21 gennaio 2018, ore 17:30
Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano Besso
D’un opéra de voyage (1967)
per soprano e ensemble (prima esecuzione svizzera)
Rambles thru 44 The mysterious stranger by Mark Twain (2014)
per voce recitante e ensemble (prima esecuzione svizzera)
Betsy Jolas voce recitante
Carole Sidney Louis soprano
Il concerto è trasmesso dalla RSI in diretta radiofonica su Rete Due e in videostreaming
Betsy Jolas è una figura d’eccezione nel panorama della musica europea fin dalla sua affermazione nell’ambiente parigino dell’immediato dopoguerra, caratterizzato dal pensiero radicale del serialismo integrale.
I suoi studi con Darius Milhaud (compositore etichettato come “conservatore” anche se la sua apertura di spirito avrebbe dovuto farlo includere fra i “progressisti”) e la sua personalità originale non le impedirono in un primo momento un avvicinamento al movimento guidato da Pierre Boulez.
Ma la sua indipendenza di carattere, l’autonomia estetica e soprattutto il dominio del mestiere, la indirizzarono da subito a posizioni più autonome, più idonee all’espressione della sua voce personale sempre moderna, portandola a confrontarsi con tutti i generi musicali, incluso il mondo del teatro.
Siamo dunque estremamente felici di ospitarla nella nostra stagione come una delle più importanti personalità della avanguardia storica con l’augurio che la sua immaginazione sonora continui sempre a creare nuovi capolavori.
D'un opéra de voyage è stato composto e presentato per la prima volta nel 1967, come commissione della città di Royan (Francia) per il suo 4° Festival di Arte Contemporanea. Al contrario del mio Quartetto II (1964) in cui un soprano di coloratura prende la parte del primo violino, qui sono gli strumenti a fungere da voci: cantare, ridere, parlare o declamare; piangere, mormorare e sospirare ...
Il che conduce, naturalmente, all'evocazione musicale di una parte di vita ... o di sogno!
In breve, una specie di opera, ma senza scena, costumi, cantanti o trama; in “formato-Viaggio” per persone " per persone con poco tempo.
Fredons (“ronzii”) è, nella sera della mia lunga vita, l’evocazione della mia infanzia “bagnata” di canzoni cantate da mia madre. Così, dal vento della mia memoria ho scelto una dozzina di frammenti di canti popolari francesi e inglesi, tessuti per accompagnare una drammatica canzone creola del Bayou della Louisiana, che mia madre mi ha insegnato da bambina.
Fredons è stato composto e debuttato nel 2013 per celebrare il decimo anniversario dell'ensemble Utopik a Nantes (FR).
Si l’amour vous si grand, miché là(ter)
Faut plein l’argent,les poches.
Toutes mes cannes sont brûlées, Marianne(bis)
Et moi je suis ruiné.
Si cannes à vous brulées Miché là( ter)
L’amour aussi flambé !
Au joli mois de mai, vive la rose…
J’ai descendu dans mon jardin
Pour y cueillir du romarin
Gentils coquelicots mesdames
Gentils coquelicots nouveaux.
Gadez piti milatte là Miché Banjo
Comme il est insolent.
Chapeau su’l côté, Miché Banjo
Foulard à la poche Miché Banjo…
I had a little nut tree, nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg and a golden pear
Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh…
Fais dodo Colas mon petit frère
Fais dodo t’auras du lolo.
Dodo l’enfant do, l’enfant dormira bientôt.
Hush a bye baby on the tree top…
Marchand d’sable a passé dans les yeux de Bébé…
I wish I was a mole in th ground(bis)
If I was a mole in the ground,
I would root this mountain down…
Tutto è iniziato cadendo nell'incantesimo di questo straordinario ultimo romanzo di Mark Twain, in cui il grande scrittore commenta vividamente il suo ambiente sociale e religioso. Lo fa attraverso un racconto delle fantastiche avventure di un giovane e bellissimo Satana, apparso una mattina, nel lontano Medioevo, sulla soglia di una piccola tipografia sulle montagne dell'Austria.
Sfogliando l'intero romanzo con l'idea di preservare il più possibile le parole di Twain, ho scoperto che dovevo tralasciare molti dei miei momenti preferiti se volevo che questa nuova narrazione avesse un senso. Da qui il titolo: "Rambles" (“Divagazioni”).
Sapevo fin dall'inizio che volevo che questo "libretto" rimanesse intelligibile e il modo migliore per farlo era chiaramente che il testo fosse recitato e non cantato. A questo punto è stato facile indovinare che mi stavo dirigendo verso un melodramma. Il mio compito era quindi tracciare una stretta collaborazione tra il testo parlato e un quintetto strumentale.
Rambles è stato presentato per la prima volta nel 2015 (con me come narratore) al Tanglewood Music Center in occasione del suo 75mo anniversario.
RAMBLES thru 44 the Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain
Libretto by Betsy Jolas (2013)
Imagine an old ruined castle along a precipice, up in the mountains of Austria, way back in the Middle Ages.
This stately castle sems empty but if you wander inside, you'll find, hidden in one of the wings, my master's printing shop and living quarters for his family and staff, a group of about 20. I was part of it.
I remember our life up there was pretty monotonous: work, eat, drink sleep, work eat, drink sleep; until one morning...
One cold winter morning of the year 1490, suddenly appeared at our door a most forlorn looking youth. The war of talk ceased at once.
«What do you want here?» said the master's wife sharply.
«I am friendless, gracious lady, and so - hungry.
There was growing hostility in the air when the master finally spoke:
«What is your name, lad?»
The boy answered, quietly.
«Number 44, New Series 864,962.»
«It's a strange name» said the master.
«Jail number, likely!» murmured one of the printers.
A low buzz was heard down the hall: «The chap's a Jailbird !»
Well, the master hired him anyway .
Days went by .
44 - many still called him Jail-bird - 44 had gone to work immediately wincredible energy.
But then strange things began to happen.
One day he unchained the fierce watchdog, saying:
«Now behave yourself, Felix and don't hurt anyone.»
And that ignorant and malignant animal stood up on its hind feet and bowed to the master. Everyone gasped!
Days went by.
44 had proved himself an expert printer; yet he claimed he had never studied this trade.
This caused the men's increasing irritation, till finally they refused to work unless 44 was sent away.
As for me, well, I was a bit scared but admired his magic tricks. So I secretly befriended him…
Then life became very interesting. I discovered he could read my thoughts.
He even taught me how to go invisible.
Meanwhile, as I said, the men had voted a strike, causing a major dilemma for the master.
Till, once again, a miracle occured.
Without a human creature in sight, the entire printing work started going on by itself.
And all in sepulchral stillness.
Frightened? We were paralyzed ; we could'nt move a limb to get away; we could'nt even cross ourselves.
This was only a foretaste!
It was past eleven when the next miracle occurred.
A heavy step was heard down the hall, and yonder, in the door, appeared an exact duplicate of one of us.
It came marching up the room, agressive, decided, insolent, and said:
«There! how do you want that set, leaded or solid?»
«You bastard of black magic!», shouted the original printer «I'll...»
And the pair started hammering, banging, ramming each other like battering machines; till the duplicate screamed:
«Help, boys, help!»
And in the same moment, perfect duplicates of the rest of us came swarming in and plunged into the battle.
On and on they fought, on and on tlll the men turned upon 44 crying:
«Kill him, kill him!»
Oh dear! But the master joined in and stood them off.
We were told to return to our rooms, and pray all night that God would not lead 44 into further temptation.
But to my dismay, 44 was in one of his frivolous moods and not minded to pray...
«For the moment, he said, I am not living in this century, You pray, if you like, never mind».
Whereupon he pulled out a jews harp out of his pocket and began to play a most urgent and strenuous and vibrant kind of music, while violently springing.and swooping and swirling all up and down the room.
This fiendish orgy he performed over and over.
It was awful. I thought I would die, when all of a sudden:
«How do like the duplicates?» he said.
It was his common way, the way of a boy, careless, capricious, forever flitting and sampling here and there and yonder like a bee.
«Oh well, I said, they are not popular. They work for nothing. The men resent their intrusion»
It seemed to give 44 an evil delight.
«The duplicates are not real, he said, they are your dreamselves.»
We kept on talking like that most of the night.
In the morning 44 had disappeared but nobody seemed to care.
I for one, had even forgotten that 44 was in danger when...
BANG went a thunderclap, and there stood 44, beautifully dressed up as a fairy prince.
All sprang up with horror.
The next moment that slender figure stood transformed to a dazzling white fire.
In the succeeding moment it crumbled to ashes...
We buried the ashes in waste ground half a mile from the castle without prayer or blessing. It was a gusty night with flurries of snow. I walked back to my room feeling desperately sad.
Oh Lord! There sat the corpse.
My sense forsook me. I was starting away, terrified; but it put up it's hand and flipped it's fingers toward me: «Come back» it said, in a voice I knew and which was music my ears:«Come back, I'm alive again, It's not a ghost.»
I returned trembling, still wondering whether he had really died, but he guessed my thought:
«It was'nt an illusion» he said, fetching a hot supper from my empty cupboard,
«I have done it many times»
The supper was strange but heavenly.
«Hot from America» he said
«It’s a country.»
«Oh away off. It has'nt been discovered yet. 1490 ? Not quite!»
«Been there? Yes, in the past, in the present, in the future...»
Our conversation continued even while constant fights and quarrels went on between the men and theiir duplicates.
44 and I went about, having a good time, visible to each other but to no one else.
«Now then, draw up to the table» he would say «We'll have Vienna coffee of two centuries hence. It is the best in the world; buckwheat cakes from Missouri, vintage of 1845; French eggs of last century, and deviled breakfast-whale of the post pliocenee, when he was whitebait size and just too delicious.
I tried to divert his attention to less frivolous subjects. He said he was interested in the human race. But he had nettled me so often by seeming to speak of it slightingly that finally one day, I said, acidly:
«You don't seem to think much of the human race; it's a pity you have to belong to it.»
«What makes you think I belong to it?»
What could I say?
«This is a new and fearful idea: a person who is a person and yet not a human being. I have never dreamed of so tremendous, so amazing a thing. Since you are not a human being, what are you?»
«Now then, he said, things which have puzzled you heretofore are not a mystery to you any more, for you are now aware that there is nothing I cannot do, and that the difference between me and a human being is as the difference between a drop of water and the sea, a rushlight and the sun; the difference between the infinitely trivial and the infinitely sublime! I say, we will be comrades and have scandalous good times.»
I said I was in awe of him and more moved to pay him reverence than to
«Reverence, he mocked, put it away!»
Then he added:
«I have often visited this world; often. It shows that I felt an interest in the human race, mmm?
It's a race by itself, and in many ways... amusing!»
Ah, this was too much!
But he was gone.
Weeks went by. Where was he? I kept remembering how he was always doing and saying strange things and leaving them half explained or not explained at all. Who was he? Where was he from? Could he be converted?
I was thus cogitating when he appeared, even more beautifully clad than before.
He said he had been home. Then he added with no transition:
«Come, I'll show you something fabulous. Listen! (bell toll)
I started counting the clock-strokes : 8 – 9 – 10 – 11 ...
Then 44 shouted:
«Backward, turn backward O time, in thy flight
Make me a child again just for tonight» (Elizabeth Allen 1832 -1911)
And he added:
«Look at the clock- hands. Listen!»
Instantly, I found myself counting the strokes again, aloud :
11 -10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 -4 – 3 – 2 – 1
«Listen, he said again, hands-clock the at look;
Flight thy in Time O backward turn..Backward».
My brain was spinning. I rose reeling and was falling lifeless when 44 caught me.
Then I fell asleep.
When I woke again, the clock had been going back for days, months, years.
44 and I, invisible, loafed around the globe.
Everywhere, weary people were rechattering previous conversations backwards and not understanding each other. There were groups gazing miserably at the town clocks. In every city funerals were being held again and the processions were marching solemnly backwards.Yesterday's battles were being refought, wrong end first. The previously killed were getting killed again. At Rouen we saw Henry I gathering together his split skull.
Then 44 said he wanted to flit back to Mose's time.
First there was awful darkness; then a breath of cold air came drifting along, cold damp, smelling of the grave. Then I heard a faint clicking sound coming slowly nearer and nearer, and louder and louder, till all the place was filled with a dry, sharp clacking.
Then a vague twilight suffused the place and, through it, we made out the spidery dim forms of skeletons marching. Each skeleton had a tab on him giving his name, date and life story. (This was a good idea, it saved asking questions).
Pharaoh was there, and David and Goliath and several other sacred characters; and Adam and Eve, and some of the Caesars and Cleopatra and Charlemagne; and kings and kings and kings from centuries back.
But the skeletons of Adam's predecessors outnumbered all the others by myriads. They rode upon undreamt-of monsters, ten thousand abreast, our walls receding and melting away to give them room.
Among them was the Missing Link. That is what 44 called him. He was an undersized skeleton perched upon a long-tailed, long-necked creature ninety feet long and thirty three feet high, that had been dead eight million years, 44 said.
For hours and hours, the dead passed by in continental masses and the boneclacking was deafening.
Then, all of a sudden, 44 waved his hand and we stood in an empty and soundless world.
«And you are going away and will not come back anymore?»
«Yes, he said, we have comraded long together and it has been pleasant; but I must go now, and we shall not see each other anymore.»
«In this life ,44... but we shall meet in another, surely, 44?»
Then, all tranquilly and soberly, he made this strange answer :
«There is no other»...
del Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana
Flauti Petra Arman, Anna Pallavicini, Elisa Persoz
Oboe Alessandro Rauli
Clarinetti Alba Dominguez Delgado, Rui Pedro França Ferreira, Laura Garcia Itarte, Erik Kuret, Lorenzo Paini
Fagotto Vincenzo Bellissimo
Sax Barbara Aeschbacher
Corno Sayoa Loinaz
Tromba Pietro Sciutto
Trombone Francesco Parini (ospite)
Tuba Marco Anastasio
Percussioni Alberto Toccaceli, Tommaso Pietro Tola, Diego Verzeroli, Paolo Fratello, Fabio Giannotti (ospite), Luciano Zampar (ospite)
Arpe Arianna Rossi, Cecilia Zacchi
Pianoforte Alessio Zuccaro
Violini Elisa Spremulli, Renato Orciuoli
Viole Géssica Dos Santos Sant’Ana
Violoncelli Enrico Mignani. Alejandro Olóriz Soria
Contrabbassi Jonas Ernesto Villegas Sciara