AUGUSTIN – Pantomima in tre quadri da Hermann Bahr
from Der liebe Augustin by Hermann Bahr
con Giorgia Arena, Valentina Bonci, Roberta Bonora, Sofia Brocani, Giorgio Castagna, Daniele Cavone Felicioni, Benedetta Corà, Alessio Del Mastro, Beatrice Festi, Elisa Franchi, Sabrina Fraternali, Riccardo Livermore, Marco Lo Chiatto, Alice Melloni, Ilaria Mustardino, Mariagrazia Pompei, Agostino Rocca, Chiara Sarcona, Maria Sessa, Marouane Zotti
assistant to dramaturgy Alessia Matrisciano
assistant to music dramaturgy Davide Tortorelli
assistant director Antonio Carnevale, Chiara Girlando
light design Claudio Coloretti
costumes Elisabetta Zinelli
assistenti to costumes Alessia Matrisciano, Ilaria Mustardino
make up Ippolita Signorelli
directed by Monique Arnaud and Orazio Sciortino
Augustin is the first representation ever of Der liebe Augustin by Hermann Bahr, wrote in 1902.
Augustin, the title character, is a traditional austrian figure: a happy bagpipe player that in the seventeenth century would go from tavern to tavern to cheer up the people with his music. The legend says that in 1679, during Vienna’s plague, Augustin fell asleep on the road while drunk; the corpse carriers thought he was dead, and picked him up to throw the corpse in a mass grave. He saved himself thanks to his bagpipe: rescuers heard its sound and found him. But the Hermann Bahr’s Augustin is quite different: he’s a young, bony and idealistic musician. His idealism will be shaken by his encounters with greedy women, a dull bourgeoisie and a corrupted humanity. Finally, he will meet the Devil himself, incarnation of the dark power of money. The “damned money”, as Bahr defines it, is the real social plague that rottens and kills a whole civilization, is the most actual and important question of this opera.
With Augustin we are staging a conflict between pure feeling as love desider and what seems the easiest way to obtain it, that is economical power. With that power you can even buy men’s approval, like trade goods. Our leading character, turned into a rich man by a spell, will enter the shiny and glossy hell that is society based on appearances. But our Augustin is a complicated character. This young potential hero will turn out to be different from what we expect, as the story will disclose.
In between pantomime and choreography, Augustin emphasize the ensemble more than the single character. The twenty actors on stage create and change the space and the dramatic situations. They give life to a kaleidoscopic show, by chaging their temper, their costumes and by moving the few scenographic elements that are on stage. Augustin is original not just because of its story. It is also a rare operation of rediscovery of a genre, the pantomime. This genre lives exclusively on music and body movements, mantaining a strong narrative structure without become performing art or dance. Even if it is almost unknown in Italy, it can be of great help in training comunicative immediacy.
Before being a playwright, Herman Bahr was an excellent essayist and a cultural promoter. He gathered a group of authors and intellectuals called Jungwein. Their main battle was a criticism against naturalism. Hoffmansthal and Schnitzler were two of the many members of this group. Bahr was part of every major artistic movement between ‘800 and ‘900, as expressionism and neo romanticism. He was an relentless observer of reality, interested on issues as individual and sexual freedom, curious about a new science, psicology. In 1902 Richard Strauss refused to compose the music for Augustin: this is why this pantomime was never put in music. The musical dramaturgy is completely new, though respectful of Bahr’s indications. It is made assembling Alfred Schnittke’s music, in particular suites that were composed for the movies Agony, Clowns and Kids, Story of an Unknown Actor, the suite for theatre Gogol Suite and the Suite in the Old Style.
Music and acting were directed with the goal of researching a new union between action and music.