Hannover); in 2019 7 minuti (commissioned by the Opéra National de Lorraine) for which he also wrote the libretto, freely adapted from the text of the same name by Stefano Massini. Two new works are on the programme this season: Julius Caesar, commissioned by the Opera di Roma to inaugurate its season on November 20th (directed by Robert Carsen); Le baruffe chiozzotte at the Teatro La Fenice on February 22nd (directed by Damiano Michieletto).

His symphonic works include Meandri, commissioned by the Orchestra Filarmonica del Teatro alla Scala conducted by Riccardo Muti and Afterthought, commissioned and performed by the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, under the baton of Antonio Pappano.

He was the composer-in-residence for the Antwerp Opera in 2005-2006 and the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf for the two-year term 2007-2008. In 2006-07 he taught at Aldeburgh Music, the school founded by Benjamin Britten where he held a course in music theatre for the Jerwood Opera Writing Fellowships. Since 2004 he has been an Academician of Santa Cecilia.

He has been the artistic director of important musical institutions, such as the Music department of La Biennale di Venezia (2004-2007). Since January 2020, he has been the Artistic Director of the Festival Puccini at Torre del Lago. Since the 2021-21 season he has been the Artistic Director of the Sinfonica della Fondazione Haydn di Bolzano e Trento.

Biennale Musica
Biennale Musica