Orlando Furioso! is an unusual and fascinating project which brings together four electro-mechanical string instruments, a talking head, a drum which plays by itself, mechanisms all created by Roland Olbeter, all with real acoustic sound and autonomous movements, and as well as all this, a soprano. All of them will perform a staged/musical adaptation of the classic Orlando Furioso, by Ludovico Ariosto. Olbeter is the creator of a major part of the mechanisms and devices used by La Fura dels Baus in their performances and Michael Gross is the trumpet player and composer. He has collaborated with artists from Frank Zappa to Maricio Kagel and Stockhausen.
The adventurous complexity of Orlando Furioso!
Orlando Furioso! is made up of two fundamental aspects: firstly, the work of the instruments with real acoustic sound and autonomous movement, and then the composition and staging of a musical work for this ensemble, accompanied by a soprano, and based on the Italian Renaissance work, Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto.
The idea for this installation came from the evolution from other earlier sound pieces, created over recent years. Within this same line of work, we find creations of Marcel.lí Antúnez and La Fura dels Baus. In June 2003 in the SONAR festival in Barcelona, I presented four instruments I called “soundclusters” in MACBA. Seven professionals of electronic and contemporary music were each invited to programme a piece of 3 or 4 minutes.
The instruments make up a platform which the musicians can use to compose pieces thought out specially for the occasion. These are four string instruments, each with a different tuning, and a drum. Like any analogic instrument, each has its own sound and individual qualities which define its character. The most important differentiating element is the use of the E-BOW. As well as its robotic character, which obviously affects its sonority, the E-BOW is an electromagnetic system which makes the strings resonate. It takes the place of the traditional bow of a violin. Apart from the sonority, I place importance on trying to achieve complex and precise movements. Each of the five instruments moves around a central axis (the finger board) and a vertical axis (the sound tube).
Orlando Furioso is a fantasy which, with its many fantastic protagonists, profusion of impossible relationships, absurd wars and outrageous happenings, could inspire more than one film script. The libretto Concerto for String Quartet, Drum and Soprano chooses the stormy love story of Orlando, heroic paladin, and Angelica, daughter of the Emperor of China. Orlando appears as a hero and as a loser. His unrequited love obsesses him to such a degree that he goes mad with despair and becomes frantic. He rampages around and commits really terrible acts of violence. In the second part, Astolfo, son of the King of England and friend of Orlando, visits the moon. “In the universe nothing is lost. Where are things lost of earth to be found? On the moon”. Astolfo goes there to find Orlando’s lost wits, in order to restore him to sanity.
This fascinating story offers us an ideal environment for the five musical instruments in this work, which, just like the protagonists of Orlando Furioso, escapes from daily logic and vindicates the exceptional as the normal.
Idea, direction and instruments: Roland Olbeter
Composition: Michael Gross
Libretto: Ludovico Ariosto / Burkhart Kroeber
Mercat de les Flors
25 and 26 November 2005
Soprano: CLAUDIA SCHNEIDER
Animated illustrations: ESTERINA ZARRILLO
Head sculptor: CARLOS DE LA MADRID
Costumes: CHU UROZ
Lighting design PACO BELTRÁN
Technical project: PACO SANTIAGO
Technical coordination and development of the project: CARLOS JOVELLAR, E.B.A
Sound technician: CARLOS FESSER, PERA RIFÀ
Construction of sound tubes: CHRISTIAN KONN, E.B.A
Instrument construction: MASTERS
WWW-site and graphics: ALBERT CLARET, ISABEL DARNELL, PEP SALA
Drawing animation: LILIANA
Editing of drawings: MIGUEL RUBIO
Electronic circuits: ESTEVE AMO, IEA
Production and sale: MARTA PÉREZ PORRO
CARLOS PADRISSA: Consultation on staging
JOSÉ MARÍA MICÓ: Translation libretto
FRANCESC JORDÁN, Luthier
SIMEÓ UBACH, Aluminium casts
SANTIAGO BARBERO, SABAR
A PRODUCTION OF ROLAND OLBETER
COPRODUCED WITH THE FESTIVAL OF POCKET OPERA AND NEW CREATIONS
SPONSORS: SIEMENS AND FESTO
With the sponsorship of: MASTERS, PINMAR, TANDLER
With the support of: ADAGIO, CLAVIA