On November 22 (with repeat performances November 23 and 24) Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera Orchestra, conducted by John Axelrod, presents the world premiere of Un romano a Marte
by Vittorio Montalti. Book by Giuliano Compagno.
The production is directed by Fabio Cherstich, featuring scenic design and costumes by Gianluigi Toccafondo.
Montalti’s opera pays homage to Rome, its history and culture, with a tribute to Ennio Flaiano and his short story Un marziano a Roma
(“A Martian in Rome”). A theatrical production of the story debuted in 1960 at Milano’s Teatro Lirico. It starred Vittorio Gassman, who had staunchly promoted the project, and was a sensational flop.
Giuliano Compagno recalls that night: “The reaction of the audience in Milano was so overwhelming that it laid bare the glaring divide between the two cities in those years – Rome, overflowing with jaunty vitality, and Milano, grave and productive.”
Compagno’s book takes its cue from that theatrical debacle and tells the story of a city at the center of the world. In it he explains, “20th-century Rome was brimming with culture and humanity, so powerful as to inspire at least three decades’ worth of splendid cinema, theater that was constantly being renewed, and a host of literary gems.”
This is the fourth opera that Vittorio Montalti and Giuliano Compagno have teamed up on, the work of a solid partnership. “The subject,” explains Montalti, “definitely warranted extra special attention, along with the kind of creative responsiveness that jibed with the many marks of modernity that Ennio Flaiano left us. Maybe that’s why my own personal imagination came up with a somewhat bizarre universe. There are sung lines, fragments of text, electronic sounds, and an orchestra that swathes it all. […] I really get into writing an opera when I can use all kinds of different means of expression. It’s a way of having music communicate through worlds of sound that are in appearance so different and distant from one another.”
Un romano a Marte
was commissioned by Teatro dell’Opera of Rome.
Un romano a Marte.
Ennio e gli altri
Libretto by Giuliano Compagno
S., T., Bar., actor
18.104.22.168. / 2.2.2.-. / Harp, MIDI Keyboard / Perc (= perf.3) / Strings – Electronics
Image: Gianluigi Toccafondo