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Il 3001, unpublished by Luigi Illica premiered at the Illica Festival in Castell'Arquato
Luigi Illica's "science fiction" masterpiece, never staged before, reveals its charm | Article in collaboration with Festival Illica
TO Castell'Arquato, charming village "among the most beautiful in Italy” lying on the Colli Piacentini, from 4 to 8 July 2023 takes place on Illica Festival, which this year crosses the prestigious milestone of X edition: with the artistic direction of Jacopo Brusa, the program offers a full week of events including operas, concerts and insights, enlivening the most evocative places of this country of timeless charm with notes.

The exhibition pays homage to the illustrious figure of Luigi Illica (1857-1919), librettist, playwright, poet and journalist from Arquato who had important collaborations with the greatest Italian opera composers of his time and was linked by friendship with authoritative writers such as Giosuè Carducci. His opera librettos include some of the most famous opera titles, Puccini's masterpieces – Bohème, Tosca, Butterfly – Pietro Mascagni, Umberto Giordano and many others.

An appointment not to be missed, is what the Illica Festival presents Thursday July 6, 2023 (21.30) in the Monumental Square of Castell'Arquato: the first ever performance of comic opera The 3001, based on an unpublished "science fiction booklet" by Illica written around 1908 and never set to music before.

The 3001 debuts in concert form with the precious collaboration of theArturo Toscanini Philharmonic Orchestra directed for the occasion by Riccardo whites; the cast consists of Marta Leung (Reginotta) Raffaele Feo (son; then, 2) Lorenzo Liberali (American) James Pieracci (9) Alexandra Palomba (Madam 9), while the Choir that's it of the Festivals Illica.

Set in a dystopian and disturbing future, the booklet de The 3001 it was left unfinished by the Arquatese writer, and was rediscovered precisely by the Illica Festival team, which last year specially organized a competition - aimed at composers and librettists/playwrights under 40 - aimed at the representation of the work. The prestigious jury chaired by M° Marco Tutino declared the winner the project presented by Voris Sarris, 24-year-old Greek-Cypriot composer and Milanese by adoption, at his first opera, and by the young playwright, director and actress Lisa Capaccioli.

Comment Jacopo Brusa, Artistic Director of the Illica Festival: “Since my appointment, I have always kept in mind the goal I have set for myself: to enhance the lesser-known works of Luigi Illica. While delving into Illichi's catalogue, I immediately came across what was called an “unpublished science fiction booklet” (!): “Il 3001”.

Once the autograph materials of the unpublished booklet were found in the Illica Fund of the Passerini Landi Library in Piacenza (thanks to the precious help of prof. Massimo Baucia), it was immediately clear that we were dealing with a text that brings to mind Orwell's "1984". “Il 3001”, however, was written by Illica forty years earlier!

The setting in the future of a society in which everyone is Numbers and Figures regulated in their daily activities by "machinery", seemed to me a "vaguely current" theme and suitable for stimulating a young composer and a young playwright to develop a definitive version of the libretto started by Illica around 1908 and to propose it at this year's Illica Festival.”

Explains Louise Capaccioli, which reworked and integrated the libretto de The 3001 by Luigi Illica: "Reading his verses, the futuristic character and some terrifyingly current details of his text are surprising: the libretto tells of a utopian (or dystopian?) society where "justice, equality, freedom" are guaranteed to all members which are part of it. How is all this possible? Through "Regulators", devices that are welded on the chest of individuals and that regulate their vital functions. The "Regulators" in fact limit people's choices and needs, they control their actions and their feelings: with the false promise of "everyone being equal", the threat of homologation can be read between the lines. Some specifications of the "Regulator" reminded me of our smartphones and the accessories connected to them: our device regulates our actions, sometimes suggesting even if we need to get up because we've spent too much time sitting down.

First of all I studied the booklet that was in my possession: I immediately realized that it wasn't finished. The main ingredients for the total development of the story could be traced in Illica's precious material, but they had not yet been explored in depth. Therefore, the first step was to put in order what I had available and complete the subject. Then, after various moments of discussion with the composer Voris Sarris in which we decided how the story would develop, the time came for me to write and rewrite. I worked like this: using Illica's verses as much as possible, I integrated the missing parts, trying to maintain the character of the work. Where possible I filled in the gaps in the plot by recovering sections of the original text and moving them where I thought best, to keep the story going. In other points I wrote new pieces, not trying to copy Illica's style, but drawing inspiration from his writing. For me it is very important that one feels that this is a booklet written at the beginning of the last century. Once the first draft of the libretto was finished, Voris wrote the music (I remember that Illica's libretto has never been set to music before: this is the genius of the operation of the Composition Competition organized by the Illica Festival). After this moment came the revision: a fundamental phase, in which word and music finally find themselves in a true dialogue and the opera comes to life. […] The biggest challenge of this journey through Illica's words for me was not to forget that the words of a libretto will then become music and stage action, converging in the staging of the opera”.

There is more

Lisa Capaccioli, born in 1985, graduated in Language and Communication at the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy and in 2011 she graduated as a professional actress at the Scuola del Piccolo Teatro in Milan. During his training, he had the opportunity to work as assistant director to Luca Ronconi in shows such as “Danza macabra” (Spoleto Festival/Teatro Metastasio production, 2013) and “Lehman Trilogy” (Piccolo Teatro di Milano production , 2015). He has participated in seminars with important directors and playwrights such as Renata Molinari, Renato Gabrielli, Federico Tiezzi and Carmelo Rifici. In 2021, he attended the specialization course for theater trainers promoted by Te.S.eo, the Venetian Theater Academy and the Teatro Stabile del Veneto. He collaborated with Paola Bigatto as a student and assistant in the direction and dramaturgy of the show "Virtue of darkness" based on "The three guineas" by Virginia Woolf (Production by Teatro Metastasio, 2015). He has written and directed various plays, including monologues and operas for children. He also worked as an assistant director for several opera productions, including “Romeo and Juliet”, “Semiramide”, “Turandot” and others. He is currently a professor at the LIMEC-SSML University of Milan and holds theater courses for children and teenagers at the Asteria Cultural Center and the Commenda Theater in Milan.

Voris Sarris is a Greek Cypriot composer living in Milan. His music is influenced by the tradition of Italian opera, jazz music and traditional Greek music. He spent a year in Paris playing piano with the “Iono” quartet. In March 2021, he wrote the stage monologue “Λήθηνη Εποχή” (translated: “The Age of Forgetting”) and composed the music for the play, which premiered at theYard 2021 in Limassol, Cyprus. In September 2021, the renowned musical group “Chronos Ensemble” included his quintet “Winter Landscapes”, which he conducted in two concerts in Limassol and Nicosia, dedicated to Cypriot composers. In April 2022, he conducted his chamber work, “Antigone in Cripta”, based on the tragedy of Sophocles, for string quartet, percussion and mezzo-soprano, in three concerts in Limassol and Nicosia. He is currently pursuing composition studies at the Milan Conservatory.  

Other information

The Illica Festival is organized by the Municipality of Castell'Arquato, and is realized with the support of the Emilia Romagna Region and the Banca di Piacenza and Vigevano Foundation.

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