Damiano Michieletto: “In my ‘West Side Story’ everyone in Caracalla will be a little sweaty”

The director had carte blanche for the creation of the 2025 Festival program: “I will make proposals that offer novelty and spectacularity”

It will be a program full of proposals that offer “novelty” And “spectacularity“and that they may be”exciting” what Damiano Micheletto will prepare for the Caracalla Festival 2025which coincides with the Jubilee. “I haven’t yet focused on any precise ideas, let’s start with the title proposed by the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, ‘West Side Story‘ Of Leonard Bernsteinan absolute masterpiece of the 20th century, for which I will try to offer my best ideas”, explains Micheletto himself in an interview with Adnkronos. And he adds: “If I had to say what will be a characteristic of my installation, I would say that everyone on stage must be a little sweaty. ‘West Side Story’ celebrates the power of rhythmof vitality and youth and I would like to be able to bring this to the public extraordinary adrenaline rush“.

Venetian, born in 1975, Damiano Michieletto is one of the most appreciated musical theater directors, famous for his productions in major European theaters and festivals. Tonight, Friday 13 October, the new staging of the ‘Julius Caesar in Egypt‘ Of Georg Friedrich Handelthe eighth to sign for the Rome Opera Housewhich a specialist sees as Rinaldo Alessandrini on the podium and three countertenors, Raffaele Pe, Carlo Vistoli and the American Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen in the main roles. And the Capitoline Lyric Foundation itself gave him ‘carte blanche’ to ‘invent’ the program for the 2025 Caracalla Festival.

It’s still too early to understand what will be in the program, but “my attempt will be to make some proposals that offer a good dose of novelty – explains Michieletto – knowing that Caracalla is a very large place with particular needs and demands proposals that can be exciting“. The summer festival of the Rome Opera has transformed over the years to become a real Festival with opera, dance, cinema, theatre, symphonic music, jazz and pop. “A formula – observes the director who won the Abbiati Prize in 2017 for ‘La damnation de Faust’ by Berlioz at the Costanzi – which on a theoretical level I really like because the multidisciplinarity of languages is right, especially in a place like the Baths of Caracalla which lives on big events and where the audience expects something spectacular. So I will certainly propose a spectacular but varied offering, so as not to reduce it to custom, in the sense that the spectator who goes to Caracalla does not have to know beforehand what he will find.”

The director Michieletto’s stylistic code is always based on a contemporary rereading of the classics of opera, but without ever betraying the author’s intention, indeed often revealing new aspects hidden in the folds of history. Despite that, his directions are frequently debated by the more traditionalist public. “The important thing is what you do – says the director – and discussions about tradition and innovation are an inevitable product of the proposal that is made. There is nothing wrong with discussion and debate, it is right that there is, it is part of a constructive dialogue between audience and stage. I try to understand the criticisms, to listen to them, but at the same time I try to remain faithful to my idea. In fact, I think that since the figure of the director was born, a path of interpretation of the classics was also born and I am one of many who is part of this path; all directors in one way or another tend to read and review under a personal aesthetic the opera. Even those that are defined as ‘traditional’.”

A bit like what also happens with music, where the conductor gives his own reading of the work. “Yes, but the conductor is within a score that is well codified – observes Michieletto – the director is not and he must make all the choices that concern the stage. They are two very different jobs. Music is certainly the first direction of an opera but while the director has a group of musicians with all the notes marked in the score for their instruments, the director has no guide and has to invent everything that happens on stage”. Even in prose theater the director always gives a new reading of the text, but the controversies are less insistent: “In prose this discussion is not as strong as in opera – he explains – because there is only the text, the work is less codified and there is more freedom, so the prose audience does not have expectations like the opera audience and goes to see a show with a freer, more open attitude“.

The opera, however, is a type of show that has been going on for more than four centuries and its “continuity is always in the relationship between the audience and the stage, from the baroque to the contemporary. I think there is a future for operaotherwise I wouldn’t do this job, but we need to tell today’s stories with today’s musicobviously not talking about the news but about current and universal stories. The composer must not place himself on a pedestal but on the same level as the audience and try to invent something that satisfies the spectators. Writing a beautiful song that lasts three minutes can be easy, but writing an opera that lasts even three hours is not easy and today’s composers have to do this”, concludes Michieletto.

(Of Goofy Orlando)