This is how The New York Times introduced Delbono to its readership in an interview last year:
Part theater, part dance, part carnival, part music, the works of Pippo Delbono are hard to categorize; they leave viewers alternately elated, drained, shocked and thoughtful.
His company, with which he has performed all his works since the 1980s, is also hard to categorize. It includes Bobò, 73, whom Mr. Delbono met at a mental asylum in 1996. Bobò was born deaf and with microcephaly and had been institutionalized for 45 years. Gianluca Ballaré a former pupil of Mr. Delbono's mother, has Down's Syndrome. Nelson Lariccia, emaciated, was for many years homeless. Mr. Delbono refers to the company as “family.”
Delbono has had a cult following for years, though since two years ago when he won the prestigious European Prize for New Theatre – whose previous recipients have included Peter Brook – his fan base has been growing rapidly.
His latest work is “Dopo la battaglia” (“After the Battle”) which comes to Milan's Piccolo Teatro for a week from Tuesday. It swings from Whitman to Pasolini, from the notes of Verdi to the melodies from the violin of Alexander Balanescu. Above all it is presented as a homage to Delbono's great inspiration, with whom he also collaborated, Pina Bausch. It also boasts the rather extraordinary collaboration of Paris Opéra étoile Marie-Agnès Gillot, seen here with Bobò.
Delbono says of “Dopo la battaglia”:
For this show I thought of an empty place, like those empty rooms which are memorials of past horrors, still bearing the strong marks, colours, and smells of prison. But I was also thinking of the rooms of the mind, emptied after the cries of passion, love, anger, and pain. A need of lucidity after the madness.
Information and bookings 848800304 – www.piccoloteatro.org
Photo: Lorenzo Porrazzini
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.