3 stars – flashing recitation
Lights are dimmed and burning incense spreads its scent through the steamy air. A table which is an altar, as well as a DJ set. Lines of Lord Byron’s poem grow into threats of damnation.
From time to time a Mess or a Satanic ceremony, the performance created by the collective Madalena Reversa deals with themes that are always timely, as they confront human nature to godliness and to damnation. Despite this, these themes are not re-contextualised to the present time specifically, and the apocalyptic feeling seems to pertain to the Faustian sensibility of the evoked protagonist.
On Donato Di Trapani’s live electronics and reprises of the Opera 115 that Schubert composed for Byron’s poem, the dark figure of Maria Alterno gives voice to Manfred’s verses. According to the romantic poet’s directions, the strophes are not acted out, but performed by the sole voice – while the bodies remain backlit and unseen for the whole performance. The stunning light design by Andrea Sanson has a key role in the creation of the dark, infernal atmosphere.
The performance’s atmosphere is charged with dramatic intensity and constitutes a valuable setting for the poem. The three elements – poem, music, and lights – seem to be all co-protagonists, as none of them can be said to be predominant over the others. At moments purposefully disturbing, the creation of this ambiance creates an expectation towards something else, probably action, which is nonetheless denied.
28th and 29th of October 2022
Running time: 50 minutes
Venue: Fondazione Merz
Tickets and Info: https://www.fondazionetpe.it/festival/manfred/
Company Website: https://madalenareversa.com/