One of the particularities of the Cavalleria Rusticana / Sancta Susanna programme opening soon at Opera Bastille is that the production of Cavalleria Rusticana in the first half of the programme is a revival: Mario Martone staged it in 2011 for La Scala Milan. At that time the work was coupled with Pagliacci, whereas at the Opéra Bastille, it will be followed by Hindemith’s Sancta Susanna. A number of critics praised the finesse and virtuosity of the Italian director’s production.
“ We were expecting Mario Martone to have remained in the 19th century atmosphere that infused his film Noi credevamo. We were delighted by his decision to transpose the action of both operas to the end of the 20th century […]. The ensemble scenes are dazzlingly natural, in both the summer festivities of Pagliacci […] and the Easter celebrations in “Cavalleria”. In the latter, […] Martone places the chorus on an empty stage, some facing the audience, others facing away from it and shrouded in darkness. They are listening to a sermon, which has been perfectly reconstituted, and seem to be both part of the production and something external to it, sitting on their chairs in the church. Martone is well served by Pasquale Mari’s marvellous lighting design.”
Michelangelo Zurletti, La Repubblica, 20th January 2011
“Mario Martone’s production, created in 2011, shows a sobriety both revealing and spectacular […]. The rift between ritual and individual drama, so well represented on the stage, is reflected in the orchestra.”
Angelo Folletto, La Repubblica, 19th January 2014
“The director, Mario Martone, usually expresses himself from behind the camera or in writing. Recently he has taken part in a number of operatic productions […] Martone has chosen to differentiate the two works [Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci], by giving us a minimalist reading of “Cavalleria” stripped of all its usual flowery rusticity. He has given the characters, freshly emerged from Verga’s play, the masks of a “human tragedy” both passionate and universal.
Daniela Zacconi, Il Corriere della Sera, 11th January 2011
“Cavalleria Rusticana has been conceived as a choreography: on stage, movements and stage props are as rare as they are significant, necessary and essential. Spaces are created solely by light: amongst the other highly inspired ideas, we should mention the assimilation of the house and the church into a single location, the constant presence of the chorus on stage and its position either facing the audience or with its back to it, signifying inclusion or exclusion, tolerance or condemnation of the heroine.”
Fabio Vittorini, Il Manifesto 20th June 2015
“The intention of Martone is clear: to reduce as much as possible – almost to eradicate – the distance that separates the audience from the stage and to create a continuum between the artists and the spectators, between the action represented and the emotion experienced. The Neapolitan director aims to affirm that what we see on stage is real life and he explores this axiom through his highly individual vision of these two major works of musical verismo. Martone installs, elongates and stretches the stage, extending it right into the stalls to achieve his objective. […] His “Cavalleria” is characterised by an almost sacred stillness. Here, all is static, governed by a densely significant and perfect geometry.”
Andrea Dellabianca, gbopera.it, 1st February 2011