“AN INCONVENIENT ARGUMENT”
The concept, by Caterina Panti Liberovici
“L’impresario in angustie” is a sad story.
It is sad and distressing for those who believe in Theatre – maybe naïvely, and yet arrogantly.
For those who do Theatre by fighting the daily battle towards quality.
For those who apply discipline and intellectual honesty to their theatrical work.
For those who are willing to lose themselves in Theatre, look for themselves while never losing hope to find themselves again. As I do.
The story of “L’impresario in angustie” is sad and distressing because it only talks about the misery of Theatre.
There is a Producer who creates a company to stage a new production.
Along with the singers, there is a Maestro and a Poet who are charged to write the music and the text of the opera.
The poet has a draft of the first act, and hints at one for the second. Once the group is united, however, they are not able even make it through a reading of the libretto. Criticisms, biases, personal interests, reciprocal jealousies, lack of money along with the absence of theatrical ideals destroy the group before they can begin. The Producer, having been humiliated by receiving threats and petty tips, runs away.
The company breaks apart.
The theme of a “Play within a play” has always raised the allure of self- celebration in the world of opera and drama. In an overwhelming majority of texts that belong to this rich literary tradition,
the splendor of comedy is realized within itself leading to the happy ending: although complicated, challenging, and confusing, the world of theatre renews itself along with the hope that it will be able to continue doing so.
In “L’impresario in angustie”, that is not the case.
Surprisingly, the opera was very successful when it came out: it was staged all over Europe, translated into many languages, but more importantly abundantly reshaped.
In the majority of cases, it was used as a structure to which musical pieces were added, enlarging and transforming the piece. There was an overwhelming desire to interpret it, to deepen the dramaturgical side of such a viscerally autobiographical narrative material.
Inevitably this leads us think that the opera, in its original state, is not enough: how can you celebrate theatre, in theatre and with theatre, with the collapse of theatre itself?
It is a cumbersome topic.
One could choose a more fluid direction, that of the eternal parody, as is the case with Opera buffa, following the flow of the story where we, theatre people who stage the opera, portray ourselves as comedic buffoons.
Meanwhile you, the public, comfortable in your seats, can laugh at it satisfied.
But no, this cannot be done, or rather: I will not do that.
This unexpected and bitter moral is the key to the dramatic process.
It is the call to reality for those who live and breathe theatre, and who witness it die a little bit every day.
Therefore, there are no solutions, no deus ex machina, no brilliant overturn of prospective.
It is only the account of the intrinsic discomfort of posing such questions to us who are on stage and to you in the audience.
In “L’impresario in angustie” there is the character of the Director, also an actor: someone who believes, who seeks to stage this tale according to a new vision, where Life – movement, interpretation – can create a masterpiece, immobile in its time.
The Director (one who believes and seeks) passionately defends his theories against the characters he meets in an abandoned, dusty theatre: they are the ghosts of a worn out world, covered in time’s dust, tarnished by the tradition they desperately cling to.
The ghosts are the opera’s characters who have become paranoid and are not able to imagine a new and different way to see the world.
The battle of the Director has maybe already been lost, yet he fights with the same passion of Cyrano:
“What say you? It is useless? Ay, I know! But who fights ever hoping for success? I fought for lost cause, and for fruitless quest! You there, who are you!- You are thousands! Ah! I know you now, old enemies of mine! Falsehood! Have at you! Ha! and Compromise! Prejudice, Treachery!... Surrender, I? Parley? No, never! You too, Folly, you? I know that you will lay me low at last; Let be! Yet I fall fighting, fighting still!”
The Director will lose his direction and his certainties, but not his ideals. In order to keep them he will abandon the show.
The story of “L’impresario in angustie” cannot be completed as is. Still today, as in the past, this opera – although inadequate, and yet it is still staged – is subject to the umpteenth remake: Cimarosa’s music is put next to Pirandello’s prose, to Strehler’s thought, to Rostand’s verses, and becomes fragmented between the interruptions proper of the routine of a rehearsal.
There is the presumption to disenchant, which is nonetheless connected to ideals, but no solutions.
It is an unresolved story which questions, and makes us, both onstage and in the audience,
feel uncomfortable and unsatisfied. The show begins from and ends here.
It starts and ends with the contradiction of narrating, in theatre and with theatre, the collapse of theatre itself.