The director of the Fabulous Youth, among others, Mario Martone brings the text of Mérimée on many Italian stages: got famous from the opera comique by Georges Bizet, Carmen, thanks to the rewriting of one of the most important playwrights of our time, Enzo Moscato, now gets a new life. We have seen it at Teatro Argentina in Rome.
The story is always that one of Carmen, the proud and indomitable Spanish gypsy claiming full freedom on her life and on her body. In the revisiting version of Martone, we are not in Seville but in a Naples’ slum, full of illegal trafficking, prostitution but also a real crossroads of languages – Arab, African, Latin – and cultures that make the city the heart of the Mediterranean. “There is no defined age, even if we feel flashed as much of post-war Naples as the crime city of nowadays. There is no Micaela of the original work, which does not exist in Mérimée – she was actually used by Bizet for moral and musical reasons”, says Martone.
Iaia Forte, actress of ductile talent, is an unedited Carmen, anarchist and full of vitality, a “mixture of vulgarity and rhymes”, as she likes to call herself. Like her Spanish namesake, Carmèn shows towards the others inscrutable and hostile feelings, almost like a clever weapon of defence against the world. Here we are facing a very different character, a woman more contemporary and complex, able to act as a steward of the condition of the marginalized, for those who, like her, are engaged in a daily struggle against a world that pretends not to see them.
Alongside the noble madam of the brothels, Roberto de Francesco in the shoes of Cosè, a Venetian soldier to whom Napoli does not forgive his passion without limits for Carmen, that will take him to choices contrary to his honest mind. While in the original work Carmen dies, never giving up her independence, and thus becoming an icon of the feminist movement, in the text of Moscato the Neapolitan Carmèn is blinded by José, and becomes a symbol of a wounded but proud Naples that continues to reiterate its refusal to the rules and social conventions.
Although the dialogue may seem a bit too over the top to those not accustomed to the Neapolitan melodrama, in homage to the great Neapolitan author of popular theatre, Raffaele Viviani, the music, inspired by Bizet and performed live by the Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, makes the difference. Directed by Mario Tronco, the ethnic group members depart from the repertoire of the Neapolitan folk music, mixing it and dipping it in with rock, pop, reggae, and classical, and end up reinvigorating a timeless story.
by Enzo Moscato
adapted and directed by Mario Martone