The Dark Side of the Opera theatrical book launch and performance went off with pizzazz in Sydney on Saturday night.
Dancers and singers performed in front of a crowd of more than 60 people at the Abraham Mott Hall in Nita McCrae Park in The Rocks.
Experimental in nature, the show stretched the audience’s understanding of what a multi-media artist and poet can achieve in working on the themes of a poetry collection and applying the ideas to other arts, such as video, dance and song. The cycle of poems within the collection on which the show was based is called Tales of Morgana.
Poet and novelist, Ferdinando Manzo, directed the show which sets the scene of Sydney’s cafes and bars as a fertile atmosphere for creative writing.
Morgana, my love … just a few words poured onto a bar like wine in a glass on a night of memories, of melancholy
As Manzo writes in his Introduction:
‘The Dark Side of the Opera poems were written over one year of work and holiday, May 2016 to May 2017. Months spent among loves and disappointments, fears and hopes, shared with old and new friends, the constellations or comets of a universe in perpetual motion.’
‘Some friends will recognise themselves in some ways. Others will not understand the meanings of the poems, or maybe they will not even read them. But one way or another, I hope we can always find a cafe or bar to meet and chat together,’ he said.
The music for the show was topped and tailed by love songs: Caruso by Lucio Dalla about Italy’s legendary tenor; and a hit 1990s song, Quando, by Pino Daniele. Manzo’s lyrics were set to music in contemporary songs composed by Donna Ng.
The performance was puzzling and dark (with lights dimmed). It was also memorable, sad at times, and often deliberately atonal, which singers Hayley Reed and Donna Ng handled with ease. Despite its overarching ‘dark side,’ glimpses of harmony and beauty broke through with force even as Manzo’s poetry remained provocative and challenging throughout.
dominator of the universe,
hindering the galaxies
of my madness
from disappearing into emptiness
… my unique obsessive vision that always talks of you, Morgana
Manzo showed his appreciation to all the friends who gave their support for the show. Donna Ng: musical composition and singing; Hayley Reed: singing and reading; Micheal Jeffrey Allen: reading; Ian Cifuentes: main percussion; Nico Raibier: video producer; Thomas Cauquil: assistant producer; Ling Ker: co-ordinator; Alessandro Mecalli: actor; Michele Majavacchi: actor; Joe Phillips: actor; Micheal Reidy: actor; and dancers, Joey Curcio, Stella D’Esposito and Arianna De Martino. Live music – Deva Permana: drums; David Park: guitar; John Maddox Duo: bass.
Special thanks went to Roo O’Loughlin, Eugene Tjandra Wibawa, and Faisal Sayani who filmed the performance.
The poetry collection is available for sale here.
Copyright text Ferdinando Manzo and Sydney School of Arts & Humanities www.ssoa.com.au