Baritone, Tenor & Orchestra
2/2/2/2 – 4/3/2/1 – 3 Perc – Harp – Strings (10/8/6/4/3) + 3 Female Voices (Soprano, Mezzo & Contralto)
Birgit Van Cleemput & Luc Brewaeys after Luigi Pirandello/Torquato Tasso
February 9, 2007 at the Royal National Opera (La Monnaie) in Brussels (B). Davide DAVIANI, barytone & Yves SAELENS, tenor. Orchestra of the National Opera “La Monnaie”, conducted by Patrick DAVIN. Stage director : Frédéric DUSSENNE.
Belgian National Opera “La Monnaie / De Munt”
Johan Huys & to the memory of my father in law and composer Werner Van Cleemput
Luc on “L’uomo dal fiore in bocca” :
This work was commissioned by the Belgian National Opera. Bernard Foccroulle, the director, proposed me the theatre text by Luigi Pirandello and after reading it I immediately felt it was an extremely suitable text for me to set. I worked on the original text, which was too long for a 45-minutes opera, together with my wife Birgit Van Cleemput. We had done this before (as far as in 1989) for “Non lasciate ogni speranza”. The piece starts as a dialogue but evolves into a monologue of “the man with the flower in the mouth”. In the course of the play the wife of the man is mentioned, but since she’s not speaking we got the idea to “transpose” the presence of the woman by adding three female voices to the orchestra in the pit. For musical reasons I want them to remain “present” till the end of the work, so we needed to find another (preferably also italian) text to be sung. We finally chose a poem by Torquato Tasso : “Vivrò fra I miei tormenti” which we felt is close to the emotional context of the Pirandello play.
The work is -in a sense- also a Tuba concerto, as the tuba is the instrumental counterpart of “l’uomo”. In the center of the opera “l’uomo” sings an almost 5-minutes long “aria” along with the tuba without any other instrument. At the end, the tuba also plays the last reminiscence of the main musical gesture.
The first performance took place on February 9, 2007 at the Royal National Opera (La Monnaie) in Brussels. Patrick Davin conducted the orchestra of the National Opera, Davide Damiani sang the title role, Stephan Vanaenrode played his alter-ego on the tuba while Yves Saelens sang the client role. Frédéric Dussenne staged the work with stage design by Vincent Lemaire.
I dedicate this score to Johan Huys, a dear friend wo has given me much of advice and who always has been one of my best musical critics, also -by the way- during the composition of this opera. I also dedicate the score to the memory of my father in law and composer Werner Van Cleemput who passed away last summer.
Luc Brewaeys, 2007
A cafe near the train station, tables and chairs on the terrace,
the man with a flower in his mouth,
a quiet client.
A man begins a conversation with a client who has just missed his train. This man is ‘l’uomo dal fiore in bocca’, or the man with a flower in his mouth: he has a malignant tumour in the corner of his mouth and his days are numbered. A strange conversation takes place between these two people: the client, a father who has just done some shopping for his wife and daughters, talks about the ordinary events of his day, and the man with a flower in his mouth listens with the heightened intensity of someone who does not have long to live.
During a long monologue, the client reflects the ordinariness of daily life, which the man looks upon with a distant and external view; he clings to life with the force of his imagination, ‘like a plant climbing the bars of a fence’. His wife appears during the conversation: she irritates him with her concern and her sound advice. The man with the flower in his mouth refuses to resign himself to staying at home. He delights in the memory of the taste of juicy apricots and asks the client to count the blades in a tuft of grass the next morning: ‘The number of blades you count will be the number of days I have left to live.’