Dec 272012

Sil­vano Bus­sotti, known as Sylvano, is an Italian eccent­ric, some say genius, and the word ‘flam­boy­ant’ appears in many art­icles about this mod­ern Renais­sance man. He is a com­poser, poet, set and cos­tume designer, painter, journ­al­ist, actor, singer, theatre and film dir­ector and some­time bad boy of the arts. Inter­na­tion­ally he is more known as a com­poser, and the Oxford Grove Music Encyc­lo­pae­dia describes his music thus:

His music at once exults in and cri­ti­cizes the dec­ad­ence of mod­ern­ism: his nota­tion is often flam­boy­antly vir­tu­oso in its graphic style and fiercely demand­ing to per­form; his works tend to abound in cross-references, to each other and to his per­sonal life, which would seem col­our­ful; he mixes a sen­su­ous­ness amount­ing to erot­i­cism with an extreme artificiality.

Bussotti - Amici della ScalaHow­ever it is Sylvano Bussotti’s theatre work (as a 3-in-1 pack­age: dir­ector, set and cos­tume designer) that con­cerns Vit­toria Crespi Mor­bio’s new mono­graph for the .

Sylvano Bus­sotti was born 1 Octo­ber 1931 in , and as a child became a prodigy on the violin. He went on to study at the city’s Con­ser­vat­ory from 1941 to 1948. At the same time he stud­ied paint­ing and applied the prin­ciples of aleat­ory (or “chance”) music, cham­pioned by and oth­ers, to the page he designed on as well as that he com­posed on.

His music and paint­ing are inter­twined: as he needed a freer way to express his musical ideas on the stave he devised his own nota­tion — often without clefs or notes or any­thing that resembles con­ven­tional music — and the res­ult can look more like a graphic design than a com­pos­i­tion. The Gale Encyc­lo­pe­dia of Bio­graphy says,

In his Five Pieces for David Tudor (1959) the score looks like Rorschach ink-blots; the per­former is asked to approx­im­ate the shapes in sound. Nat­ur­ally, no two per­form­ances, even by the same pian­ist, will ever be the same. In these pieces Bus­sotti extends nor­mal piano tech­nique in requir­ing that the fin­ger­nails be rattled against the keys and that the strings be plucked, hit by table-tennis balls, and rubbed.

Oggetto amato di Bussotti,1976

Oggetto amato — Bussotti,1976

Except for music, Bus­sotti was self-taught, hav­ing left school when he was 9-years-old:

At 13 I was read­ing Rim­baud and Verlaine.

His uncle Tono Zan­ca­naro and his older brother, the painter Renzo Bus­sotti strongly influ­enced his style in paint­ing, and being that his father worked at the Florence Town Hall he was able to visit the Uffizzi Gal­ler­ies whenever he liked.

This free­dom of study maybe forged his free­dom as an artist and Bus­sotti was attrac­ted by the theatre of the absurd where the tra­di­tional sense of plot and char­ac­ter­iz­a­tion are aban­doned. His bold­ness and cour­age in his approach led him to express his in his music as early as 1958, and he was openly in an age where this was not only rare, but also dan­ger­ous. His part­ner in life, Rocco Quaglia, was also his muse, dan­cer and cho­reo­grapher for many projects.

Teatro alla Scala staged his operas Not­tetempo in 1976 and Le Racine in 1980, for which he also dir­ec­ted and designed the sets and cos­tumes. His bal­let Ripet­ente was presen­ted in 1975, Oggetto Amato in 1976, and Cristallo di Rocca in 1983, where once again he also dir­ec­ted and designed.

Bus­sotti dir­ec­ted Mussorgsky’s opera The Fair at Sor­ochyntsi for in 1981, and the 1983 pro­duc­tion of ’s Il Trit­tico, which was tele­vised, for which he also designed the one-act Gianni Schic­chi.

Nottetempo di Bussotti,1976,

Not­tetempo — Bussotti,1976

Amici della Scala, via dei Giardini 18, 20121
tel 02 783  479 – fax 02 7601  3856


Bus­sotti Opera Ballet


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