Biennale di Venezia 2008-2011

“Today’s semantic dictionary can put us in contact with other cultures, embolden us to recuperate magmatic sonorities. The Tarantola del Salento, the songs of Sardinia, African polyphonies… Ethnic music can open deep landscapes of the soul, obscure regions, forgotten loci of consciousness. It’s necessary to be courageous, and, like Tarkovsky’s Stalker, venture to where ferocious energies lie, in their primitive state. Not “stravaganti” (strange) but “extra vagans” (wandering beyond) towards the incandescent core of origins

From 2008 to 2011 Francesconi was the artistic director of the Venice Music Biennale. His imprint was immediately recognisable in the themes of the four festivals (“Roots/Future”, “The body of sound”, “Don Giovanni and the man of stone” and “Mutants”) and it broadened out further in the conception of the festival as the ideal place “to seek new and different forms of perception and attention.”[52]

Beyond the confines of concert halls and theatres, listeners freely chose how to approach the music, which was disseminated through the city as though on a stage in movement, accessible and without limits. This was the basic idea behind Exit, the celebratory evening/night that brought each of the four festivals to a close, transforming the Teatro alle Tese into a distended human body (Exit 02), “an experience with variable geometry, a new way of living space, sound and time from sunset to dawn”,[53]  or inviting the public to take a boat towards the Island of San Michele to pay homage to Stravinsky in the form of three clarinet pieces at his tomb and to then participate in a banquet that evoked the finale of Don Giovanni.

Don Giovanni was also at the heart of one of the most famous experiments in this four-year period: “Palazzo Pisani, home of the B. Marcello Conservatory, is the site chosen for the staging of Don Giovanni a Venezia, conceived by Francesconi himself. For this initiative, which has been defined as an opera-labyrinth, the public is asked not just to exercise its sensibility but also its intelligence, so as to try to create a kind of gap between space and time in which music can be inserted.

After scrapping the old structure of the concert, Francesconi borrows three key scenes from Mozart’s original – the duel between Don Giovanni and the Commendatore, the seduction of Zerlina and the death of Don Giovanni – and puts them on stage cyclically, in three different locations within the ancient Venetian palace, inserting in the loggie, palace rooms and courtyards another eight original pieces commissioned from contemporary composers.

The spectator, as if he were to enter into a huge gallery and to decide autonomously how and what to look at, will have before his eyes a plurality of musical, scenic, theatrical and visual events to combine, putting aside the perceptive habits of space and time.”[54]