photo by Stefano Cocco
Der Engel is the first of five Lieder (from the German "song") by Wagner on poems by Mathilde Wesendonk, originally composed for soprano and piano.
We are still strongly tied to the vision of the Angel in the century of romanticism and in that promise of an angel that belongs to us, our eyes see a sort of disappointment and betrayal, in a completely modern discomfort in the personal search for man and his relationship with God.
In fact, in the reinterpretation of Wagner's passage, we place the romantic idea of the figure of the angel before that of our times, who undoubtedly look at it more skeptically, but who, for better or for worse, can only return to it.
the first project I'm talking about is a reinterpretation of a piece by Wagner, called Der Engel. It is the first of the five lieders (from German, meaning "song") on the poetry of MAthilde Wesendonk, originally composed for soprano and piano.
I wrote this performance for 4 main elements: a soprano, a double bass, a small set of crystal glasses and a live electronics treatment of sound process and spatialisation. But I can gladly write the project for the musicians who will be interested, the important thing is to have a spirit similar to the type of performance. The musicians are the protagonists on stage, for each of them there will be a study of the image, with make up and dress. I try to explain a little the plot:
This is the poem of mathilde Wesendonck. it all starts from here. The song lasts a few minutes, but the performance could last from 30 minutes to an hour.
I'll show you.
In childhood's early days,
I often heard them speak of angels
Who would exchange Heaven's sublime bliss
For the Earth's sun
So that, when an anxious heart in dread
Is full of longing, hidden from the world;
So that, when it wishes silently to bleed
And melt away in a trickle of tears;
So that, when its prayer ardently
Pleads only for release,
Then the angel floats down
And gently lifts it to Heaven.
Yes, an angel has come down to me,
And on glittering wings
It leads, far away from every pain,
My soul now heavenward!
The character of the performance is a bit gloomy, the soprano and an angel will move in the scene, which I think can be interpreted by another singer or anyone who hears it, is a character that can be silent.
When MAthilde Wesendonck wrote this poem in the 1800s, people had a very romantic vision of an angel to which we are still attached. However today this view is different, is more reasoned and less confident, the concept of angel, which belongs to all cultures, has come back closer to the meaning of the term Angelo, which means "message". A message is information, information is knowledge, knowledge is interpreted as light.
Initially the soprano will find himself suffering, in an emotional state alternating between despair and anger. in her hands she will hold angel wings, broken (as if she had torn them from her angel, a symbol of her sense of loneliness and lost hopes). The dominant colors will be white and red.
Live electronics interventions will follow on the "complaints" of the lead voice together with the double bass. the scene changes when the angel appears recalled by the soprano's cry, but without wings, with the evident sign in the back of the wounds, of his loss. during the performance the soprano will interact with electronic devices in support of the scenographic elements capable of making changes to his song (in some cases he will be able to control them independently with gestures. in the end, a newfound closeness and trust with the angel will act as direction to the execution of the piece by Wagner.
Personally I was very inspired by the text of Der Engel, and although well aware and pleased of the fact that its interpretation can be multifaceted, in this poem I find there are words inserted with subtle simplicity but that in the context I find very strong, exactly like a wound, like a streak of red on white.
Try to think of the very "comforting" sense of the entire poem and musically of Wagner's composition itself and then again of the reference in the central verses to the blood or to the combination of the term blood and silence so close.