In the lost world of Ajax. Micheletti directs the first of the tragedies of the 59th season in Syracuse


By John

Dripping blood, the erased world of Ajax. The era (the epic) of the greatest of the Homeric heroes after Achilles ends up in a gigantic slaughterhouse – adorned with dripping entrails and torn meat, filled with groans and roars, in a painful and terrifying distortion of the human. Of the greatest of the “former” heroes, giving way to the race of politicians and hucksters, the “petty ungrateful Atrides” – as at the end of the acknowledgments the powerful choir will point out, reaffirming the percussive effectiveness of the voice and the strength of the music (original, by Giovanni Sollima), two of the most valuable things in the before the tragedies of the 59th season of classical performances for Inda at the Greek Theater of Syracuse«Ajax» by Sophocles staged by Luca Micheletti with the beautiful translation by Walter Lapini.

Tragedy of a man and end of a world: Ajax (played with sure force by the director himself, an acclaimed baritone, in whose tones and choices the operatic etymology can be felt), driven mad by Athena (an androgynous, cruel and disturbing Athena, that of Roberto Latini, who is also a grotesque messenger ), he massacres herds believing he is hitting his enemies, the Atrides who by deception had Achilles' weapons assigned to Odysseus, the hated Odysseus whom Athena favors and protects, rather than him.

His world, already marginal and unpopular with the powerful, dissolves into madness and in the blood, which from the brutally disembowelled carcasses splashes and infiltrates every surface, skin, dress: it is on the face and the armor of the protagonist (thick with restraint straps, in the idea of ​​the costume designer Daniele Gelsi, in collaboration with Elisa Balbo), it is on the white dress of the slave-bride Tecmessa (an intense and passionate Diana Manea, who gives the necessary strength to her clear pain), it seems to drip from the purple dress of Ate Thanatos (Lidia Carew) who dances supplely among the shreds of bodies and of the great soul of the hero.

Yet it will be Odysseus himself (the multifaceted Daniele Salvo), the hero famous for his cunning, the weaver of deception, who will show himself empathetic and full of compassion towards Ajax, and his subtlety this time will be to the benefit of his personal enemy: he will convince the Atrides (the arrogant and stolid Menelaus by Michele Nani and the pleased Agamemnon by Edoardo Siravo) to grant the burial of the suicidal hero, paradoxically thus sanctioning his defeat, and the definitive victory of a world of words and mediation that undermines and supplants the granite world of strength and honorwho had been Ajax and died with him, in the senseless bloodbath that continues in suicide, and finally is distant and remote like the gigantic calcined bones of some fabulous creature of the past (the skull and vertebrae: remains of who was the straight-backed hero…): Nicolas Bovey's strong scenography explains, with cyclopean wonder, this passage (almost in an imaginative journey backwards from a canvas by Francis Bacon, or from an extreme, bloody performance of Hermann Nitsch to a gigantic seventeenth-century “Vanitas”), which marks, in fact, the two distinct parts, cut by an insistent caesura of disorientating darkness, of one a show all based on visual wonder rather than emotional intensity. And which, despite the insistent proposal of the bloody effects of disputes and human excesses, renounces any allusion or reference to the bloody contemporaneity we are experiencing.

The sound body of the tragedy is very unitary and coherent, while exploring every nuance of expression: Giovanni Sollima's rich score aligns word and musicextends (and captures us) in the beautiful parts entrusted to the choir in the three Stasimi, thickens and modulates the drama, with the evocative and peremptory power of the music performed in the theater, through the cello trio (Francesco Angelico, Christian Barraco, Cecilia Costanzo), percussion (Giovanni Caruso) and harp (Giuseppina Vergine), and the actor-musicians Marcello Zinzani (clarinet) and Paolo Leonardi (trombone).

Excellent, it was said, the choir, which profoundly animates the frenetic scene, directed by the masters Davide Cavalli and Marcello Mancini and with the choreography by Fabrizio Angelini: the choirboys, Giorgio Bongiovanni from Messina, Lorenzo Grilli, Mino Manni, Francesco Martucci, and then Giovanni Accardi, Gaetano Aiello, Ottavio Cannizzaro, Pasquale Conticelli, Giovanni Dragano, Raffaele Ficiur, Gianni Giuga, Marcello Mancini. As always, the kids from the Academy of Art of Ancient Drama (a hotbed of talent and national educational excellence) are impeccable, here in the guise of the sailors of Ajax and Erinyes, soldiers, gods.
Tommaso Cardarelli is an effective Teucer, half-brother of Ajax. He tenders the appearance, in the guise of Eurysaces, little son of Ajax and Tecmessa, of the director's very young daughter, Arianna, who draws smiles and applause (but perhaps distracts and dilutes the dramatic force of the scene).

We will never tire of reminding, as the managing director and interim superintendent Marina Valensise does in the rich booklet that traditionally accompanies the shows, the importance and uniqueness of Inda's cultural project – not “re-adapting” but “rediscovering the classics” – which begins, for each show, with the translation entrusted to great scholars and extends up to the care of the stage photos, work of a group of extraordinary photographers. Fortunately – one might think after seeing the mighty scenery-body of Ajax – we are not walking among the colossal remains of a consumed world, as if they were cyclopean remains that induce only disturbing wonder in us, if we manage to understand and restore its meaning and celebrate it the value: we men, “ghosts and vain shadows”, at the mercy of the capricious will of the gods, we have only our present, our word, our gesture that can be made, becomes theater, sharing, strength. In Syracuse – and the applause from the public confirmed it this time too – we return every year to celebrate exactly this.
On stage, alternating with «Fedra», until 7 June.