Article by Hai Ly Nguyen
Art in general and music in particular has been established and nurtured along with the development of mankind’s history for thousands of years. It is indisputably an indispensable element in the daily life of human beings. Like what Friedrich Nietzsche – a German philosopher and composer once said “Without music, life would be a mistake”. Just imagine one day in your life, you cannot see people with bright smiles wearing headphones to listen to music, sometimes lip-syncing and swinging the body along the song on the streets or public transportations. Or what you can only hear in public areas such as shopping malls and restaurants is just the deafening noise from some groups of people talking too loud or non-stop honks from some impolite car drivers. Without the healing from music, how miserable your life will be.
Compagnia Teatrale L’Albero
With the undeniable importance of art, we nowadays can easily find it in every aspect of life, from entertainment, education to medical treatment. Take Compagnia Teatrale L’Albero as an example of a theater and opera companies which are trying to promote art to be accessible to everyone. L’Albero is based in the South of Italy, and it uses theatrical language as a privileged tool for crossing knowledge, places and stories which then flows into a single center: that of the cultural and social context in which it is tangled. Having been run for 15 years by Vania Cauzillo as the Co-founder and Co-artistic director, with the tremendous support from her colleagues, L’Albero is operated as a continuous exchange and dialogue with the local communities, including the the artist, the scientist, the elderly, the boy, the disabled or the child who are all the real lifeblood of the creative process.
Who is Vania Cauzillo?
Having a strong belief in art as a social act, Vania Cauzillo has been dedicated many years to create social development which involves artistic actions such as music in theater, opera and documentary storytelling as tools and languages to communicate and create relational experience for members in the communities. Besides being the co-founder and co-artistic director of Compagnia Teatrale L’Albero, she is currently also the artistic director of Liberascienza e Festival di divulgazione – an association and a festival dedicated to research as well as the director and researcher of Community Opera – a format based on co-creation with communities for the promotion of the language of opera.
In 2019, at the conclusion of her unrivaled experience as the director for the successful project Silent City Opera for Matera European Capital of Culture 2019, Cauzillo was nominated to be on the board of the RESEO – European Network for Opera and Dance Education (RESEO). She is also a member of the jury of the FEDORA Digital Prize 2021 which encourages artistic innovation in opera and ballet through digital experimentation, as well as the coordinator of Prime Minister Basilicata – a school of politics for young women.
Silent City Project
Successfully running the project Silent City Opera can be considered one of the highlights throughout the career path of Cauzillo. This project co-produced by the Matera – Basilicata 2019 Foundation and the L’Albero Theatre Company in which Cauzillo is working as the co-founder, with the collaboration with Open Design School. Silent City is a format for creating an opera, an audience development process, and an artistic survey of the city and its communities.
“Silent city” is a temporal game in which two generations are told, that of yesterday and that of today. It is the story of three boys, and on a school day they flee to the lowest and oldest part of their city in which there are only the centuries-old rocks and utter quietness. They accidentally meet a boy who cannot speak, so these three boys call him the boy of silence. This child leads them inside a memory of the subsoil: the history of the forgotten city – Città dei Sassi, along with a story about the process of its discovery.
This project is an original community opera which is created at all stages by young people, the elderly, children residing in Basilicata and Matera city in particular, along with national and international artists. The performance was mainly led by composer Nigel Osborne – a British composer, teacher and aid worker. For further reference, find the video uploaded by L’ Albero on Youtube here and list of 15 audios here.
Besides creating an incredible opera performance, what should be highlighted the most is that the project could get various groups actively involved, from children to old people. These people can have innate talents for opera or not; however, what really matters here is that they were brave enough to break their own limitations to try new things. It is performing opera in particular and art in general. This project surely is a divine source of inspiration to encourage people to take in art activities because they are for everyone. With the inspiration of this meaningful project, in 2021 they started another project Carmen and the other extraordinary girls which aims at working with 50 professionals and disabled opera artists from Southern Italy, focusing on migrant women, to write and design together dramaturgy, music, costumes and sets.
With the positive impacts from what Cauzillo and her colleagues have been offering to the local communities, it is expected that there will be more projects to promote social art to ordinary people in the future.