Mise en abyme is a chamber opera reproducing the preparation (the days before the premiere) of the Didone abbandonata, the opera seria created by Domenico Sarro and Pietro Metastasio in 1724 for the Teatro San Bartolomeo in Naples.
On the occasion of the premiere, as Intermezzo, Sarro and Metastasio presented the L’Impresario delle Canarie, hilarious but realistic sung dialogue between a disreputable opera impresario and an adventurous soprano, a short opera buffa to be performed during the interval. In Mise en abyme, the public will be faced with Metastasio himself and his staff, together with the ensemble of serio singers preparing the Didone abbandonata and the buffo singers preparing L’Impresario delle Canarie.
There is an extensive collection of letters Metastasio wrote during his long life, which describe his stage directions, writing process and theories, and which report judgments and ideas about friends, enemies and collaborators. This will be the material for the “open discussion” among the characters, "filmed" during the preparation of the premiere.
The vocal quartet will embody the web of reflections and doubts of Metastasio and his team, in continuous interaction with him.
The presence on stage of Metastasio as dramaturge and director, sharing his ideas and intuitions with his staff, while transforming the concept of music theatre, will provide an opportunity to attempt a “play within the play”. In 18th-century musical productions, this was the instrument of a possible mediation between conventional genres and the occasion of a sort of dialogue with the audience.
Metastasio will be shown in the midst of his “opera-making”, like an 18th-century Fellini working on his own “8½”