Falstaff Lexiturgy

P. A Skantze (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formPerformance

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American director Peter Sellars asserts that ‘opera is our most popular theatrical form’ inspiring my own practice research where I seek to develop a new, diverse and intrigued audience for opera. In September 2017 the artistic director of the National Theatre of Croatia in Rijeka Marin Blazevic and I discussed a new form of textual intervention for opera, something to be invented, something that would vibrantly signal the inseparability of the libretto from the sung notes. But no, this is precisely the kind of thing we say/write--the inseparable words, the sung notes-- when we are trying to articulate a collaboration more subtle than written description seems to allow for. What we talked of was something more, something that made plain that it was not that these components were inseparable, it was that they were partners in play: taking centerstage [Falstaff-like] and ceding it, an intertwining of comic, poignant and joyful which simply could not exist unless we the audience perceived how they, the words and the notes, circled one another in interdependent orbit.
While I am adamant that the contemporary notion of the text as a burden damages the richness and complexity of performance, I am not naïve about the complicated relation spectators have to text. With an enormous projection space—a red fire curtain left down for most of the opera--for the text, we chose to have a Croatian translation and the Italian libretto appear side by side, as if on a page. The pages turned as the action proceeded. The interventions were made with circles, underlining, change of fonts, commentary that appeared at strategic moments as well as pointed asides appearing suddenly on the screen as the action/singing continued.
Without exaggeration, I have never been in a theatre for opera where the sense of rising expectation, of joy, of participation was so clear. The work begun with Falstaff in 2018 now builds into my own directorial project, Scoring Macbeth, a mix of speaking and singing with Shakespeare and Verdi scheduled for October/November 2020 when the Falstaff opera trilogy will mark Rijeka’s celebration as Cultural Capital of Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Media of outputFilm
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2018

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