Don Perlimplín: director’s notes

The ‘tale of Don Perlimplin’, which Bruno Maderna composed and conceived for the radio, is a work that is both emblematic and full of interesting suggestions. It has always been a challenge for anyone wanting to put it on the stage. In fact the narrative dimension is the element that prevails in Maderna’s transposition, which plays on the hidden ambiguity of the evocation of the imaginary: the imagination as a necessary state for a reception to be achieved through the medium of radio.

Our intention is to restore the narrative dimension of Maderna’s idea to the stage while at the same time evoking the person of Lorca and certain aspects of his theatre. A narrator, played by Andrea Brugnera, who will initially have le sembianze of Garcia Lorca himself will then turn into a sort of minstrel-balladeer – some kind of ideal Lorcan aoidos or bard – who, while adopting certain traits of a character from the Italian Commedia dell’Arte, will relate the events of Don Perlimplin and Belisa, explain their feelings and dialogues and report their sad epilogue. About Don Perlimplin he will stress not only the grotesque, caricatured sides, but also the depth of feeling and the tragic dimension. From the very start his tale will incorporate a vocabolary that includes (here and there) many features drawn from Il pubblico, Commedia senza titolo, the spoken prologues for I burattini col randello and Teatrino di Don Cristobal, right down to the Canción otoñal. In this way we feel the presence of the poet as a hidden prompter who lies in the shadows and puts the words into the mouth of our narrating voice.

In turn this narrating voice also makes us hear the voices of the protagonista and their banter, and engages in dialogue with the instruments/characters – flute/Perlimplin, sax/mother-in-law – which duly enter the theatrical action together with the dance and the marionettes. Garcia Lorca cultivated a great interest in marionettes and dedicated many works to them, and to the magical and naive expression of characters intimately tied to their popolar roots, like the vignettes of an Aleluya, or like the masks of the Italian Commedia dell’arte. It is no accident that Don Perlimplin itself has often been adopted and interpreted by various masters from the rich Spanish tradition of marionette theatre. And then there is Dance, because the tumultuous succession of musical ideas and suggestions (a strong feature of Maderna’s score) has suggested the construction of an itinerary that once again aims to act as a support for the imagination; in this case the ideas and promptings are those of a choreographer of contemporary dance, Susanna Beltrami. On one side of the stage (of the Teatro Camploy) we have the marionette theatre, and on the opposte side the chamber ensemble with the conductor. Seated in a semicircle are all the protagonists of the performance – soloists, singer, dancers, marionettes and puppeteers with the narrator in the middle – always ready to come onto the stage and give their contribution to this journey dell’imagination, in a caleidoscopic succession of music, dance and poetry.

Fabio Zannoni 

The moments of dance, which are centred on the character of Belisa, wish to represent desire and the imaginations of love expressed in the body of the white Belisa, through a non-plastic dance, in which the body, apparently boneless, moves in space in a liquid form, like the languor of desire, like a flow that crosses the sound and words of this score… like the wind.

It is only at the end that the movement of dance becomes transformed and adapts to the framework of awareness and the geometries of life, with its absurd happenings and the sharp edges of reality.

Susanna Beltrami