Michał Libera: “Lethe. Akuzmatyczna Opera Buffa”
Lethe. Opera Buffa Acusmatica
Lethe is an acousmatic opera comprised of recordings taken exclusively in Napoli and inlaid with the music of Luciano Cilio, short-lived local composer. The town is the place where opera buffa was born in early 18th century. It favored local dialects over official language, mundane heroes and crimes over gods and myths, real voices over operatic singing. All these features still constitute the vibe of the city which seems to be an opera in itself. Being in Napoli means being surrounded by recitatives and arias or rather by the unique mixture of both. The local dialect with its phrasing and intonation turns everyday public quarrels and calls into music gestures pointing right to the very heart of an opera – a landscape of characters, as Robert Ashley famously put it. The conceptual and structural framework of Lethe comes from topography of purgatory. It was often represented as an underwater mountain steming out of the sea straight into paradise. It is no surprise that the Phlegrean Fields, the land on which Napoli is situated, has long been considered the place of purgatory. However, there are local beliefs which far from the popular idea of purgatory as the transitory state. According to them, the souls of anonymous dead people remain there forever and may become traders with the alive. Perhaps this commerce with the dead explains why so many of the local expressive calls remain unanswered or rather answered in an inaudible way.
Michal Libera is a sociologist working in music field mostly as sound essayist, producer, curator and writer. He runs conceptual pop label Populista dedicated to mis- and over- interpretation of music and experiments with various sound narrations incl. tape music, installations and opera collaborating with Rinus van Majewska, Ralf Meinz and others. He lives in Warsaw and Naples.