The last hero dies with Ajax


By John

The madness of Ajax, the loss of his heroism, the spell of the gods, the transition to a new world. Sophocles' “Ajax”, translated by Walter Lapini, will open the 59th season of classical performances of the Inda Foundation at the Greek theater on May 10th. Luca Micheletti he is the director and protagonist.

«With the death of Ajax the entire epic world dies for me. Ajax we can say that, as for the heroes of Troy, he is the last hero of the ancient world. Whoever remains, like Odysseus, is already a hero of the new world. Certainly from then on we differ in terms of our approach to the reality of men and also to our relationship with the gods.”

You are a director and have reserved the role of the protagonist. She has already done it other times, but for the ancient cavea it is new.

«It is a use that I have often put into practice also because as a director I understand my works better from the inside and inhabiting them becomes an invaluable opportunity where it has a dramaturgical foundation. In this case it has. And the role of Ajax is particularly effective to be handled in this way, because she is a very special protagonist who dies about halfway through the tragedy. So her contribution is fundamental, but then she disappears from the stage and leaves the director all the leisure to continue his work from outside.”

The last staging of Ajax was in 2010 with director Daniele Salvo who she instead brings as an actor and in a main role which is that of Odysseus.

«I liked creating bridges with previous editions. In addition to Daniele, who directed in 2010, we also have in the cast Edoardo Siravo who played Menelaus in the 80s directed by Antonio Calenda and who here plays the part of the older brother, therefore Agamemnon. I was interested in the fact that there was this sort of link with previous productions, creating a long arc of Ajax in Syracuse that is also reflected in some way in the cast. It seems to me that it is one of the possibilities that we can breathe here on the Temenite, which recalls special energies, a sort of epic breath in which Sophocles goes beyond the interpreters. Precisely thanks to the interpreters we can witness a continuity over the last 50 years like a ritual to which we return. Who knows, I might have to come back in forty years to make a new Ajax in another guise…”.

You have dealt with many spaces, but the Greek theater hides a particular magic but also some pitfalls.

«I would say peculiarities: every time you deal with a space that was born in a world that by convention and customs distances itself from ours by millennia, you have to think that there is a practice to be recreated and therefore every show is different . You can't think about reviving the ancient theater in a “philological” way because it would mean putting on masks, but you can't even think about being in a normal indoor theater. In this sense, my experience on very different stages was useful to me, both in terms of genre, because I have a long “affair” with opera, and because I have expertise in the functioning of very anomalous stages, such as the Verona Arena. I tried to create a specific setup, so it won't be a normal illustrative scenography but will have a lot of the installation.”

What should we expect?

«I'm giving some red herrings so that there is a surprise effect. There is a reference to the world of giants, to the world of titans, to the world of fallen colossi and Ajax himself is one of these because throughout Sophocles' tragedy he is spoken of as the greatest of the Achaean heroes. Of course I mean it metaphorically but also a little metaphysically. When in the second part of the tragedy we talk about a debate in front of the hero's body, we take this expression at its word and literally move inside the hero's body. But Sophocles is respected to the letter. As the famous hermeneutic circle says, there is no interpretation without commentary and there is no commentary without interpretation. By comment in this case I mean a sort of story around the original text. The installation tells of a sort of passage between an archaic civilization and a world after. On the other hand, this ancient world cannot be represented in a historicized way for the simple reason that the Trojan War never happened. So there is no historical era in which to place it. Are we in the world of myth and when does myth take place? My answer is: within us. How this should actually be achieved within a specific design of the scenes, of the costumes, I believe falls within the realm of interpretation rather than the historicization of philology.”

You are a famous baritone. She wanted Giovanni Sollima's music to be performed live.

«Sollima's score includes seven instruments. I strongly wanted the presence of this great signature of our world composition because I wanted to bring a part of my history to Syracuse but also because, and someone more important than me said it, the birth of tragedy has to do with the spirit of music and therefore bringing live music back both in vocal and instrumental terms to this auditorium seemed urgent to me. We have a group of excellent performers and we worked in close contact with Sollima to ensure that the placement of the music was as significant as possible from a dramaturgical point of view and not simply background music.”

Photo Centaro