Victor Hugo once wrote that 'theatre is not the land of reality, but the land of truth'. As the European Capital of Culture for 2019, Matera has chosen to be the narrative voice of our times, offering an exceptional stage: from an unconventional place with a history of shame and redemption, the Sassi stone districts become a receptacle of stories. They transform into a fictitious reality in which the spectator is immersed not only spiritually, but also physically, by following the roads that lead from the centre to the Gravina canyon, pursuing a process of catharsis to then be brought back to reality, amazed and freed.
Artists from the local creative scene, in collaboration with international partners, have given life to innovative shows with new protagonists - the citizens who participated in the various open workshops that took place throughout the year. Matera proved to be a pioneer of a new way of performing, bringing the neuroses of our time onto the scene, breaking down the distinction between actors and spectators, reinterpreting ancient and familiar voices for the city. Get comfortable and... on with the show!
'The Seven Capital(ist) Sins' is the prologue to 'La Cavalleria Rusticana', part of the 'Inhabiting the Opera' project, co-produced by the Matera-Basilicata 2019 Foundation and the Teatro San Carlo of Naples: a travelling show directed by Giorgio Barberio Corsetti, where actors and citizens animated the Sassi stone districts with a unique and evocative enactment of the seven deadly sins. The spectacle of the Murgia at sunset and the two masks depicting Good and Evil in eternal conflict also become a part of the Choir's message, highlighting how the possibility of creating an Earthly Paradise is not the result of mere abstraction, but depends on choosing some paths over others.
With 'La Cavalleria Rusticana', the setting of the Sassi stone districts is not only an exceptional stage, but also serves as the perfect backdrop for projections that create a 360° view of the scene. For those unfamiliar with their history it may seem incredible, but not too long ago the Sassi stone districts were not only not considered a heritage worth protecting, but even something to be forgotten; the show, which went live on Rai5, in 2020 will continue its journey into cinemas around the world and will also be available on DVD, replicating the success that Mascagni's work already had in the early ‘1900s and showing a slice of unknown Matera.
Scenes from the "Cavalleria Rusticana" (2019-08-02) by Digital LighthouseMatera European Capital of Culture 2019
Piazza San Pietro Caveoso during the "Cavalleria Rusticana" (2019-08-02) by Digital LighthouseMatera European Capital of Culture 2019
The "Inhabiting the Opera" shows (2019-08-02)Matera European Capital of Culture 2019
'Birds. Miracle exercises' is the theatrical work staged by the Teatro delle Forche.
Inside the Palazzo del Casale, the historic headquarters of the Matera-Basilicata 2019 Foundation, the show unfolded in five different settings: in each one spectators were able to explore a possible city model, characterised by dreams and frustrations; at the end of the path, the scene moved outside where, in the familiar light of the Sassi stone districts, the citizens, with the help of an actor, performed abstraction exercises to imagine another way of experiencing the city and being a community. In this event, the influences of the theatre found greater strength in the surrounding environment, since in a certain sense it was the latter around which the theme of the opera revolved.
"Birds. Miracle exercises" (2019-12-01) by Digital LighthouseMatera European Capital of Culture 2019
Amongst the artists whose creative process was influenced by the sight of the Sassi stone districts, Georg Friedrich Haas was no exception. The Austrian composer, who in a 2017 poll for the magazine 'Classic Voice' was voted almost unanimously by one hundred experts as 'the author of the most beautiful music composed since 2000', brought to the city of the Sassi stone districts a psychogeographic mapping of his emotions. 'Music for Matera' consists of six ensembles designed for six specific places in the city and performed by eighty musicians: an event in which music and performers become one with the surrounding environment, providing the audience with a complete sensorial experience.
"Music for Matera" by G. F. Haas, IV station (2019-09-21) by Enzo Epifania - DiotimagroupMatera European Capital of Culture 2019
For every artist who is inspired by emotion, there is another who favours extensive research. Artist Yuval Avital, guest director of the first edition of the Open Sound Festival, brought to the stage 'URLA!' (YELL!), a parade animated by various musical souls and Lucan folklore, fruit of the artistic residencies that took place between 2018 and 2019 in Basilicata, with advice from native Basilicata ethnomusicologist Prof. Nicola Scaldaferri.
Arbëreshë choirs, bagpipes, cowbells, cupa-cupas, sonorous carnival masks, percussion, a formation of low music and a band performed this unprecedented musical geographical score, first as separate voices, emanating from different points of the historical centre, to then merge into a unique performance under the Cockaigne tree erected for the occasion in Piazza San Pietro Caveoso. An archaic call from the bowels of the Earth.
The procession of Urla by Yuval Avital (2019-09-01) by Monkeys VideoLabMatera European Capital of Culture 2019
Urla Sound Parade (2019-09-01) by Monkeys VideoLabMatera European Capital of Culture 2019
The final act of the Urla procession (2019-09-01) by Monkeys VideoLabMatera European Capital of Culture 2019
Can play be a tool for cultural production? The philosopher Johan Huizinga would probably have answered the question with the following: “You can deny justice, beauty, truth, goodness, mind, God. You can deny seriousness. But not the game". During 2019, there were several occasions when citizens experienced this type of interactive approach with the city. In particular, two different festivals saw the Sassi stone districts of Matera featuring as the star of urban games and LARP (live action role playing), taking advantage of a playful context to tackle issues such as sustainable tourism, the need to create a community identity and the importance of creating honest international relations.
Moments during the Fuion Urban Games (2019-10-31) by Digital LighthouseMatera European Capital of Culture 2019
The participants in the Fusion Urban Games (2019-10-31)Matera European Capital of Culture 2019
On 19 January 2019, the opening ceremony for the European Capital of Culture took place. A party, rather than an event, which embraced the whole city from morning to night, welcomed bands from Basilicata and Europe, attracted the attention of national and international media, greeted institutions and sanctioned the redemption of the city. This unforgettable day was a miniature Big Bang in the local scene: an explosion of energy whose lights will be like stars ready to guide us along the road of tomorrow.
President of the Italian Republic Mattarella during the Opening Ceremony (2019-01-19) by Digital LighthouseMatera European Capital of Culture 2019
Matera "starry sky" during the Open Lights (2019-01-19) by Digital LighthouseMatera European Capital of Culture 2019