Composer Giorgio Battistelli, one of the most renowned names in Italy and abroad, is the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music “for his work in experimental musical theatre and his intense operatic production, staged by the most important European institutions”; whereas the Ars Ludi ensemble, consisting of three exceptional percussionists – Antonio Caggiano, Rodolfo Rossi and Gianluca Ruggeri – has been awarded the Silver Lion in Music “for its performing virtuosity and capacity to transform the world of percussion into a compelling Machina Mundi”.
The decision was made by the Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia, accepting the recommendation by Lucia Ronchetti, Director of the Music Department, who has titled the 66th International Festival of Contemporary Music, to be held in Venice from September 14th to 25th 2022, Out of Stage, dedicated to new forms of experimental musical theatre.
“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).
The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award to Giorgio Battistelli goes hand in hand with the Silver Lion awarded to Antonio Caggiano, Rodolfo Rossi and Gianluca Ruggeri, founders of Ars Ludi in 1987, as “the ideal interpreters of the new repertory of instrumental theatre, charismatic and histrionic musicians who transform each percussive sequence into a highly theatrical event, contributing to create a new vision of contemporary musical production in which the most complex scores are presented with an exhilarating and communicative approach to performing” (from the motivation).
Lucia Ronchetti writes: “The contemporary percussionist is a special musician, his arsenal of instruments has expanded with the evolution of composition and the dedicated repertory to include everyday objects, electrical mechanisms, mechanical instruments and digital percussion, as well as percussion instruments from other musical traditions. The percussionist must learn different techniques and move nimbly within his set, which sometimes occupies the entire stage and represents an imaginary theatre activated by the percussionist himself, like a deus ex-machina, vocal operator, performer and demiurge”.
The 66th Festival
A new version of Jules Verne, with the author Giorgio Battistelli for the first time in a new role as director, performed by Ars Ludi, will inaugurate the 66th International Festival of Contemporary Music of La Biennale di Venezia on September 14th 2022, on the stage of the Teatro La Fenice. Ars Ludi will furthermore be involved in various concerts, in addition to participating in the activities of the Biennale College Musica. A new version of the cult opera by Giorgio Battistelli, the great dramatic and musical tapestry Experimentum Mundi, will be the closing performance of the Festival, on September 25th 2022, at the Teatro alle Tese.
The awards ceremony for the Golden Lion to Giorgio Battistelli will be held in the Sala delle Colonne at Ca’ Giustinian, the Biennale headquarters, on September 15th 2022; it will be followed by a conversation between German musicologist Helga De La Motte and the composer.
The Ars Ludi ensemble will receive the Silver Lion on September 17th 2022 also in the Sala delle Colonne at Ca’ Giustinian. It will be followed by a conversation between the music historian and dramaturgist Guido Barbieri and the percussionists of Ars Ludi: Gianluca Ruggeri, Antonio Caggiano and Rodolfo Rossi.
The Lions of previous editions
In the past, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music has been awarded to Goffredo Petrassi (1994), Luciano Berio (1995), Friedrich Cerha (2006), Giacomo Manzoni (2007), Helmut Lachenmann (2008), György Kurtág (2009), Wolfgang Rihm (2010), Peter Eötvös (2011), Pierre Boulez (2012), Sofia Gubaidulina (2013), Steve Reich (2014), Georges Aperghis (2015), Salvatore Sciarrino (2016), Tan Dun (2017), Keith Jarrett (2018), George Benjamin (2019), Luis De Pablo (2020), and Kaija Saariaho (2021).
The Silver Lion, dedicated to promising young artists in music, or to the institutions that have distinguished themselves for cultivating new talents, has been awarded in the past to Vittorio Montalti and Francesca Verunelli (2010), RepertorioZero (2011), Quartetto Prometeo (2012), Fondazione Spinola Banna per l’Arte (2013), Ryo Murakami (2016), Dai Fujikura (2017), Sebastian Rivas (2018), Matteo Franceschini (2019), Raphaël Cendo (2020), and Neue Vocalsolisten (2021).
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.
Ars Ludi is a trio of percussionists founded in 1987, consisting of Antonio Caggiano, Rodolfo Rossi and Gianluca Ruggeri. From the beginning of their careers, the three performers have set out on an artistic journey that moves across two interpretative dimensions. On the one hand, advancing the contemporary repertoire for percussion in concerts on the international stage, performing the most important works for percussion by John Cage, Mauricio Kagel, Iannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Giorgio Battistelli, Louis Andriessen, Edgar Varèse, Steve Reich, Giacinto Scelsi, Luciano Berio and Francesco Filidei; on the other hand, by supporting the experimental composition of many young Italian authors with commissions and premiere performances. Ars Ludi’s work is also distinguished by the ideation and production of multimedia musical theatre events, collaborating in the ideation process with the protagonists of different creative directions, such as Florian Fricke of the Popol Vuh; by the production of the projects Land im Klang by Alvin Curran, Macchine Virtuose by Luigi Ceccarelli, Aphrodite by Giorgio Battistelli and Polaris by Lorenzo Pagliei. As active participants in the Progetto Dello Scompiglio, the members of Ars Ludi experiment with percussion performance in natural environments and with the connection between sound and environmental space in new forms of interpretation for the percussion repertory.