LUCERNE: SATYRICON by Bruno Maderna. Premiere

“For the highest vocal level were accounted (…) and the soprano Carla Maffioletti, with her vocal acrobatics brought Maderna’s idea of a cheerful artistry straight to the point.”
OPERNWELT -April 2013

Remarkable opera rarity in Lucerne: “Satyricon” by Bruno Maderna (Premiere 23 2nd 2013)
The Lucerne Theatre offered for “Satyricon” by Bruno Maderna in a balanced ensemble of singers – from left: Carlo Heyk Jung Cho, Dana Marbach, Madelaine Wibom, Patrick Zielke, Marie-Luise Dressen and Carla Maffioletti (Photo: Ingo Höhn)

With a remarkable opera rarity waiting for the Lucerne Theatre: “Satyricon” by Bruno Maderna. This hardly comparable with other operatic work in different languages, the libretto, the composer wrote with Ian Strasfogel after “Cena Trimalchionis” from “Satyricon” by Titus Petronius, was premiered in 1973 in Scheveningen and shows the moral decay and decadence of a rich society. With this opera the composer wanted to point out parallels his country to the Roman Empire – and it has basically nothing much up to date!

Bruno Maderna (born in 1920 in Venice, died in 1973 in Darmstadt), who early learned to play the violin, was considered a child prodigy. He studied in Rome and Venice composition, made himself a name in 1950 as a conductor (he conducted the world premiere of Luigi Nono’s “Intolleranza”) and directed from 1958 until its dissolution in 1967, the International Chamber Ensemble Darmstadt. He taught at several conservatories, including the Salzburg Mozarteum. In 1972 he became chief conductor of the Orchestra della RAI sinfonica in Milan. He composed several operas (including “Hyperion”, “Don Perlimplin”, “A to Z”), shortly after the premiere of his last opera, “Satyricon” he succumbed to cancer.

The content of the opera, which includes 30 short scenes, in concise version: Trimalchino, a former slave who, after fourteen years of arduous service skills – also in the erotic area – received the freedom and now even to the “Lord” was promoted, is a feast on, he tells his guests of his deeds and his property boasts of which he includes his wife Fortunata. The champagne flows and oysters are eaten immoderately – it’s a never-ending gluttony. Despite the culinary cravings of death remains ever present, because in a bizarre manner Trimalchino flirts with him by the end staged a dress rehearsal of his death.

The composer conceived sixteen self-contained musical numbers and five Tonbandzuspielungen of sound and noise collages, which can be presented in a different order – depending on your preference of conductor and director. This is a revealing quote from the interview published in the program book of the Viennese director John Pölzgutter with the literary Christian Tipper, who gave the introduction to the opera before the premiere: “The music takes over the fragmentary style. Thus repeatedly flashed half to be played on popular melodies from around the history of music. This creates a strange, almost cartoon-like collage, which thwarts the doings of the characters. Through the variety of styles and eras can not locate the plot in time. Linguistically the work bounces wildly between English, German, French, Latin and Italian to and fro. The people that we see could be at any time and at any place, so the relevance of the ancient seal Maderna still emphasizes. ”

John Pölzgutter who changed the order of the scenes, had his production, which is characterized by an excellent tour guide, in the 21st Century, he does not play with cartoons on the stage set, but decadent people who talk about money, freedom and love, but are also faced with death. As a special counterpoint to the usual events on the festival he set the scene in which Habbinas the famous story of the widow of Ephesus says, standing in front of the decision, either to mourn her dead husband, or enjoying life with a young soldier and ultimately decides.

The aesthetically held set of Werner Hutterli shows a sterile room where more emphasis is placed on cleanliness as on abundance. The only props are a bath and a black leather armchair. Elegant are the costumes by Axel E. Schneider: extravagant evening gowns for the ladies and wedding clothes for men. For the lighting director Gérard Cleven was responsible. Unfortunately, the often harsh lighting had the disadvantage that the surtitles were barely legible. A lighter font, or a little more subdued lighting on the stage would have been more useful for the public.

The balanced ensemble of singers equipped the individual figures with subtle humor and played frequently with to-recognizing irony. Korean tenor Carlo Heyk Cho Jung-host Trimalchio was a vain upstart, the torment again indigestion. To Triumphal March from Verdi’s “Aida” and boasted he drank, although he and his powerful voice blared parts of arias. His wife Fortunata was played by the German mezzo-soprano Marie-Luise jerseys with great humor. The delicious scene in which she quotes the poet Eumolpus with a tango, the Carmen-Habanera presence, seeks to seduce. That this – impressively shown by the German bass Patrick Zielke – more homage to gluttony, and rather reflects on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, it was bad luck.

The Swedish soprano Madeleine Wibom wore as Habinnas before a eulogy on the money and had the story of the widow of Ephesus, the largest single part of the evening. The role of Criside, the text is limited to the two-time presentation of “Love’s Ecstasy” was the Israeli soprano Dana Marbach in the best hands. A special performance of the Brazilian coloratura soprano Carla Maffioletti as Scintilla, which part demanded the best on an extremely high vocalise, she could do it with ease. The American baritone Todd Boyce held the small role of Niceros that is already shot in the second scene.

The Lucerne Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Michael Wendeberg was his qualities not only in the play of the score of Maderna, but also in a variety of classic quotations from works by Verdi, Bizet, Offenbach, Puccini, Sousa, Tchaikovsky and Gluck prove. The wage received it the end of the presentation, when the conductor asked all the musicians on the stage: the audience showered the orchestra and the conductor and the ensemble of singers and the production team for several minutes with applause. It was a bravo for the frail coloratura soprano Carla Maffioletti!

Udo Pacolt, Vienna – Munich