Enough of your tears and pleasIL PALAZZO INCANTATO
for tears and pleas are scattered by the wind.
In the midst of preparing an opera, Poetry, Music and Painting expostulate over their merits. Magic appears and puts an end to their discord by embellishing the stage on which the performance will play out. So begins Luigi Rossi’s Il Palazzo incantato, a forgotten gem from the baroque repertoire, the score of which spent four centuries buried in the Vatican library until it was exhumed by Leonardo García Alarcón.
In the opening scene of Paolo Sorrentino’s La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty), a tourist from a sightseeing bus stands at the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, sees Rome stretching out before him and faints. For the Argentinian conductor, it is that same overwhelming beauty which strikes us when we listen to Rossi, with the mathematical precision of his musical composition and the perfection of his harmonic structure. If opera was born in Florence, this composer was one of those who helped make Rome the new capital of the lyrical arts.
His Palazzo incantato recounts the tale of lovers imprisoned in the labyrinth of the sorcerer Atlante, who has the power to shape and reshape space at will. Among these young people is Ruggiero, the man whom the courageous Bradamante comes to help. Inspired by Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, the libretto criss-crosses the lives and destinies of the captives in the style of a choral film.
The plot narrative is the pretext to a monumental work—27 characters, 16 soloists, double and triple choruses with 6 and 12 voices not to mention several ballets—in the purest Roman tradition: unlike its Venetian counterpart, Roman opera revels in excess. The premiere of Rossi’s œuvre-monde lasted almost 7 hours and incorporated music, song, dance, theatre, and feasting. However, that particular Palazzo incantato would prove to be the last testament to those sumptuous celebrations: this was 1642 and Rome would soon fall under the austere control of Pope Innocent X. In a city about to be forced into mourning attire, the opera glittered in the limelight of its final splendour.
That hunger for life, that urgency to create is something Fabrice Murgia senses profoundly in Il Palazzo incantato: as if it were a question of recounting the world one last time. The Belgian director—who defines himself as a child of Brecht and Spielberg—excels in the art of live video which destabilises our perception of what is real. He sets his production in the venues of solitude of our contemporary mythology—an airport, a hospital, a hotel room, a waiting room—where the wandering souls in Atlante’s palace come to get lost. Working in close collaboration with Leonardo García Alarcón, he brings out the fragments of an opera that has withstood the test of time by releasing all of its dramatic power.
Il Palazzo incantato, azione in musica in three acts with prologue
First performed in Rome at the Palazzo Barberini, Via Quattro Fontane on February 22, 1642
New production Opéra national de Lorraine
Coproduction Opéra de Dijon
In partnership with the Chœur de Chambre de Namur
Giulio Rospigliosi (the future Pope Clement IX) based on Ariosto’s Orlando furioso
Leonardo García Alarcón
Chorus of the Opéra de Dijon and the Chœur de chambre de Namur
Clara Peluffo Valentini
Emily Brassier, Giacinto Caponio
Rodrigo Calveyra, Fabián Schofrin
Johann Michalzcak, David Vong
Joy Alpuerto Ritter, Zora Snake
The performance on Sunday 3 October at 3 p.m. offers a Sunday workshop.
3h45 with interval
Performed in italian with subtitles
Open to all aged 11 and above
1 hour before the performance (free, on presentation of a performance ticket)