Inhabiting the Opera: rediscovering being citizens through participation
The story told by the citizens who took part in the staging of the prologue to Cavalleria Rusticana, directed by Giorgio Barberio Corsetti, was a reappropriation, and in some ways a reconciliation. The travelling performance at the Sassi, a modern version of the Seven Deadly Sins viewed from a "Capitalist" standpoint was an integral part of the "Inhabiting the Opera" project, accompanying audiences towards Pietro Mascagni's work, which was performed in Piazza San Pietro Caveoso by the Orchestra of the San Carlo Theatre of Naples.
It was a unique experiment uniting people from very different contexts who came together to form a company that enlivened the ancient streets, which were not just a splendid backdrop but an essential component of the performance. Citizens and professional artists joined together to bring one of the most important productions of the year as European Capital of Culture to life.
Reappropriation was achieved in part through the Sassi. The citizens who made up the chorus that backed up the scenes acted by the artists sang traditional songs from the city and the entire region. On one condition, however, that was very clear from the outset: the choir’s purpose was not to search for a pure dialect that is sometimes claimed to be the mother tongue, only to be humiliated through usages that only seek self-satisfaction. The raison d'être of popular songs was to communicate a universal message that transcended a kind of localism of identity. Singing these songs today in the same streets where they had resounded thousands of times with a different sort of awareness was the challenge faced by the citizens who took part in Inhabiting the Opera, a challenge they can be said to have met.
The same can also be said of the artists – some of whom were originally from Matera – who told of a kind of reconciliation. It is a phenomenon that enables you to make peace with yourself and your land after you have left it and only return to it and take it in hand when you are an adult.
It is in this sequence of intimate, profound feelings that inspired those who took part in this unique experience that the unusual strength of Inhabiting the Opera can be found.