LA CUZZONI, The Monstrous Voice
The shining career of Francesca Cuzzoni begins when Handel discovers her and brings her into the Royal Academy of Music. Her talent and character TURN her into a legendary diva, while he real fame comes to her in Europe in 1727 when, in the middle of a performance in the King’s Theatre in London, she gets into a fight with Faustina Bordoni.
Her luxurious style of life gets her into such debt that she ends up behind bars on two occasions. La Cuzzoni of Agustí Charles and Marc Rosich is an opera of dramatic content: a cruel and forceful portrait of this stone-broke old glory who returns to London to give a concert for charity… but charity for whom?
LA CUZZONI by Marc Rosich
My almost pathological fascination for opera has always been united with a feeling of incredulity faced with the absurd artifice which this art represents for me, the sum of many arts in a strange sort of alchemistic combination. It is logical, then, when the festival asked me to write a libretto, that I thought of paying homage to this fabulous enormity which for me, is opera, this world where dramas reach a happy or tragic end through exhibitions of vocal virtuosity, and where extreme passions, more appropriate to television series, become noble when cloaked in music.
For a long time, always being a bit batty about Handel, I have been entertaining the idea of dedicating a piece to one of the muses of this master of the baroque, La Cuzzoni, a diva with a histrionic curriculum and memorably decadent end, a diva who is a real monster, a character full of possibilities as the protagonist of an entire opera. It was not my intention, however, to produce an overly dramatic reading of her life, neither from the point of view of the music, nor the dramaturgy. On the contrary, what ended up interesting us, Agustí Charles, the composer, and me, was to offer an ironic view of the strict baroque forms, seen from today’s languages. Agustí’s music has been of supreme importance, trying to inject rhythm and life into the decadent world outlined in the pages of the libretto, and managing to extract from a small ensemble (a string quartet and three singers) the last ounce of dramatic force and sound contrasts. The sporadic references to Handel, then, navigate strangely, within a challenging score, which, for me, is a leafy forest of stimulating notations.
That in the end of the story La Cuzzoni has found a “fairy godmother” in the artistic ensemble of the Staatstheater Darmstadt has been an added incentive for the project which, for both Agustí and me, has been one of a great challenge, as to tell the truth, it is our first approach to the total creation of an opera of a new type, and the first time that we have tasted the fruits of this mysterious alchemy between text, stage and music.
Music: Agustí Charles
Libretto: Marc Rosich
L´Auditori / Sala Tete Montoliu
9 and 10 November 2007
Musical direction: TOBIAS ENGELI
Stage direction: ALFONSO ROMERO
Performers: SOLOISTS OF THE STAATSTHEATER DARMSTADT, GERMANY
La Cuzzoni when old: GERSON LUIZ SALES (countertenor)
La Cuzzoni when young: SONJA GERLACH (soprano)
Charles Burney: WERNER VOLKER MEYER (baritone)
Scenography: INNA WÖLLERT
Costumes: JOSÉ MANUEL VÁZQUEZ
Dramaturgy: KAREN DIETRICH
Photo: IGNACIO GARCIA
Production: STAATSTHEATER DARMSTADT
Coproduction: L’AUDITORI AND FESTIVAL ÒPERA DE BUTXACA I NOVES CREACIONS-FOBNC
With the collaboration of: INSTITUT RAMON LLULL
With the support of: GOETHE-INSTITUT BARCELONA AND LUFTHANSA