Nicola Campogrande (*1969) De bello gallico
Opera [solos,male ch,orch] 2016 Duration: 75' Text: Piero Bodrato
solos: STBbar – male ch: TTBB – orch: fl(picc).ob(eh).clar – hn.trp.tbne – perc(2) – hp – vl.va.vc.db(E-bass)
World premiere: Jesi/Italy, November 24, 2023
Characters: Figura allegorica (S) – Aulo Irzio/Vercingetorige (T) – Cesare (Bbar) – Legionari/Galli (male ch)
De bello gallico is an opera that uses the figure and the feats of Julius Caesar to address the mechanisms of power, self-congratulation, mass seduction and war in a gentle tone. In places, it almost resembles an opera buffa, but there are moving and dramatic moments too.
The libretto is adapted from Commentarii de bello gallico, one of the most famous books of all antiquity, Consul Gaius Julius Caesar’s firsthand account of the long series of campaigns he fought from 58 to 49 BC to conquer Transalpine Gaul. In the aftermath, he became one of the most celebrated, admired and feared men of his time.
Twelve years of war, in fact, not only led to the conquest of a huge territory, rich in resources and men, but also earned the general one honour after another. We might even be tempted to think that Caesar, still a consul, was already planning to use the conquest of Transalpine Gaul as a springboard for achieving even greater power. The fact is that he subsequently found himself projected by his successes towards absolute power and leadership of the ancient world.
De bello gallico is, on the one hand, a celebration of the condottiere’s exploits written in the dry language of a military report and, on the other, a text that established the greatness of the future dictator perpetuus of Rome as one of the most famous historical personages of all time. Alas, it also served as a model for many of the dictators who were later to tread the historical stage.
In the opera, Caesar embodies two figures alternately.
The first manifestation is the Caesar of tradition: the historical personage and the unscrupulous politician who is building an image for himself by telling the story of his deeds. He addresses the audience directly, declaiming from a sort of podium – sometimes akin to the ones used by contemporary politicians – other times like the plinth of a monument from which the character protrudes like a marble bust.
The second figure is Caesar the human being: vain, intelligent, a clever manipulator, ruthless with his enemies (but also with any Romans who are not faithfully on his side), keenly engaged in alliances and intrigues, impassive but neurotic and a victim of splitting headaches. This second Caesar does not use the third person or the past tense, but lives in and relates to a present charged with tension, danger and urgency. When he drops this ‘official’ guise, he leaves the monumental podium to speak and argue directly with the chorus, recounting the events of the wars in the present as if they were happening before his very eyes. Like a flashback in a film that becomes so vivid, it morphs into a kind of hallucination.
Moving around the leading player, the male chorus represent alternately his multitudinous legionaries (epitomized by his beloved Tenth Legion), indefatigable fighters, amazing engineers, highly disciplined, deadly soldiers, and the Gaulish masses who Caesar defeated, humiliated and ultimately wiped out.
On stage with them is a soprano, an allegorical Figure who surprises everyone by representing different characters – from Fortune to Glory to Rome, amongst others – depending on the circumstances.
There is also a tenor. In the first act, he plays Caesar’s scribe, Aulus Hirtius, whose job it is to write up De Bello Gallico. In the second act, instead, he takes the role of Vercingetorix, first an icon of Gaulish resistance, then a slave in chains by Caesar’s tent.
In the epilogue, the general returns to the scene in emperor's robes, but bloodied. Caesar tells of the few years he lived before the conspiracy – ten years lasted the campaigns in Gaul, but only five were enough for Rome to kill him. Now that his destiny had been fulfilled, now that he was an emperor – first honored as a god and then assassinated – in his memory the most poignant period remains the one recounted in De bello gallico: the years of battles in the company of his legions, of peoples known and vanquished, and of summer campaigns during the month that still bears his name – July.
(Nicola Campogrande, 2023)
|01.||Legionari: Grande generalissimo||(First Act, Scene 1)|
|02.||Cesare, Aulo Irzio: Eccomi legionari, eccomi||(First Act, Scene 2)|
|03.||Cesare, Aulo Irzio: Tu invece Irzio resta||(First Act, Scene 3)|
|04.||Cesare: Roma hanno minacciato||(First Act, Scene 4)|
|05.||Legionari: Di strade e di spade, colonne ed arcate||(First Act, Scene 5)|
|06.||Cesare, Aulo Irzio: Hai preso nota Irzio?||(First Act, Scene 6)|
|07.||Figura allegorica, Cesare: Amare un’idea, amare una dea||(First Act, Scene 7)|
|08.||Aulo Irzio: Lo canta la Decima in coro||(First Act, Scene 7)|
|09.||Cesare, Figura allegorica: Sarebbero i miei, diciamo, “soci”||(First Act, Scene 8)|
|10.||Legionari, Cesare, Aulo Irzio: Barbarus iracundus temerarius||(First Act, Scene 9)|
|11.||Legionari, Cesare, Figura allegorica, Aulo Irzio: Chi è? Una schiava elvetica?||(First Act, Scene 10)|
|12.||Cesare: Capisco un comandante refrattario||(First Act, Scene 10)|
|13.||Cesare, Figura allegorica, Legionari: C’è Caio Giulio Cesare, un uomo nato celebre||(First Act, Scene 10)|
|14.||Cesare, Aulo Irzio: Scrivi Aulo, tramanda!||(First Act, Scene 11)|
|15.||Aulo Irzio: Respinti anche i Germani||(First Act, Scene 12)|
|16.||Aulo Irzio: Cesare dorme poco, ha idee meravigliose||(First Act, Scene 12)|
|17.||Legionari, Cesare: Imperatore Unice, grande generalissimo||(First Act, Scene 13)|
|18.||Cesare, Aulo Irzio: A Roma non mi vedono di buon occhio||(First Act, Scene 14)|
|19.||Cesare, Figura allegorica: Scrivi: fine capitolo secondo||(First Act, Scene 15)|
|20.||Galli, Cesare: La mia casa è cenere||(First Act, Scene 16)|
|21.||Cesare, Legionari: Quanti mali alla testa, arrabbiature||(First Act, Scene 17)|
|22.||Vecchi, Cesare: All’armi all’armi||(Second Act, Scene 18)|
|23.||Figura allegorica, Cesare: Cesare, che succede?||(Second Act, Scene 19)|
|24.||Cesare, Legionari, Figura allegorica: Un giro di valzer intorno a una stanza||(Second Act, Scene 20)|
|25.||Cesare: La Gallia… Pacata||(Second Act, Scene 21)|
|26.||Cesare: I Galli son barbari e fieri||(Second Act, Scene 21)|
|27.||Galli: Depredare. Massacrare||(Second Act, Scene 22)|
|28.||Vercingetorige, Galli: Vent’anni!||(Second Act, Scene 23)|
|29.||Figura allegorica, Vercingetorige: Che vedono le pupille?||(Second Act, Scene 24)|
|30.||Legionari: O Cesare, all’armi, adunata!||(Second Act, Scene 25)|
|31.||Cesare, Legionari, Vercingetorige, Figura allegorica: Quel galletto capelluto lo conosco!||(Second Act, Scene 26)|
|32.||Senza designazione||(Second Act, Scene 27)|
|33.||Vercingetorige: Tribù riunite, avanti, su, coraggio||(Second Act, Scene 28)|
|34.||Cesare: È sveglio il Gallo ma io non sono scemo||(Second Act, Scene 29)|
|35.||Vercingetorige: Siate vento, vento e tempesta miei fratelli||(Second Act, Scene 30)|
|36.||Figura allegorica: Quanto è bello il mio eroe!||(Second Act, Scene 31)|
|37.||Cesare: Che diamine, quell’empio fa da esempio!||(Second Act, Scene 32)|
|38.||Vercingetorige: Noi siamo come il vento, lui è roccia||(Second Act, Scene 33)|
|39.||Cesare: Noi siamo roccia, ma lui come il vent||(Second Act, Scene 34)|
|40.||Senza designazione||(Second Act, Scene 35)|
|41.||Cesare: Non ci credo||(Second Act, Scene 36)|
|42.||Cesare: Raduna Giulio Cesare consiglio||(Second Act, Scene 37)|
|43.||Cesare: Ipsum erat oppidum||(Second Act, Scene 38)|
|44.||Vercingetorige, Cesare: Andate cavalieri, chiamate le nazioni!||(Second Act, Scene 39)|
|45.||Figura allegorica, Vercingetorige, Cesare, Legionari: Ora il verdetto, al Romano o al Gallo tocca||(Second Act, Scene 40)|
|46.||Vercingetorige, Cesare, Figura allegorica: Quoniam sit fortunae cedendum||(Second Act, Scene 41)|
|47.||Vercingetorige: Ancora per sei anni, incatenato||(Second Act, Scene 42)|
|48.||Legionari: Datemi una Esse, datemi un Pi||(Second Act, Scene 43)|
|49.||Cesare, Legionari: Sono commosso e prendo questo come un consiglio||(Second Act, Scene 44)|
|50.||Cesare, Legionari: Come spiegarlo al coro?||(Second Act, Scene 45)|
|51.||Cesare: Chissà Bruto e gli amici miei fraterni||(Second Act, Scene 46)|
|52.||Cesare: Dieci anni era durato il bellum||(Second Act, Scene 47)|
|53.||Cesare: E ora, a ripensarci||(Second Act, Scene 48)|