Le Glorie del Niente (Venice 1644):
Performance and Scholarship between Voicing and Trusting
Le Glorie del Niente is an artistic research project aiming to investigate the act of moving between a variety of scholarly and performance stages within the continuum Vocalizing ≈ Articulating ≈ Mattering ≈ Trust. This issue goes beyond vocal performance of a certain repertoire of Western classical music on which I primarily focus—that of seventeenth-century vocal music. As human beings and members of a global society, we are constantly facing how we go about facing this voice/trust challenge. The project therefore proposes an investigation into how voices and vocality can contribute to society as bridge-builders for the purpose of a greater sense of trust between humans and non-humans. The specific question I confront, which also allow me to generalize from it, is “How to perform trust as an enactment between a vocal performer on stage and her/his audience?” The project is framed by artistic/practice-led performance research and new materialistic theories in the now growing areas of performance philosophy, including concepts such as agential realism, intra-action, and diffractive analysis. My research, in sum, is about exploring, practically the relationship between artistic products/events—originating specifically in a Venetian Baroque context—and more general societal issues today, issues which, traditionally, the area of performance studies has brought to the attention of scholars and society, starting from Richard Schechner’s practice and research in the New York of the 1970s. The recent development of the area of studies of “artistic research” in Europe, of which I have been one of the pioneers, addresses precisely these broad concerns.
My aim during the period at the Italian Academy is to carry out a diffractive/artistic analysis of the Venetian volume “Le Glorie della Signora Anna Renzi romana” (Strozzi 1644). This book contains a collection of poems celebrating one of the most successful singers in early Venetian opera. In investigating under a new light this collection of poems, my task is to imagine the minds of the poets through their narrations and experiences of Renzi’s vocality and performances, and then to performance and formulate a model for how to create a vocal force of trust significant to a performance situation. So, what I mean with “diffractive” is this constant displacement among agents (both back then and today): the poets and the singer in their poems, myself and the audience today, myself and the seventeenth-century poets, etc. etc. This shifting within a constellation of agents presupposes a trust—an implicit contract—among these agents, both in our historically relationship with the past and/or in the acts of scholarship and performance today.
The diffractive/artistic analysis will be conducted through a co-reading of selected poems and a series of experimental artistic vocal workshops with music from the seventeenth-century manuscript “Cantates et airs italiens sans accompt. de différents auteurs” (Rés. Vm7. 59-101, Bibl. Nat. Paris). This project is a continuation and development of my doctoral research carried out at the Academy of Music and Drama, Univ. of Gothenburg between 2006 and 2011. The overall purpose of the project, beyond and through scholarship, is to contribute to society with a performative model for inspiring and challenging a discourse on how to obtain trust between humans and non-humans in a world having to deal with issues such as global performance of inhumanity, distrust between cultures, and loss of respect for memories of the past. Even if this might be judged idealistic, I believe it is an important effort that performance allows in unique ways if married with scholarship, as in artistic research.
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