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Emma Dante: “In my ‘Vêpres siciliennes’ the oppressors are the mafia, not the French”

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The oppressors are no longer the French, against whom the Palermitans revolted in 1282, but the mafia. At least according to the reading that the director Emma Dante gives of ‘Les vêpres siciliennes’, the grand opéra written by Giuseppe Verdi in 1855 for the Paris Opera on a libretto by Eugene Scribe and Charles Duveyrier, which opens the 2022 Season tomorrow evening at 7pm of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. A work that involves the Orchestra, Chorus and Ballet Company of the Palermo Opera Foundation, to which the actors of the Sud Costa Occidentale Company are added, and which is proposed for the first time in Palermo in the original French version in five acts with dances, in the new staging created in co-production with the San Carlo Theater in Naples, the Teatro Comunale in Bologna and the Teatro Real in Madrid. On the podium the musical director of the Massimo, Omer Meir Wellber. ‘Les vêpres siciliennes’ tells the insurrection of the people of Palermo who in 1282 exploded in front of the church of Santo Spirito in Palermo against the Angevins, oppressors of the island. In today’s staging, according to Emma Dante and Omer Meir Wellber, today’s Palermo is the backdrop to Verdi’s story of oppression and revolt. “At the heart of the story I make of this work – declares Emma Dante – lies the clash of two communities. In the libretto there are two different peoples: on the one hand the oppressors, the French, and on the other the Sicilians. Today oppression, on the other hand, is linked to the underworld, to criminal associations, to the world of organized crime, which in Palermo is embodied in the mafia; an oppression that weighs on the people and takes away their freedom, with the mafia attitude of the oppressors. On stage, the Sicilian people are harassed not by an enemy army, but by members of a mafia gang. On the anniversary of the thirtieth anniversary we wanted to bring this commemoration also on stage, so there will be portraits of everyone: men and women of the escorts, representatives of institutions, magistrates, police officers, trade unionists and ordinary citizens, all guilty of having found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and opposing the mafia. The scene of the parade of the banners with their faces tells the soul of this staging “. The work of updating the work is shared and supported by Omer Meir Wellber, who exemplifies it with the work done on dancers, the dance of the Four Seasons , which instead of being performed all together in the third act are distributed in the course of the action: “We used these moments to insert some important dramaturgical accent that the direction entrusts to the actors or dancers, making them spaces in which to develop or deepen a idea. Each of these dances is played at a different time and also with different orchestrations and the result is a very new impact ”. On stage for the Autumn, in the first act, there will be a street band with a very Sicilian sound, composed of accordion, clarinet and double bass, while the Estate, in the third act, will be performed exactly in the point and in the way in which it is written in the score: “I believe that our role in the modern world of opera is to take the important texts of the great composers and, respecting them, always find a creative, interesting contextualization, with a musical interpretation that develops together with the director’s ideas. While carefully observing Verdi’s score, because there is no added note. This show shows how the musical and directorial choices go hand in hand in creating a new world, while respecting the original text ”, adds Wellber. To design the scenic space, the scenographies signed by Carmine Maringola that reproduce places and monuments dear to Palermo. The costumes are by Vanessa Sannino, the scenic movements by Sandro Maria Campagna, while the choreography is curated by Manuela Lo Sicco, and the light design by Cristian Zucaro. The Choir of the Teatro Massimo is directed by Ciro Visco and the corps de ballet by Davide Bombana, staged with the actors of the Sud Costa Occidentale Company. The cast counts on a group of young and already established singing stars, who make their debut in Palermo in role. Starting with the protagonists Selene Zanetti, in the role of the Duchess Hélène; Leonardo Caimi in that of Henri; Mattia Olivieri is the tyrant / boss Guy de Montfort (20, 23, 26); Carlotta Vichi is Ninetta, while the Uruguayan bass Erwin Schrott plays the conspirator Giovanni da Procida (20) only on the opening night. In the same parts, Maritina Tampakopoulos, Giulio Pelligra, Gezim Mishketa, Luca Tittoto and Fabrizio Beggi will be engaged for the performances on 22 and 25 January. The cast is completed by Pietro Luppina (Mainfroid), Matteo Mezzaro (Thibault), Francesco Pittari (Danieli), Alessio Verna (Robert), Gabriele Sagona (Le comte de Vaudemont) and Ugo Guagliardo and Andrea Pellegrini (Le sire de Béthune). “Tomorrow The 2022 season of the Teatro Massimo will begin, a season entirely dedicated to the thirtieth anniversary of the 1992 mafia massacres that marked the history of our city and our country – declares the president of the Teatro Massimo Foundation and mayor of Palermo Leoluca Orlando – From that In 1992, however, a movement of rebellion and great civil commitment started which, among other things, led in 1997 to the reopening of the Teatro Massimo, which this year celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary, and to the reconquest of other urban spaces. cultural activity of the city. This season confirms the profound link between the Teatro Massimo and Palermo, between theater and the cultural, social and civil rebirth of the city. Thanks to the new superintendent Marco Betta, the director Omer Meir Wellber and the Palermo director Emma Dante and I send them my best wishes for this work which inaugurates a theater season full of meaning and which I am sure will remain in the history of the city “. a season that celebrates a double and important anniversary for the Teatro Massimo – says Marco Betta, for a few days at the helm of the Theater in Piazza Verdi as superintendent and artistic director. The entire season reflects a tension towards memory and memory, first of all of the thirtieth anniversary of the mafia massacres of 1992. Those dramatic events that profoundly marked the city and the country, triggered the reaction and participation of civil society which contributed to the reopening of the Maximum. And we also celebrate the twenty-five years since the reopening of the theater, abandoned for years to neglect and decay, we want to remember this too so that it never happens again. We begin this new season with a masterpiece like ‘Les vêpres siciliennes’ which, like all great works, has the quality of telling the present time, thanks to the contemporary reading that Omer Meir Wellber and Emma Dante made of it “. The premiere of Les vêpres siciliennes. , Thursday 20 January, will be broadcast in live streaming starting at 19:00 from the webTv of the Teatro Massimo and from Arte.tv. The duration of the show is approximately 4 hours and 20 ‘, including 2 intervals at the end of the first and third act.

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