Civitella Ranieri

Civitella Ranieri
  Fellows' Forum

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ken Ueno's (CRF 2013) 'Gallo'

Ken Ueno's (CRF 2013) new one-act opera, Gallo, is based on his time at Civitella.  The title derives in part to the wine pitchers on the dinner table each evening.  This is Ken's description of the piece:
"Gallo is an evening-long chamber opera that investigates how the landscape and man shape and transform each other. The main inspiration for the work is places where traces of human civilization, ancient and modern, have decayed over time and have transformed into landscapes that now appear to be more natural than manmade. These spaces are repositories of human memory on one hand, but also confound man's sense of agency and freedom, and his sense of mastery over nature. Examples of these spaces are: Monte Testaccio, a hill in Rome, now rife with discos, which was made into a hill as an ancient site where clay vases were deposited; the Disabitato, the region in Rome, within the Aurelian wall, where the landscape reclaimed uninhabited space during the 18th century; and Detroit. Throughout the chamber opera, arias comment on these spaces, over the backdrop of a landscape, a beach, made of Cheerios. The beach of Cheerios gives birth to a human protagonist, serves as a repository of memory (as a screen for projections of family trips to the beach), and ultimately serves as a Zen garden of contemplation. Several arias intercut the various transformations of the beach. In one, a rooster, named Farinelli, sings a non-sense aria, in chicken-ese (with English supertitles), about the fundamental questions of ontology, the chicken or the egg. In another aria, a female protagonist waxes admiringly about bee eaters, beautiful birds that eat bees, but is afraid that their beauty might kill us all."

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