Damiano Michieletto backs to Rome directing “Il viaggio a Reims”

Imagine to be in a museum one evening , surrounded by Goya, Van Gogh and Magritte’s paintings and by Rossini’s music. In reality we are not in a museum but in a theatre, to be more precise, we are at the Rome Opera! Il Viaggio a Reims by Gioachino Rossini will be on stage – for the first time at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma – from 14- 24 June, 2017, on the podium Stefano Montanari will conduct the Orchestra of the Teatro dell’Opera of Rome. This is a co-production with the Dutch National Opera directed by Damiano Michieletto. The Venetian filmmaker, who returns to Rome after his successful directions of Giacomo Puccini’s triptych, has set the story of a group of aristocrats on their way to the coronation of Charles X in a museum, among real characters and paintings by Picasso, Keith Haring and Frida Kahlo. Il viaggio a Reims was written to celebrate the coronation of the French King and it was premiered at the Théâtre Italien in Paris in 1825.
Michieletto reinterpreted the story by creating an atmosphere which interacts with the surreal game of the “theatre within theatre”, with the combination of different artistic forms, and with Rossini’s riveting irony. The Hotel of the Golden Lily is then transformed into the Golden Lily Gallery, owned by Madama Cortese , run by Maddalena, curated by the art historian Don Profondo where Lord Sidney works as a restorer.  The distinguished guests are the subjects of a series of paintings that are part of an exhibition which is being dismantled, they are going to be transferred to a museum in Reims. They are replaced with new famous acquisitions such as , the Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear by Van Gogh, the Son of Man by Magritte, The Duchess of Alba by Goya, a mural by Keith Haring and many others. The characters, caught in the middle of the preparations for the move, interact with each other and mingle with the real world.  Michieletto’s direction is a well balanced mechanism, and runs like a perfect machine, thanks also to Paolo Fantin’s set design,  Carla Teti’s costumes and Alessandro Carletti’s lighting design.
At the end of a sequence of bizarre events dictated by a complicated plot created to justify the celebratory intent of Luigi Balocchi’s libretto, all the characters gather to take part in a tableau vivant which reminds us of a painting by François Gérard of 1825 dedicated to the coronation of Charles X. In this tableau all the characters come together for a final toast to celebrate the arrival of the new painting at the museum.  After his direction of The Barber of Seville at Caracalla in the 2014 Summer Season, Maestro Stefano Montanari  returns to conduct the Orchestra of the Costanzi , where he will have the chance to play with the surreal settings created by Michieletto and the special energy of Rossini’s captivating music.
“This is an opera which doesn’t have a real drama in it- says Damiano Michieletto – so when I started working on it, I tried to find a storyline that was not only funny and brilliant, I needed a chain of events that were related to the reason why this stage work was originally written. The story is set in a museum in the run up to the opening of an exhibition. All the characters are anxious and in a state of uncontrolled excitement for the forthcoming event, which in the libretto corresponds to the departure for Reims. Some characters are real: Madama Cortese, for example, is the director of the Museum. Other characters are historical figures, belonging to the paintings on display in the museum. The arrival of a large and mysterious painting will give the story a twist, closely connected to the historical occasion for which Il Viaggio a Reims was originally written: the coronation of Charles X, King of France.”