Title: Il Parlatore eterno (en. The eternal speaker)
Line-up: Baritone and seven pianos
Release date: 2006
Lenght: 30 min.
Premiere: June, 28th 2006 Teatro della Fortuna Fano, Italy
Commissioner: Rassegna Lirica Torelliana
Players: Bruno Taddia (baritone); pianists: Mario Mariani, Mario Totaro, Andrea Corazziari, Ramzi El-Hakim, Franca Moschini, Stefano Spinetti, Carlo Morganti; stage director: Francesco Calcagnini
Composer’s notes: The main inspiration to this particular rewriting of the opera with the same name by Ponchielli’s one came from the literal interpretation of the title. “Speaker”: he who speaks. Lelio Cinguetta, a “solipsistic logorrhoeic”, who speaks incessantly, being total indifferent to the listener, having only himself as reference. “Eternal”: without time, beyond time. Here we are referring to the last survivor of mankind who, eternally (like in a sort of “eternal present”), tells and re-tells day after day the same story about his lover: Susetta, created by his own mind. A film in which he is the protagonist, director and his own audience.
So how about translating these “coordinates” into music?
I left the original libretto by Ghislanzoni almost intact such as Ponchielli’s melodic line, then dropped all the harmonization, singers, choir and orchestra as well.
The result was to choose the soloist/solipsistic instrument par excellence, the piano and multiply it– like the hypertrophic ego of the protagonist – by seven.
This playful ensemble is an ideal background for the protagonist’s insanity, often underlining his lack of original thoughts with the use of musical quotations, become very important for the composition process. For instance, the leit-motiv of “Tristan und Isolde” by Wagner, shortly quoted into musical sections, surprisingly overlapped for several bars; the pre-dodecaphonic Sonata op.1 by Alban Berg, quoted for 10 bars and the Scherzo from IInd symphony by Mahler. The complete theme of Innocent when you dream by Tom Waits was entirely “overdubbed” on Ponchielli’s original music just before the soloist cadenza.
In addition to the great amount of musical timbres that seven pianos can produce, by playing “sulla tastiera”, there are lots of musical trademarks often “familiar” to contemporary music audiences, like playing on the strings with plectrums, using unusual objects like a cappuccino shaker, whip and many toy instruments, paying particular attention to the rhythmical and percussive elements.