Luca Pfaff

Giorgio Battistelli: Prova d'orchestra

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Giorgio Battistelli (born 1953) has made something of a specialty of turning films into operas. His film-based operas include Teorema (based on Pier Pasolini's 1968 film, and probably the first flickopera), Divorce Italian Style (based on Pietro Germi's 1962 film), and Prova d'Orchestra (based on Federico Fellini's 1979 film), and plans are in the works for an adaptation of Al Gore's 2007 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, to be premiered at La Scala. Prova d'Orchestra (Orchestra Rehearsal, 1994-1995) is the first to be commercially recorded, and its effectiveness is an indicator that Battistelli has indeed found a niche. This live recording was taken from performances at Flanders Opera, Ghent, in 2006. Battistelli's re-envisioning of the film is particularly good at conveying the chaos of the rehearsal through his kaleidoscopic, surrealistic, eclectic score, and colorful, inventive orchestration. The performers playing the orchestral musicians are called on for bel canto singing, Sprechstimme, speaking, and extended vocal techniques. The tension builds palpably and the cataclysmic climax is impressively astonishing. The soloists and the Flanders Opera Symphony and Chorus negotiate the demanding score with panache and high energy. The sound is far cleaner and better balanced than is generally true with live recordings, and there is virtually no extraneous noise until the audience's applause at the end. Prova d'Orchestra should be of strong interest to fans of new trends in music theater.

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