La Gatta Cenerentola – di Roberto De Simone + OOIOO

This is a phenomenal incorporation of the body, routine, common actions into a performance. Like the blues this performance takes as its root the relationship between WORK and SONG, of course the ecstatic fervor that emerges is another story entirely and leads up to the final words:

Oh sun, come out, rise over this land,
Rise over this land!
Where anyone who loves you is killed and dies,
Is killed and dies…!

The play, which translates as The Cat Cinderella, is a reworking of the tale of Cinderella  It is surprisingly difficult to find much information in English on this Italian composer and this opera, but here is some info from some pages on The Free University:

“it is not just a story of Cinderella. It is a complex reworking of many possible stories of Cinderella, drawn from local folk traditions and from historical sources going back to the Middle Ages. It plays openly with sexuality and violence, with gender roles, with magic and local imaginaries, and with hopes for change in a better world.”

Here is a translation of the composer’s comments on the opera, what is most interesting is his focus on the variable uses of language, sound and song:

“When I began thinking about La Gatta Cenerentola, I thought spontaneously of a melodrama. A melodrama that was ancient and modern at one and the same time. Just as fairy stories (favole) are both old and new at the moment when they are told. A melodrama as a fairy story. We would have people singing as a way of speaking. And speaking as a way of singing. And much would also be understood from that which is not actually spoken in words. So we had to decide which words we would dress in sounds, and which sounds we would dress with words, and where we would make do without using words at all. We would use ways of speaking which were different from those that you’d use to sell cans of tinned meat. They would be the sounds of a different world, in which all languages are one, in expressing the universal experiences of love and hate, of violences that are done and suffered in the same way by everybody. We would develop another way of speaking and expressing meaning – not only through grammar and vocabulary, but also through everyday objects. And through the things that people everywhere have done for thousands of years – giving birth, making love, dying, feeling joy, feeling fear, cursing and being cursed, toiling in physical labour, and enjoying the playfulness of play. Like the sun and moon do, and have done, and always will do…”

 

ROCKING IT
This particular song Primo Coro Delle Lavandaie (or First Chorus of the Washerwomen) has inspired a number of artists, here’s an example by the Japanese band OOIOO

 

AND FINALLY
In case you were interested inlearning what they are singing, here is a translation:

SONG No. 19:
PRIMO
CORO DELLE LAVANDAIE
FIRST CHORUS OF THE WASHERWOMEN
[As they prepare to do their washing, the Washerwomen sing of the climate of tension in the city.]

WASHERWOMEN

Since this morning there’s been drums and trumpets
Drums and trumpets
Drums and trumpets
And the air is a-flare with ashes
And the air is a-flare with ashes

FIRST WASHERWOMAN

Since this morning there’s been drums and trumpets
Trumpets and drums
Like when the procession passes
On Good Friday…!
Since this morning, an empty shoe has been
Carried in procession
And on top of the castle stand
A hundred cannon
With their muzzles open to the sky
Waiting for a signal
To make all the windows of the houses
Tremble with fear and joy…!

WASHERWOMEN

Wait, wait, my heart, until the moment
Wait until the moment…!
If this ship has not gone down,
Has not sunk to the bottom…!

FIRST WASHERWOMAN

It’s as if this day
Had committed the sin
Of dawning with a bare foot
So that all the women can’t wait to cover it!
Even the sea
Under the sun this morning
Seemed like a silent oath
And even the voice of the fig-seller
Doesn’t dare
Stir this heavy air
Which is like the embers after a fire

WASHERWOMEN

Help, help, the world is lost
The world is lost
Even nuns want to get married!
Want to get married…!

FIRST WASHERWOMAN

Have you heard the soldiers…?
It’s only them
Going round singing foreign songs
That we don’t know,
The kind that are only heard when
a war has been lost…!
But instead, all of this
Is over a lost shoe
As if the whole world has gone topsy-turvy!
And the king has issued a new decree
Ordering a test
To the honour and glory
Of the passion that has bitten him…!
And in honour of the king
This land has come to a stop
In a cat’s cradle full of lies
Waiting only for an earthquake,
Burning lava,
A war,
In order to scream and cry
Seeing the miracle
Of a saint without a head
And of a foot without a shoe!

WASHERWOMEN

My love, my love, prepare your coffin
Prepare your coffin…!
And wall yourself up inside,
Nail yourself up inside…!

FIRST WASHERWOMAN

Think of the girl who’s lost the shoe!
A dawn flight with the guards after her
And her heart trembling with fear!

WASHERWOMEN

Fear of what?

FIRST WASHERWOMAN

Who knows?!
Can you ever know what it is that makes you afraid?
Look at this sun…!
It seems kindly enough
But doesn’t it sometimes seem as if it wants to turn you      to ashes?
But you call it fear!
And isn’t it nice to clothe ourselves in this heat
And to become the heat itself which gets undressed
In order to dance with a beam of fire?
You know what I think?
The shoe that was lost last night is our good luck!
Either way, it was a female who lost it,
And if the king is acting like all hell let loose
It means he can’t live without her
And who is she?
Either way, she’s a female!
One of us, who can put the king under her foot
And become queen of this land!

WASHERWOMEN

Oh sun, come out, rise over this land,
Rise over this land!
Where anyone who loves you is killed and dies,
Is killed and dies…!

Leave a reply

Skip to toolbar