A-Ronne II & Cena Furiosa

22, 23, 24, 25, 26 / 05
Duration: ± 2h00

Two works will be performed in the course of one evening. In 1974, Luciano Berio composed a zany vocal piece for radio, based on Eduardo Sanguineti’s disordered collage that uses famous quotations by political pundits, mystics, poets and philosophers. At the start of the Baroque period, Monteverdi was experimenting with the operatic form in his madrigals, the most theatrical of which are those of war and love. Berio asserts that he was inspired by Monteverdi when composing A-Ronne. The actors in A-Ronne II and the singers in Cena furiosa devote themselves successively to the disruptions created by these two resonating pieces. When the body begins to tremble, the contradictory moods lie dormant in the words and notes. For Ingrid von Wantoch Rekowski, theatre is beneath the skin, disconcertingly, creating a work of infinite jolts.

A-Ronne II

Musique/Muziek/Music: Luciano Berio, A-Ronne, une pièce radiophonique d'après un poème de/een radiospel naar een gedicht van/a radio piece based on a poem by Edoardo Sanguineti

Concept et mise en scène/Concept en regie/Concept and direction: Ingrid von Wantoch Rekowski

Acteurs/Actors: Dominique Grosjean, Patrick Lerch, Caroline Petrick, Pietro Pizzuti, Annette Sachs
Eclairages/Belichting/Lighting: Ivan Fox, Ingrid von Wantoch Rekowski

Coiffeuse/Kapster/Hairdressing: Nathalie Mattheeuws

Maquillage/Make-up/Make-up: Joëlle Carpentier

Production/Productie/Production: Asbl Trimaran

Coproduction/Coproductie/Coproduction: Bellone-Brigittines (Bruxelles/Brussel)

Avec le soutien de/Met de steun van/Supported by: Ministère de la Culture de la Communauté française en Belgique, service du théâtre et de la musique.

Cena Furiosa

Musique/Muziek/Music: Claudio Monteverdi, Madrigali guerrieri e amorosi : Book VIII (Altri canti d'amor, Lamento della Ninfa, Hor ch'el ciel e la terra, Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda); Book VII (Tirsi e Clori)

Direction musicale/Muzikale leiding/Musical direction: Yvon Repérant

Mise en scène et scénographie/Regie en scenografie/Direction and scenography: Ingrid von Wantoch Rekowski

Assistant à la mise en scène/Regie-assistent/Assistant to the director: Ferdinand du Bois

Chanteurs/Zangers/Singers: Paul Agnew, José Canales, Nicolas Domingues, Boris Grappe, Nicki Kennedy, Emma Lyren

Orchestre/Orkest/Orchestra: Ensemble Repères Baroques

Eclairages/Belichting/Lighting: Yves Godin

Costumes/Kostuums/Costumes: Christophe Pidré

Production/Productie/Production: Festival international d'art lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence

Coproduction/Coproductie/Coproduction: La Monnaie/De Munt (Bruxelles/Brussel), KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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The work of art is no longer an object whose well-founded beauty we contemplate, but a mystery to discover, a duty to fulfil, a stimulant for the imagination. Imposing just one interpretation on the ‘viewer’ has to be avoided. The work is an invitation, neither demanding nor univocal, to a free integration into a world that remains the world desired by the creator. In psychology and phenomenology, this is called ‘perceptive ambiguities’, the opportunity we have to place ourselves beyond the conventions of knowledge, to seize the world in its freshness, before all the stabilising effects of habituation and habit.

Umberto Eco, Opera aperta [The Open Work], Points/Essais, Seuil, 1962

The art of criticism is one that starts a crisis, that tears apart, that cracks the surface, splits the crust of language, undoes and dilutes the glueyness of everything that surrounds us, such as a given milieu – our era, our class, our career. Changing what is given can only occur with a jolt. The shock is clean and discreet, rapid, repeated if necessary, but never ongoing. There is cited, referential and reverential knowledge but there is also another knowledge, more distant and paradoxical, that disturbs the laws of the former. It renders it futile and miniature by the strange nature and enlargement of the detail. That knowledge shakes the concept of ‘it stands to reason’, denaturalising and amazing itself.

Roland Barthes, Le bruissement de la langue [The Rustle of Language], Essais critique IV, Points/Essais, Seuil, 1984

July 1999. Ingrid von Wantoch Rekowski created Cena Furiosa at the Festival International d’art lyrique in Aix en Provence, one of Europe's major opera festivals and responsible for its original production. A co-production initiated by the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts, in partnership with La Monnaie, the project is part of the Festival’s Monteverdi cycle, which began in May 1998 in Brussels with American choreographer Trisha Brown and South African visual artist William Kentridge. Aimed at encouraging people to ‘take another look’ at the ‘genre of opera’, the cycle continued in 2000 with Argentina’s El Periférico de Objetos and Italy’s Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio. Its intention was to get contemporary artists from different disciplines to make contact with the work of this great, innovative composer, the man who created the first real form of opera in the history of the genre.

After El Periférico and Sanzio, Ingrid von Wantoch is aiming to follow on from Monteverdi’s madrigals of war and love, selecting Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda as her final piece. She became known throughout Europe for her inspired production of A-Ronne, a vocal ‘documentary’ by Luciano Berio, which drew its fantastical inspiration from the construction of the Monteverdian madrigal. In Brussels, the director will be offering her 1996 work on A-Ronne and a new condensed version of Cena Furiosa, both performed during the course of the same evening. She will attempt to reveal the close resonances that exist between Berio and Monteverdi. The Belgian actors who performed in A-Ronne II also acted in Cena Furiosa in Aix, but they will not be appearing in this version now in Brussels. The singers alone, following the role they will play first in A-Ronne II, a form of theatre to be listened to, will perform in Cena, as both actors in the madrigals and spectators of their contradictory emotions.

In Luciano Berio’s score, his ‘librettist’ Edoardo Sanguineti has used a language of sounds borrowed from existing languages (quotations from Dante, Marx/Engels, St. John/Luther, Goethe, T.S. Eliot, Barthes), assembling them according to a totally disconcerting logic. Berio then had fun inserting polyglot quotations, disorganised in a sonorous, rhythmical and musical polyphony according to extremely strict rules that no longer bear any relation to their original context, rules that also leave a large part of improvisation to the performers. This vocal play, conceived for radio in 1974, is complete insanity, intelligent, exhilarating, irresistibly absurd, off the wall and… impossible to perform. “I’ve always been captivated by things that are impossible for the stage”, replies Ingrid, “because it is precisely at times like this that something new can emerge!”

Ingrid von Wantoch has been fascinated by acting techniques for a long time, fascinated by the quality of the actor’s physical presence. “In life, when people express themselves, you can read a whole range of impulses on their bodies – these don’t emerge from the meaning of the words they use, it’s their body that throws light on the motivations deep within them. Far too often in theatre we have an interpretation of the world imposed on us that determines the many meanings of things! I prefer to look for human reality in the concrete form of flesh, examining it under a magnifying glass, working on the physical details.”

Averse to all forms of literalness and illustration, Ingrid is fascinated by the structure of music. “A musical score organises emotions ‘differently’. Musical composition doesn’t tell the story in a realistic way. Luciano Berio sets the voices in motion and creates incredibly theatrical situations (struggles for power, for love, high-society conversations…), a kind of choir of individuals who are not confined within the bounds of a story or a defined character. When working with the actors, we started off with the unknown terrain of the musical score, keen to explore and compose, like we have here, a language of everyday movements removed from their habitual use. Just having the music of voices and their bodies generated unexpected conditions and the most bizarre situations…”

“With Monteverdi, this standpoint is reversed – the singer is already in the music, it is his terrain. Nowadays his music seems harmonious and sublime, but in those days it was unprecedented and sounded dissonant. For me dissonance is associated with beauty – discomfort and turmoil open up new perspectives to us. Monteverdi doesn’t seem dissonant now. How can we remain faithful to him but direct his work towards a field other than that of singing?” His madrigals were written at a time of transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque. It was a time of change, of uncertainties, when light was shaded by darkness, the metaphysical void was filled with decorative abundance and Monteverdi rendered war inseparable from love and love from death. The composer extolled the violent contrast in emotions with music. At the same time, painting began to idealise Mannerism.

So Ingrid von Wantoch turned to paintings depicting the human body from the unsettled period at the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries. They show a contrast in light, pale skin, contorted hands and stretched bodies that seem to lose materiality in order to attain an elusive mobility. “Painting reorganises emotions differently too. With the Mannerists, the body is ‘affected’ by contortion. It assumes contradictory meanings – the direction of a look contradicts the direction of the torso, arms adopt opposing poses.” In the past, affectation indicated strong desire and an intense quest to assuage it. Mannerism lent the human form a lack of tranquillity by displaying opposing tensions. Ingrid von Wantoch will be using the singers’ bodies to breathe life back into Baroque dissonance.

Working with actors she knew, the director composed a physical language for this Mannerist second nature. She is continuing to work on its development with the singers – they will be the sublime transmitters and physical receivers of the tensions that the birth of their singing creates. She structures the chaos in the space like a strange still life with the banqueting table, the pedestal for the model to be painted and the stage. All the guests at this raging feast, this ‘Cena furiosa’, are brought together, as it is said that initially these works were performed at court before an audience of princes and courtiers seated at their dining tables. Ingrid is throwing herself into the allegory of Baroque ‘Vanities’ which are riven to such an extent that tensions emerge in the refined music, sublimated. Is it a question of such perfect song emerging from the imperfect body or human imperfection generating so much beauty sung?

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