Tornar a actualitat

Beauty and emotion against gratuitous violence

Beauty and emotion against gratuitous violence


I would like to begin by thanking Víctor García de Gomar, Artistic Director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, and Valentí Oviedo, the Executive Director, for making possible this wonderful opportunity to breathe new life into Claudio Monteverdi’s striking opera “L’Incoronazione di Poppea” (1642), inspired in the libretto of the poet and writer Francesco Busenello. I shall be on stage with my assistant maestro Luca Guglielmi, who heads the bass continuo, the magnificent group of solo singers, the musicians of Le Concert des Nations, and with the indispensable assistance of Xesca Llabrés and all the technical team of the Liceu and David Galán from the CIMA Foundation.

            A connoisseur of the society of his time, the librettist Francesco Busenello received his doctorate from the University of Padua in 1619 and had an outstanding career as a jurist in Venice. Certainly, his libretto can be seen, on the one hand, as a harsh criticism and parody of the Venetian aristocracy, which at that time was riddled with corruption, sexual depravity and a profound moral decrepitude; on the other hand, it can be understood as an allegorical justification, and at the same time an encomium of those who exercise absolute power and believe that  “laws apply to subjects, not to those who rule.”

            Monteverdi, a composer about whom we are passionate and whose works have occupied us for more than half a century, also uses an absolutely up-to-date musical language, because in every word he seeks the best way to express feelings. With his revolutionary recitare cantando, it was he and his friends from the Camerata de Bardi in Florence (Caccini, Peri and Frescobaldi) who invented this new way of fusing lyrics and song in order to move the listener through all its facets of expressiveness and beauty, tenderness and amorous passion, grace and melancholy, but also of fury and war. It was also he who invented this “love as war”, this stile concitato (agitated style) which, as he put it, allows us to convey with maximum intensity the most contrasting and profound of human feelings and expressions.

            Whichever view we take, the fact that Calixto Bieito has set this production in the 20th century gives the show an even more contemporary atmosphere, and when I say “very contemporary” it’s unfortunately because I am thinking of the violence that is constantly present in our society: gender violence, femicide, sexual violence against young people, homosexuals, LGTBI, immigrants and the homeless… So may scourges which we are dismayed and distressed to see increasing every day.

            For all these reasons, and despite my total respect and admiration for Calixto Beito’s original and unfailingly provocative imagination, I feel that it is my moral duty today to express in the clearest possible terms that I do not agree with the exaggerated and unnecessary use of so much gratuitous violence at so many points in the staging of this work.

            In contrast to this vision, we shall always strive to make the power of music prevail, because all those taking part in this production love Monteverdi, and therefore, independently of what is happening on the stage, we shall always highlight the beauty and emotion of his music. If there is beauty and emotion in art and music, it will always help human beings to raise themselves up, to find dignity and become their better selves, overcoming the inclination that they might have in some circumstances to act with cruelty.

            Every evening at the Liceu, in spite of the depravity, violence and contradictions, we shall continue to sing and play, committed as we are to the profound sense of the arts in our conviction that “beauty can save the world.”

Jordi Savall

Bellaterra, 29th June, 2023