The young professional actors of Casa degli Artisti have explored physical theatre led by Michela Lucenti and Balletto Civile in the perfomance Sonnets Dance #121; they have worked on contemporary drama with Monica Nappo and on classical tragedy with Elisabetta Pozzi. Now their studies and training come to an end: with the direction of Caterina Vianello and Bruno De Franceschi they will perform in The Beggar’s Opera, the masterpiece created by John Gay.
The performance took place on January 13th and 14th.
THE BEGGAR’S OPERA
by John Gay
music by Johann Christoph Pepusch
Francesco Bianchi, Davide Gagliardini, Carlo Galiero, Silvia Lamboglia, Dino Lopardo, Davide Mancini, Michele Mazzone, Eleonora Pace, Gian Marco Pellecchia, Giulia Pizzimenti, Alessio Praticò, Arianna Primavera, Elisabetta Scarano, Carlo Sella, Francesca Tripaldi, Marianna Valentino, Salvatore Iaia (cello, banjo)
dramaturgy and libretto Francesco Bianchi, Carlo Galiero, Dino Lopardo, Michele Mazzone
musical direction by Bruno De Franceschi
directed by Bruno De Franceschi and Caterina Vianello
The Beggar’s Opera is a masterpiece of musical dramaturgy and it was represented for the first time in 1728. it was destined to become a huge success for more than three centuries. In this musical play, John Gay ferociously satirize his (and our) society through the lens of the opera world. The Beggar, who presents himself as a mediocre poet only to glorify his own virtues in the end, uses the world of opera to desecrate vices and (the very few) virtues of the London criminal world of his time, with a (dramatic yet funny) story of deception and love betrayal. In a criminal triangle, Mr. Peachum is the boss of a band of thieves and murderers. To survive, Mr. Peachum sells his comrades to Lockit, a corrupted warden that sends them to death by hanging to collect the bounty. In this power play a big role is played by MacHeath, a charming and ruthless criminal. The love triangle between Macheath, Mr. Peachum’s daughter Polly and Lockit’s daughter Lucy, complete a ferocious and satiric portrayal of the 700’s amoral society, where almost every character’s a prostitute, a drunk or a criminal. But the force of this play is the music. The songs are always a way to subtly deny theatre realism , promoting the wildest fantasy and the playfulness of conventions. The Beggar’s Opera genre is the Ballad Opera and its peculiarity (exquisitely british) is to tap into popular music to create its musical texture, using refrains and canzonettas to create parodies of the so called “opere a numero chiuso”, a very very successful genre in high society’s theatres. Gay’s multi-layered opera combines popular and sophisticated elements creating an universe where power, love, betrayal and other noble topics are discussed (and sung) by a bunch of underworld criminals. A sharp satire on how power, at any level, is based on deceit and violence. It is therefore not by chance that Bertolt Brecht used The Beggar’s Opera as reference for his The Threepenny Opera: this parodic rhapsody of “the great theatre of the world” is without restraint. Everything is allowed (vulgarity and double meanings) to show openly that this criminal disreputable story just mirrors that of governments and powerful men. Even more, the target of this masterpiece is society in its whole. Society that justify ruthless and dishonest relations, false love and, above all, a criminal management of the state.
In this genre, original and almost unknown in Italy, the reflection on musical theatre mingles with the actors’ exploration of a technique that requires acting and singing, action and representation, in a performance that is pop like a musical, cultured like an opera and biting just as much as the most modern political drama.