Support to the Associazione Musicale Vittorio Gnecchi Ruscone

Project location: ITALY, Milano
Project start date: November 2010 - Project end date: December 2012
Project number: 2010-50
Beneficiary: Associazione Musicale Vittorio Gnecchi

 May 2011 report

The Associazione Musicale Vittorio Gnecchi Ruscone was created at the end of the 1990's to recover and promote the music of one of the masters of early Twenty Century music whose works had been lost and forgotten for almost Fifty years.
In 2010 the association published the second edition of the book Il caso Cassandra by Marco Iannelli with new important documents just recently recovered. The book is the only comprehensive study of the story of the Cassandra, one of the main operas by Vittorio Gnecchi that strongly determined all his musical fortunes. La Cassandra was performed the first time in 1905 under the direction of Arturo Toscanini. But, in 1909, when Elektra by Richard Strauss appeared and was performed in Dresda some critics observed similarities in a few passages ot the two operas. On these similarities a huge case was created by journalists and partisans of both parties. The result was that Vittorio Gnecchi found great difficulties in performing his music in many theatres. Very few dared oppose the very popular Strauss.
This second edition of the books for the first time publishes extracts of the diary of Vittorio Gnecchi. In these pages the young musician, at the time Twentynine years old, describes in a very moving way his relationship with Arturo Toscanini, the problems that aroused during the preparation of the Cassandra and the changes that were introduced on the suggestion of Toscanini.
The book represents the first step of a more comprehensive study of all the other works by Vittorio Gnecchi that still has to be done.

Besides collecting all documents related to Vittorio Gnecchi, the association is active promoting the performance of his music. A lot of its activity and in particular of Nikos Velissiotis, the artistic director, and the composer Marco Iannelli, is contacting theates in Italy and in the world. In January 2011 the Teatro Massimo Bellini of Catania, Italy, opened its opera season with Cassandra by Vittorio Gnecchi Ruscone. This is the first performance in modern days of this work in its integrity. The previous performances where either in form of concert without costumes and scenes as in Montpellier or in a reduced version together with Strauss Elektra as at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. The Catania performance has had several very successful replicas on the 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th of January 2011. All replicas were extremely well received by the public and very well reviewed by the press, both local that national, and the television.
For the Teatro Bellini performance the association provided all musical scores that had been revised by Marco Iannelli. It also contributed to the publication of a booklet that was distributed in the theatre on this occasion by providing several essays by, among others, musical critic Quirino Principe, the composer Marco Iannelli, Nikolaus Velissiotis and Francesco Gnecchi Ruscone.
Nikos Velissiotis also created for the theatre an exhibition with the reproduction of several documents and images related to Vittorio Gnecchi and the Cassandra. The composer was a protagonist of the early Nineteen Century European cultural life and the exibition documents both the Cassandra performances with posters, letters, misic scores and documents as his relationship with major intellectuals of the period such as the poet Gabriele d'Annunzio, Guido Visconti di Modorne, father of the Luchino the film maker, Giulio Ricordi, Luigi Illica and Arturo Toscanini.
The images were selected from the Associations archives, reproduced in a big format and mounted in plexiglass frames mostly cm 50 x 70. This has produced a travelling exhibition that remains the property of the association and is available for future uses.

But the work of the association is not only limited to the single opera of la Cassandra. Alongside with the religious music the Missa Salisburgensis, Cassandra has been the first work to be recoverd and performend in modern times. The opera was chosen to open the Festival of Montpellier and Radio France in the year 2000 revealing its exceptional artistic value. In 2007 it was performed together with Strauss's Elektra on the opening night of the Deautsche Oper Berlin and it has since been rescheduled in Berlin with a different director and cast in the following years.
All the other musical works by Vittorio Gnecchi need now to by recovered, studied and made available to the public. Our first commitment will be with Judith (1914-1952) and La Rosiera (1909) two operas that have been already requested by a few theatres in Italy and abroad. A prologue to La Rosiera has been in fact recently discovered. It gives the opera a completely unknown and significant addition.
Other works by Vittorio Gnecchi include a ballet Atalanta (1929), the compositions for orchestra Epinicio (1910) and Poema eroico. Notte nel campo di Oloferne (1932), religius music as Cantata Biblica (1934), and several orchestra compositions for chamber music.
The recovery of all the music by Vittorio Gnecchi Ruscone is the task that the association has for the next few years. Some of the scores need to be studied and corrected, unifying its different versions, and all need to be digitalized. The success ot the recent performances in Italy and in Europe have created a great interest from several theatres in the world and its our intent to encourage the performance of the known musics and to bring back to life the ones that have not been heard for several decades. In the words of the composer "For music, the performance is life. An opera does not have the perennial breath of a painting: hidden it is dust".


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