Infinito Nero

June 25, 2012
19:30 Jiří Myron Theatre

Salvatore Sciarrino Infinito Nero
The libretto is a transcript of vision by St. Marie Maddaleny de Pazzi (1566 - 1067)
Petr Kotík, Conductor
Jiří Nekvasil, David Bazika, Stage Directors
Katalin Károlyi, Mezzo-Soprano (Budapest)
Ostravská banda

Music of the Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino (1947, Palermo) can be probably best characterized by the following oxymoron: “acoustic theatre of night sounds.“ It evokes a tension, the mystery of night rustles, sudden creaks of old furniture, distant sounds of the sea and those of night insects. In his associations, Sciarrino uses highly psychological and deliberately mannerist, even decadent means – in his compositions there is the permanent feeling of “something hanging in the air,“ as if they anticipated a dramatic action that, however, usually stays only implied or completely suppressed. Sciarrino prefers extreme dynamic changes, mostly very soft sounds at the very edge of silence with a suggestive repetition of several simple elements that is typical for him. He is a proud autodidact and he found his musical language – original and almost unchanged over some forty years – very early. He wrote a many compositions (including more than ten large-scale operas) and for many years he has been among the biggest “stars“ of contemporary art music. He has the considerably enriched the palette of instrumental sounds and extended techniques. 

The thirty minute long composition Infinito nero (1998), originally conceived for stage, is subtitled Estasi di un atto (One Act Ecstasy). It is inspired by the peculiar story of Maria Maddalena de Pazzi, a mystic living around 1600. She herself recorded almost nothing of her mystical, terrifying visions where it is difficult to differentiate the voice of God from demonic possession. Surrounded by eight novices, she “dictated“ – insane, she rapped words and sentences in an incredibly fast cadence falling into a torpid and long silence immediately afterwards. The image of a deran­ged woman corresponds well with Scarrinos typical compositional methods and his predile­ction for “depicting“ extreme psychical states: during most of the composition one can hear an evoked breathing and heart beat in a hardly audible dynamic level, the suffocating tension only occasionally interrupted by precipitate eruptions of the singer-actress. The illusion of catharsis brought at the end of the com­position by a diatonic tune is really only an illusion – even the barrel-organ motif remin­ding of a nursery rhyme or prayer is very near the surface loaded with the same pathologic exaltation that rules over the whole composi­tion, all comes back to the original state.

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