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ballo delle ingrate / monteverdi / alla Villa Médicis / romaeuropa 2014 / operadagen 2016

The work re-examines themes that were contemporary in 1608, when Monteverdi and first librettist, Ottavio Rinuccini, first staged the Ballo, in Mantova. 

At the heart of the matter, is marriage, and its refusal by a feminine type that resonates perpetually throughout history (literary or not): the ingrate, the unconventional woman that is unprepared to give of herself unconditionally. In this deconstruction of Monteverdi’s Opera, the Ingrates rise up against any form of reductionism of life’s complexity: rules, prejudice, segregation, all of the self-made cages our society (and our psyche's) have fabricated throughout the centuries, and across the world.

The Ingrates are proud of the uncommon destinies that lead them to beautiful but lonely choices. Refusing to submit to convention has sent them to “hell”. From this particular hell, the full force of a female “solo” voice is born, revealing a multiple Being, a resonance beyond, sex, race or status.

An ode to the beauty of interference using music/dance/electronics/video/and text.


The power of unruliness with which the ingrate refuses to tie herself to another person, in the belief that it is the only way to preserve her individuality, resists. An amazon, old-maid, shrew, emancipated woman, free and impossible, indomitable goddess, that is both talented and discomforting, attractive and feared, the Ingrate is sometimes in conflict with classically represented forms of femininity. While audacious and deeply ironic, this contemporary adaptation is never disrespectful of its classical material.


The ingrate’s condition addresses gender issues in an existential manner. Ingrate Sabina Meyer's solo performance reaches out beyond its repertory breaking through the conventions of musical theatre. This contemporary, multimedia approach, gives rise to an “open” show in which the relationship between spectator and event are progressively blurred. Lights, images and video-work bring forth a scene whose various elements: music, dance, the written word, images and sound, coexist in an original and non-hierarchical composition.

The baroque repertoire (which is based on but not limited to Monteverdi) runs in a continuous dialogue between truth and illusion, reality and spectacle. Claron Mc Fadden’s interpretation is both personal but philological, and keeps the fire of baroque aesthetics alive. This is life that imitates art that imitates life. A truth that is sublimated, but develops in music and words.

Marina Giovannini‘s choreography is experimental.: her figure moves alongside two very young dancers and together they explore elements of sixteenth century dance, transfiguring the era’s sculptural compositions, its bas-reliefs and squares, to create an orderly vulnerability that is fragile and transparent. The Ingrates’ souls are free and child-like, their beauty and their spontaneity can only survive if they remain unattached, or manage to escape being bound by convention.

Theodora Delavault’s original text is a non-linear composition that is freely inspired by Rinuccini’s libretto. It is the show’s invisible thread that develops fluidly with continuous subtle references to Monteverdi’s opera. The script is spoken, sung, projected or evoked. Words and sounds, songs and poetic references interweave with the music and subtly provide the work with an “educated” voice that creates a harmonious back and forth between the repertory’s musical score and a contemporary show, in a constant confrontation between life and imagination, text and context, digital and organic.

The free-range artistic approach and freedom of avant-garde cellist, Okkyung Lee, makes powerful connections between the ecstatic aesthetic of Baroque and Renaissance Italy, with the abstract use of improvisation, contemporary performance and electronic sound.

Director Letizia Renzini’s video and sound work is the scenery, and an important part of the narration, the scenography even: the contemporary space of an unfiltered, apoetic vision of reality. A possible world where nothing is real except the “voice” of the Ingrate, whether that “voice” is written, spoken or sung. The voice itself, of the story, of the singer, or the acoustic and electronic instruments, of the various sounds and field recordings… always says one and the same thing. It is the successful overcoming of limits (not boundaries) between the self and the external world, in an avant-garde “me”.

CAST: Direction, Video work, sound,

live mix- Letizia Renzini; Coreography, dance- Marina Giovannini; Original Poems and Libretto, Voice, and Performance -Theodora Delavault;

Claron McFadden (soprano); Mike Fentross (theorba); Sarah Ridy (harp); Okkyung Lee (cello)

On video: Nora Fisher (soprano); Nicola Wemyss (soprano); Sabina Meyer (soprano); Vincenzo Vasi (bass). Costumes: Lotte Stek

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