Artistic Direction

BIENNALE MUSICA 2021-CHORUSES-Tese dei Soppalchi-Cabizza-Navas-Francesconi

Maria Vincenza Cabizza (1991), The difference between being and staying (2021) world premiere

Manuel Hidalgo Navas (1998), Ir (2021) world premiere

Luca Francesconi (1956), Herzstück for vocal ensemble (2012, 27’) Italian premiere

Vocal ensemble: Neue Vocalsolisten: Johanna Vargas high soprano, Susanne Leitz-Lorey soprano, Truike van der Poel mezzo, Martin Nagy tenor, Guillermo Anzorena baritone, Andreas Fischer bass
Production: CIMM Centro di Informatica Musicale e Multimediale – La Biennale di Venezia

Maria Vincenza Cabizza develops the text of The difference between being and staying, for five-part vocal ensemble, as a random collage of press cuttings relating to all those peoples struggling for their own survival. The fragmentation of the phrases, from which we hear only isolated words, is designed to create the illusion of a fleeting understanding and of an apparent change in meaning. On the performative level, in the foreground it is the bass who dominates both on the concert platform and in the music, while in the background the other four voices intone harmonies on a text in constant movement which distorts the sense of the messages being expressed by the bass. The four shadows slowly gain the upper hand and the bass is forced gradually to muteness as his flow of words fades into purely lip movements, as if he is trying to convey a message that no longer belongs to him.

Manuel Hidalgo Navas chooses the sonnet ir y quedarse by Lope de Vega for his piece for vocal quintet entitled ir. The feelings of loneliness, loss, unease and frustration of the lover in the absence of the beloved are conveyed by the Spanish poet by means of various linguistic expedients ranging from the use of the infinitive to emphasise the effect of immobility to the use of oxymorons and chiasmi to enhance the sense of loneliness and suffering. The music develops two principal ideas: on one hand, the emergence of a complex soliloquy for five voices, and on the other the game of opposites. As in the other two compositions in the programme, in this, too, there is an element of theatricality, not just on the concert platform, but manifest also in the musical treatment of the voices. Emerging from a cloud of noises, in their materiality the voices confront the text, imparting to it a definite form. Playing with the double role of language – at once a constricting cage made up of words and a means of communication – the music gives life back to the words of the poet and confers on them new meanings.

Two characters without names or identities. Two numbers: One and Two. One: “May I lay my heart at your feet?” Two: “If you don’t soil my floor.” One: “My heart is pure.” Two: “We’ll see about that.” This is the dry humour of a dialogue of surreal flavour suspended between sentimental nonsense and Elizabethan cruelty which is all over in eleven lines of cynical humour. This is Herzstück, a drama of the heart but also a piece of heart, which the playwright Heiner Müller penned at the beginning of the 1980s. As in the case of his opera Quartett of only a year earlier, Luca Francesconi turned again to the works of the German dramatist for the material for his own Herzstück, composed for the six voices of the Neue Vocalsolisten and premiered by them at the Theaterhaus Stuttgart during the 2012 edition of the ECLAT Festival. Müller’s brief dialogue is re-proposed in six short sections, each offering a different viewpoint on the dramatic material following a slender narrative thread in which the six interpreters are as- signed different roles.
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