A musical fairy tale for reciting voice and chamber orchestra.
From the fairy tale by Oscar Wilde
Based on the text of the homonymous story of Oscar Wilde.
Interpreters are: Gabriele Lavia (Italian version) reciting voice; Instrumental ensemble Scaligero (orchestra of theatre Scala of Milan); director Flavio Emilio Scogna.
The Happy Prince
“…the courtiers called me the Happy Prince, and I was truly happy, if pleasure is happiness.” (Oscar Wilde “The Happy Prince”)
How the work was born
If we had to nominate a universal literary form, which, originating from an oral tradition, was then fixed in written testimony, and which has interested every human civilisation and race, we would have to name the fairy tale. The metamorphosis of the fairy tale, the passage from the traditional “ogre” to the bourgeois story, traces the ages of man, but in many ways does not change, in terms of the magical/ethical value of the structure. Moreover, in other forms, not strictly oral and literary, but also musical, the fairy tale retains its original role, instrumental in the exorcising of our everyday “ogres”.
Models and structures of the work
Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale “The Happy Prince”, which forms partv of a cycle of literature for children written between 1881 and 1890, constitututes the subject of this work by Silvio Amato.
The musical fairy tale
The underlying idea this work is that of re-tracing, in a modern key, a genre made famous in the first half of the 20th century. The choice of subject, and above all of the writer, Oscar Wilde, are fruits of a desire to follow an alternative path. To take a model, to make another, and so to revolutionise it. This was Wilde’s idea, transposed into the text of his story. The intention of the music is identical, seeking, on the one hand, a connection with tradition, and on the other, references to contemporary music.
Models and literary sources
The influences of Maurice Ravel and Sergej Prokofiev can certainly be heard in the texture of Silvio Amato’s work. In musical terms, a connection with these original models is undeniable, although the work is equally influenced by the contributions of popular, and certainly less “cultured”, traditions. In short, precisely what Wilde himself aimed to achieve in the writing of his fairy tale. If it is true that the effect of the happy ending is in some way curtailed, withsacrifice and self-denial becoming, in some measure, useless, sterile acts, in the end, exemplary moral sense reemerges with all of its force, just as in traditional fairy tales. The force of good, unlike titles and commemorative statues, becomes the only value capable of endowing immortality.
The musical fairy tale has been written for reciting voice and instrumental group. The compositional technique thematically individuates the story’s two protagonists and, in the course of the narration, we witness a metamorphosis in the thematic material, which changes as the narrative events unfold.
Born in Catania on the 10th April, 1961, Amato started to demonstrate his vocation for music from an early age. After several years of training in classical piano, Amato was largely self taught, and he went on to collaborate, both as keyboard player and composer, with a variety of pop artists. Moving to Milan in the mid-1980’s, Amato’s career diversified again, adding to his pop collaborations, compositions for Italian commercial television (Mediaset). During this period Amato collaborated with Massimo Ranieri for the 42nd San Remo music festival, and wrote numerous compositions for children’s television, including several commercially successful cartoon theme tunes. In the 1990’s Amato broadened his horizons once more, as he became increasingly involved in television music production; this work included writing and producing music for soap opera and early evening variety shows, as well as numerous programme theme tunes. Amato’s extreme compositional freshness is greatly suited to visual material, and cinema film scores were a natural progression. Among the many sound tracks written between 1900 and 2000, particular critical appreciation was reserved for “I mitici” by Carlo Vanzina, “Svitati”, starring Mel Brooks, “Ti voglio bene Eugenio”, with Giancarlo Giannini, Giuliana De Sio, and Jacques Perrin.
Since 2000, Amato has been working more in the field of ‘cultured’ music, composing a musical fairy tale based on Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Happy Prince’, performed by The Philharmonic Orchestra of La Scala, and narrated by the actor, Gabriele Lavia. Next came the opera ‘Museo d’ombre’ (Museum of Shadows) written for chamber orchestra, and the sacred opera ‘Cantata religiosa’ (Religious Cantata) for orchestra and vocal group. The music for this work (‘Snow White’) represents Amato’s first composition for modern dance.
Gabriele Lavia is one of the most important figures on the Italian stage scene. He devoted his work also to cinema, creating characters for some famous Italian horror movies like David Hemmings friend in "Profondo Rosso", the journalist of "Zeder". He also directed some movies like "Scandalosa Gilda" and "La Lupa" with longtime companion Monica Guerritore. He portrayed the gay stage director in "Ricordati Di Me" by Gabriele Muccino.
But his work is mainly on stage. As actor and director, he put on stage the works of Shakespeare, Strindberg and Pirandello. He started in 1975 with William Shakespeare's "Othello". His last work was "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?" by Edward Albee in 2005.
The Instrumental Ensemble Association Scaligero is an instrumental group that in 1989 was founded by ten musicians of the Theatro della Scala. The nucleus base is the double quintet (five Strings and five Wind instruments) composed of musicians of the Teatro allla Scala and the Filarmonica della Scala, who in 1998 were joined by sax, piano, accordion and percussion instrument.
The Ensemble was invited as guest to the most important Italian music institutions I(Teatro alla Scala, Manzoni Theatre of Milan, Theatre of the Bibiena of Mantova, Rendàno Theatre of Cosenza, Municipal Theatre of Piacenza, Festival di Stresa, Ravenna Festival 2000) as well as European ones (in Germany at the Festival di Worlitz, Rhine Festival, Deutsche Kammerorchester of Berlin, at the Festival di Nimes in France, at the Festival di Crans Montana and Musical Primavera of Lugano in Switzerland).
In 1998 they went on an important tour to Lebanese. In 2002, at the Theatre Del Verme of Milan, they independently prepared and managed three concerts in one season. In the same year with the contribution of the Lyric Theatre of Cagliari, they organized a tour of six concerts in Sardinia, repeated also in 2003.
In September 2003 the Ensemble Scaligero obtained greatest acknowledgments during an extensive tour in Japan, obtaining also a renewed invitation for the concert seasons of September 2005 and July 2007.
In 2004 they were guest of the International Festival of Tirana/Scùtari, of the Literary Prize Bancarella in Tuscany and of the Festival Dankmall in Lipsia. In 2005 in occasion of the inauguration of the festival connected to the Exhibition “From Giotto to Malevic” they gave two concerts in Moscow for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the enormous success induced the organizers to invite the Ensemble also for the closing concert of the concert manifestations.
In January 2006 the Ensemble Scaligero participated to the commemorative celebrations of the tenth anniversary of the death of M° G. Gavazzeni, obtaining a wide consent from critics and the total appreciation of the audience. In 2006 they had the honor to inaugurate the Condominio Theatre, V. Gassman di Gallarate (ME), the Civic Theatre of Stradella (PV) and the Theatre G. Verdi of Fiorenzuola (PC). Always in 2006 they were guest of the Philarmonia of Warsaw, obtaining outstanding success.
In February 2007 the Ensemble Scaligero was invited to give two concerts in Sibiu (Rumania), European Capital of Culture, where they obtained such a success that the organizers invited the Ensemble to other two concerts, to Bucharest and Timisoara.
The Ensemble Scaligero has recorded two CDs with music from Bottesini, Rossini, Cavallini, Gershwin, Corea, Piazzolla and Iturralde; moreover the CD Principe Felice with music from Silvio Amato and Gabriele Lavia as reciting voice was published by Ricordi/Feltrinelli
Foreseen for upcoming publication are two CDs “Live in Japan 2005” with performances from the programs presented during the Japanese tour in 2005.
Flavio Emilio Scogna.He was culturally and musically formed in the cities of Genoa, Bologna and Rome where he sudied conducting and composition. He achieved his degree in Music at the Universiity of Bologna. In 1982/83 he studied conducting with Franco Ferrara and from 1984 to 1988 he collaborated with Luciano Berio. Scogna’s works are performed everywhere in the world (Accademia Nazionale di S.Cecilia, Teatro Comunale di Firenze, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Konzerthaus in Vienna, Auditorium Nacional in Madrid, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma) and they are recorded on RCA, BMG Ariola as well as broadcasted by the major european radios and televisions (RAI, BBC, RNE, BRT, Radio France amongst the others). In 1988 he represented the RAI television network at the Prix Italia, with the radio work “L’Arpa Magica” based on a text by E. Sanguineti. He has given lectures and seminars regarding his own compositions, in Europe and in several colleges in the United States.
Besides being a composer, from 1990 he is an international acclaimed Orchestra Conductor both in the classical repertoire (He has revalued important classics as Pergolesi and Boccherini) and in the Twentieth century and contemporary repertoire (Satie and Rota). He conducted uncountable world premières of living composers. He directed some of the most important international symphonic orchestras such as the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rai Symphonic Orchestra, the Rome Opera House Orchestra, the Hungarian State Symphonic Orchestra, the Raanana Sinfonietta of Israel, the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Pomeriggi Musicali, the Cantelli Orchestra and the Symphonic Orchestra of Italy, as well as internationally acclaimed ensembles such as Alternance in Paris, The Accademia Bizantina, Circulo in Madrid, the Ensemble Strumentale Scaligero and the Roma Sinfonietta. In 1995 he directed the opening concert for the celebration of the centenary of the International Music Festival of the Biennale di Venezia.