Genesis of the Opera
Born out of an original idea from Claudio Santangelo, the piece was dedicated to Japan in response to the unforgettable catastrophy of the 03/11/2011, a date that holds great significance in the heart of the Eastern commuinity and that the world has certainly not forgotten: populations from all over, gathering together around those who were directly affected by the tragedy of the Island of Sol Levante, the growing sense of unity and support resulting therefrom, led the composer to the title “Ensamble for one”.
Due to the great success and interest that this original creation has aroused, the two artists Claudio Santangelo and Stefano Delle Donne decided to rearrange it, emphasizing even more the drama and the variety of colors , key features for guiding the listener through this musical description of the event.
The prominance of the marimba and the percussion instruments is central in the dense and colorful orchestration ,which defines an evanescent setting rich of oriental remembrances.
The Opera begins with the image of a calm nature which awaits serene and silently as the time goes by. From this peaceful background of sounds, the chipring of crickets pops out through the strings and the birds hover in the air with the wind intruments; the clear sound of Koto(‘pizzicato’ of the cello) begins to chant the typical folk-singing of the “Sakura Theme”(theme which Puccini uses in Madame Butterfly as well to honor Japan).
From far the increasing noise of a thunderstorm progresses threateningly, the air becomes more fizzy, the sudden hit of the timpano drum announces the start of the tempest and without realizing we find ourselves in a situation of allert, paced by the hits of the “Japanese doll”(woodblock).
For the first time the soloist enters the “scene” with a constat and obsessive rythm which speeds up as a clock: the omen of an irretrievable event and the nature rebeles.
A short Cadenza of the marimba guides us to a long central part of the composition in which the orchestra supports and actively witnesses the catastrophy falling on the landscape.
The soloist and the orchestra begin a real dialogue, a stuggle between the nature and the human kind( represented by the cello concertante) who tries with all the power left to fight back.
For the first time in this section we hear the SetUp of the soloist, a moment of caos and confusion in which we can ‘feel’ the waves crashing and flooding the defenceless cities and the ground crumbling as the earthquake moves through them.
This passage reaches the climax with a dissonant chord: the deafening ‘scream’ of the cello, with its deep sounding tremolo, contrasts the shrill harmony of the orchestra driven by the rumbling gong.
The soloist continues alone for a short moment; afterwards the sound of a beating heart, the heart of the people, the survivors, shocked and powerless.
Played by the woodwind instruments, the Koto traditional singing comes back, but in a form way far from the light-hearted version of the beginning, almost in the form of a ‘pray’… a theme which touches the soul and seep deep into the human sorrow.
The oboe supports with its controcanto this elegiac moment and,in response, the exhausted cello tries to react untill the soloist takes over, echoing the same anthem as a plea for forgiveness.
A concertante duet between soloist and cello leds the composition to its full climax, reached by the introduction of one final element, the Soprano: a voice, far away, takes over the scene and lights up
with hope and faith a long section of Contrappunti between the different parts of the orchestra. Everything merges in one last theme, not anymore tragic and solemn, but a chant of redemption. Alternately the strings and the wind instruments propose again the initial leitmotiv as a celebration of life; slowly the tension wears off and the sound of the heart comes back beating from one instrument to the other.
And again silence.
One last soft gasp… it’s all over, life can resume its course.
Marimba e SetUp: Earthquake
Violoncello: “Coul” of the Japanese population
Soprano: “Hope and Faith”
Orchestra: Landscape, mirror of the dialogues between the two soloists
Pizzicato con “plettro”: Japanese Koto
Tremolo ponticello: Crickets
Cucù: Nature – cit. “Titano” Symphony by Mahler
Tremolo timpano: Thunderstorm
SetUp: Waves and thunders
Grancassa: Heart beat