Mattia Ometto, piano
Danilo Coppola, stage director
‘A’ winter journey?
Ever since I realised that singing could be a form of expression, my personal inclinations and instincts have always remained indissolubly drawn to romantic literature, and particularly to Schubert. His cycles, his Ausgewählte Lieder, the string quartets, the symphonies – unparalleled, captivating phrases, with which I remain enchanted as an artist and as a human being.
From his world, from that of Franz, Schubert invites us to venture into his hemisphere, and tells us of the many and varied facets of the human soul. And to do so, he draws us closer to walk hand in hand with his Wanderer; a uncontrollable symbiosis, nostalgic for the past, uncertain in the present, and with his sights turned towards an unpredictable, unknown future. This wanderer is his wanderings – he is inextricable from his journey, and his identity and destiny are intertwined with his travels.
To walk along the edges of the little brook, the Bächlein, means to enter into the mirror of memory, a place to which the wanderer retreats, perhaps seeking a lost love or perhaps seeking a former life, one still hopeful and full of possibility. At face value, a crow, Krähe seems to suggest a journey, but above all, this journey is one in which the wanderer must confront an inevitable loss of reason and the senses. To enter into the warm heart of the inn, the Wirtshaus, is to offer comfort to those who have nothing left of themselves. And the interwoven song of the oneiric harmonium of the Leiermann signifies, after all the many questions he has asked, the wanderer’s acceptance that his wanderings will be infinite.
Performing Schubert is to paint with one’s inner being paintings which ask us to subvert the established boundaries of the voice, which becomes instead an instrument of universal theatrical narration. In encountering his works, I have always been struck by the theatrical nature of Schubert, rich in colours and emotions. I have always imagined Winterreise as an artistic performance in which the audience find it necessary to immerse themselves in Schubert’s pictures and feel the hallucinations of the Wanderer.
Winterreise is a place for everyone and no one, into which all can enter, take a few steps and choose to remain there, or instead journey onwards and remain at the mercy of what is to come. It is an image which can provoke or force thoughts and reckonings from us, and it presents a possible world, one which is probable yet for this probability all the more absurd.
After twenty-one years in the theatre, I feel the need and the necessity to become the Wanderer onstage.
Personal involvement, fascination, or on the other hand, irritation – these feelings provoked me immediately upon my first reading of Franz Schubert’s Winterreise, a journey undertaken by one of the most modern yet most timeless figures, the Wanderer. His search for identity becomes a literary theme, around which the spasmodic search for the self revolves.
Dramaturgically, I imagined the Wanderer as a man experiencing homelessness, who enters the stage with a shopping trolley in which one sees the misery of his reality, and which becomes an emblem of a world, his world, which no longer exists. He carries with him all which might still have value in the new order of things: a basket of food, a plastic sheet to shelter him from the snow, and little seedlings, perhaps to plant to give them, and himself, stronger roots.
This search for a home, and in it, stability, is present from the beginning of the cycle in the melancholy Gute nacht, where the home, the nest, symbolises the destination and the meaning of this final journey. The greatest obstacle to his personal and internal search for warmth is literally depicted through the motif of snow, which I have represented by means of a white stretch of fabric which floats in the vacuum of a black, infinite space.
An apocalypse of the senses is unleashed upon the Wanderer, who, in trying to follow physical and metaphorical journeys, is lead to the nucleus of nature; an environment which has been reduced to a dried-out shell of an empty, useless world, yet one which is still recognisable. His journey concludes as he comes face to face with destiny; the shadow of the Leiermann, which here literally overwhelms the Wanderer until they become one.
Shall we wander along this journey together?
Schubert: Romanze aus "Rosamunde" - Andrea Mastroni (bass), Mattia Ometto (piano)
Schubert: Der Erlkönig - Andrea Mastroni (bass), Mattia Ometto (piano)