Double world premiere blooming in Germany for Lucia Ronchetti this spring: her new stage work for young audience Das fliegende Klassenzimmer, commissioned by Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf-Duisburg with performances next May and June at Theater Duisburg, and the choral opera Chronicles of Loneliness, a huge project with 150 male singers, inspired by the work of Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi, to be premiered at Festival ACHT BRÜCKEN Musik für Köln.
Das fliegende Klassenzimmer
Opera in 12 scenes for soli, vocal ensemble, choir and orchestra (2020-2021)
Libretto by Friederike Karig after Erich Kästner
Commissioned by Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf-Duisburg
WP: 14.05.2023 Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf-Duisburg
Duration: 90 mins
The students of the Johann-Sigismund Gymnasium are preparing a drama called The Flying Classroom written by one of them, Johnny. During the last four days of rehearsing, there are struggles within the group of the students of the Gymnasium and between them and the ones of the Realschule. At the beginning, then, the ideal school described by the students in their theater project contrasts with their violent daily life. Afterwards, the The flying class takes progressively the priority and influences the reality. In the end, the idealized school and the real one seem to overlap.
All the characters stay always on stage, together with the choir, representing the ensemble of the other students. The musicians on stage are also part of the students rehearsing the theatre piece. Everybody is in action and continuously gets into new conflicts, like in a sort of agitated mega-kaleidoscope, always turning. Progressively, then, each character seems to find the ideal position and balance and participates to the creation of a beautiful and intense fresco about friendship.
The global musical structure is based on a very fast andamento, with improvvisi happening and accelerating rhythmical patterns, like in an ancient popular dance bringing all the people together to panic or ecstasy. The composition is an attempt to see the plot from the perspective of the five young boys, facing their solitude and the difficult life of the boarding school, and dragged on by a series of complicated events.
The choir represents the other boys, the mass of hyper-active students living and studying in the college. They observe, comment and react, condemning, shouting, laughing, like a little public within the opera, an invited group of spectators looking at the surprising show conjured by the five protagonists.
The two adult characters, Justus and Nichtraucher, represent the reflexive and experienced observers, both including different reflections by Erich Kästner. They act following another andamento and their vocal interventions are meditative and operatic.
The theater piece project is a moment of dream and suspension of the real life of the boys. As theater in the theater, it is the Mise en abyme and the more refined mirror of the special life’s experience of the five boys.
The music, through elaborations from popular and old musical fragments, shows the need of the students to escape reality, their search of ideals, their dream to fly in other times, together with their futuristic imagination of a sci-fi new world.
Chronicles of Loneliness
Choral opera for male children choir, male vocal ensemble, male choir, male amateur choir, 1 male horn player, 1 male trumpet player, 1 male trombone player
Libretto by Lucia Ronchetti after Leopardi’s Zibaldone di pensieri (1817-1832)
Drammaturgy by Konrad Kuhn
Commissioned by ACHT BRÜCKEN | Musik für Köln
WP: 30.04.2023, Kölner Philharmonie, Festival ACHT BRÜCKEN Musik für Köln
Duration: 50 mins
Chronicles of loneliness is a dramaturgical studio on the solitude and social isolation of the young people, starting from the reflections and testimonies written by Giacomo Leopardi in his notebooks known as Zibaldone di pensieri.
The voice of Leopardi is represented by every singer on stage, intersected by the various choral unities. They are a multitude of solos and soloists, each one with his own vocal identity. Leopardi is represented as a Hikikomori of the past reflecting on his existential experience in a philosophical and poetical reportage, looking though his Recanati’s window as a screen.
The multitude of performers and players on stage will be portrayed in different attitudes, from the awaking to the sleep, sketching out different days of feverish solitude. They will be immersed in their own reflections, surrounded by the sounds of urban or natural locations, sound-landscapes summoned by the choral ensemble as tutti. According to the Zibaldone, sleep is a magical moment. It reminds of a momentary death, saving from the troubles of life, repairing its damages.
The singers as vocal ensemble and choral ensemble, realize a wide sound-landscape in continuous mutation, animated by short events representing the inner activity of reflection and meditation: the social withdrawal and silence chosen by many young people. They express their feeling through Leopardi’s text, with his epic and elegiac temperamento.
The result is a cruel but delicate sound landscape that shows the ability of Leopardi’s language to create deep poetry just looking at the bare reality, searching from the beautiful and sacred side of the real world.
The male children choir and the male vocal ensemble gives voice to some “aria del sonno” (Sleep aria) from baroque opera, while the other choirs represent an a cappella comment and reaction to the sleep. The sleep’s scene in the baroque opera is a dramatic device that creates an abnormal state of suspension, a diffused disbelief that generate unique musical expressions. The “music suggesting sleep” as Monteverdi defined it, is a fantastic occasion for the baroque composer to create melodic lines, slow and hesitant, a deformation of the normal timing, with circular, repetitive recurrences, sustained by unheard harmonic oscillations and do represent a great object of compositional analysis and treatment of the old fragments for the new work.
The brass trio represents the Deus ex machina. It could be described as a sort of ambivalent angel, looking from the outside at this ensemble of young and old people lost, isolated, in voluntary torpor.
They move everywhere through the scenic space and try to bring back to life them from this inner torpor.
Photo: © Vanessa Francia