Good morning, Roberto Soldatini, and thank you for your kind answers to my questions. Before talking about your lonely experience of the sea, can you tell me something about your previous life as a musician?
After receiving a first musical training from my father (first trumpet of the Orchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia), I studied at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome. From the age of 15 he gave concerts as a cellist. I was also a member of the Orchestra of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, where I met Giuseppe Patanè, who offered me to become his assistant. Later I was chosen by Myung-Whung Chung as his assistant at the Opéra Bastille. Since my debut in Italy, in Spoleto, as a conductor, I have worked as a conductor, equally divided between the symphonic and the operatic genres. In 1992 I opened the season of the National Theater of Athens and I participated in the inaugural concert after the restoration of the “Maria Callas” theater, directing L’Assedio di Corinto of Rossini. On that occasion I met a collector who gave me his eighteenth century cello. Together with Leo de Berardinis I created Studio sul Don Giovanni di Mozart (represented in Bologna, at the Sacra Malatestiana, in Spoleto, etc.), which gave me the opportunity to start a long collaboration and friendship with the famous actor-director (told in a chapter of the book La terza, published by Titivillus). After the first chamber opera lyric Come le maree sotto la luna (on libretto by Leo de Berardinis, taken from Shakespeare’s Re Lear, Teatro Verdi 1997) I dedicated myself to the activity of composer: in collaboration with Ruggero Cappuccio and Claudio di Palma I wrote some works aimed at merging the drama theater with the lyrical theater: Pulcinell’Ade, Manfred (from Byron), La favola dell’amore (by Hesse), represented at the Benevento Città Spettacolo festival. Since 1984 I work as a cello teacher at the Conservatory of Music. Currently to that of Avellino. In Naples I enjoyed debuting as a leading actor in Meglio la morte che una tal sorte, taken from José Saramago, directed by Luca di Tommaso, at the Teatro Bellini. As a writer I published three books. In 2014 La musica del mare (Marinkovich prize for literature) and in 2016 Sinfonie Mediterranee (both editions Nutrimenti). The French translation (edition Zeraq), La musique de la mer won the Prix Albatros 2017 (first non-French award-winning author). The novel Denecia, autobiografia di una barca, was published by Mursia in May this year.
How was your choice to sail in the company of a cello? Which cello and what scores do you take with you in the waves?
Actually, when I decided to live on a boat, I was fondling the idea of leaving the cello, because I was going to turn the page and launch myself close to a new adventure. Then it was the sea itself that suggested a new way of considering music and interpretation. At first my sea suggested a different way of playing, returning to the rhythms of nature, then a concert inspired me, the one I’m carrying around in Italy, entitled “The music of the sea”, where I play and act simultaneously. But I do not simply read texts with a musical accompaniment: the rhythms and melodies of the voice are written in the score together with the part of the cello. An imaginary route through mythical scenes of sea literature. The scores music I carry with me are white sheets, on which I write notes with sea water. Moreover, it is difficult to load many things on the boat – and the return to the essential is one of the things that fascinated me the most about the idea of living in a boat – so the scores I brought are those in my memory. And then the sea is already a score: the sound of the wind, the one that generates inflating the sails or making shrouds and halyards vibrate, the sound of the waves breaking and that of the hull that furrows them. All this is already a music, with its rhythms, its melodies, its polyphony, its harmonies. The cello that sails with me is the only one I have, the one that was given to me by a Greek shipowner collector. It is said to be a Stradivarius, but the appraisals that have been made to verify this attribution are discordant between them. However, Stradivarius or not, it is the only eighteenth-century cello to have salt on the skin. [to be continued ⇒]