There are days when it’s nice to be surrounded by music in Taormina, a building in which to multiply emotions. And listen to it in a stone theater, in the fifth edition of the Stone Theater Festival, which carries out the civil commitment of Art in the theaters of Greco-Roman Sicily, is a mediumistic experience because the evocative-thaumaturgical power of music dilates the space-time dimension. At the center of everything, in the Taormina concerts of the Festival, un magnificent crossroads of notes, from rock to symphonic to opera, from Pink Floyd to Ennio Morricone to Verdi’s Traviata, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Calabria, conducted by the young Calabrian talent Filippo Arlia – a life inside music as a pianist, teacher and conductor – and the Coro Lirico Siciliano, an excellent musical reality produced by Alberto Munafò Siragusa and directed by Francesco Costa from Catania, opera singer, choir master and composer.
Thus, it was truly a mediumistic experience to listen to the masterpieces of Morricone, who traveled the world with the great auteur cinema, to feel strings, flutes, piano and drums, winds and xylophones on the skin, with a sumptuous crescendo of incredible sounds to reproduce whistling and clicking and stamping of horses and hissing on the reeds of a harmonica.
“My” Morricone – maestro Arlia tells us – is a show-homage to a Maestro who marked the music of the twentieth century and represents an indisputable symbol of Italianness in the world, and “my” Verdi tries to be very close to the young spectators but at the same time to respect the score that the Swan of Busseto has left us. And the important numbers of tickets issued in Taormina demonstrate this: 3000 for Pink Floyd, 4000 for Morricone, 2500 for La Traviata».
To guide the public in the musical enchantment of Morricone was the story of the master Francesco Costa: from “Once upon a time in the West” with its epic breath embellished by the voice of soprano Maria Francesca Mazzara, to the more overwhelming sounds of “Per un fist of dollars”, from the mysticism of “Canone inverso”, a piece for strings only , to “The legend of the pianist on the ocean” with the “talking” piano by Corrado Neri, from the passion-melodies of “Malena” to the bossa nova of “Metti una sera a cena”, from the love theme of “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso” with the voice of the tenor Alberto Munafò Siragusa to the arrangement of “La Califfa” by Corrado Neri, from the unforgettable oboe of Father Gabriel in “Mission” to the Death Theme of the “Untouchables” with the solo sax of Giovanni Manganaro, from sound textures of “Baaria” to the perfect consonance of images and sounds between violins, drums, trumpets and instruments such as the arghilophone that evokes the coyote of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”.
And there was a sentinel moon in the sky-fifth of Traviata, one of the most famous and most performed operas in the world: a demanding test for maestro Arlia who conducted the orchestra for the three acts with the stage behind him (directed by Salvo Dolce, filmed in Taormina by Dario Castro). The drama of Violetta Valery and Alfredo Germont is introduced by a scene of great visual impact: the red of Violetta’s dress (the talented Italian-French soprano Christelle Di Marco) and the total black of all her guests toasting at one of the parties of that Parisian demi monde immortalized by the “Lady of the Camellias” by Alexandre Dumas which inspired Verdi on a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. A vivid red and black, enhanced by the chiaroscuro lights of Gabriele Circo, which is already a prelude to death, while the famous waltz «Libiamo ne’ felici calici» is elevated.
Meanwhile, it is «Amore misterio» that explodes, «cross and delight to the heart» in the beautiful duet of Violetta with Alfredo (the tenor Francesco Castoro, with a clear timbre, and well placed in the role of the insecure lover) which reaches the climax in the the most well-known aria of Traviata, that «Love me Alfredo» in which the mastery of the violins is enriched by the virtuosic nuances of Di Marco, to which Alfredo replies with a convinced «De’ mie follenti spiriti». But between arias, duets and solos plotted by opposing tensions, reality breaks in with Giorgio Germont (the baritone Mario Cassi, with a strong vocal and stage presence) who forces Violetta to leave her son. And everyone is already ready to forget a humiliated Violetta at the party at Flora’s house (Licia Toscano) with a riot of matadors and gypsies (the flamenco dance corps from Murcia directed by Matilde Rubio). Up to the final pathos with the frenzy of the Parisian carnival evoked by the triumphal sounds of cymbals and drums while the dying Violetta, whose solo is already a funeral march, tightly embraced by Alfredo sings again with him the beautiful tale of love («Paris, oh darling, we will leave”).