Danilo Comitini: The Selfish Giant (Oscar Wilde), The Black Cat (Edgar Allan Poe), 2 Melologues


  • Artist(s): Ensemble Tempo Primo, Jacopo Rivani, Teresa Maria Federici
  • Composer(s): Danilo Comitini
  • EAN Code: 7.46160915098
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Ensemble, Narrator
  • Period: Contemporary
  • Publication year: 2022
SKU: C00673 Category:

Additional information


, ,


EAN Code







Publication year


In the eighteenth century, the solo voice became the epicenter of a genre of composition that was the result of the Enlightenment’s desire to encyclopedically synthesize several arts into a single work. That form, the melologue, established itself mainly in France as a genre of spoken word theater and in fact involves acting with musical accompaniment, without the slightest intonation of the voice. The cantata Ariadne auf Naxos is considered one of the earliest and most significant examples of the new genre. Among the most important melologues, we cannot fail to mention the Pygmalion – considered the first melologue in history – composed in 1762 by Horace Coignet and Jean Jacques Rousseau (who wrote not only the libretto but also part of the music). Czech composer Georg Benda was an unsurpassed master in the genre, profoundly influencing the young Mozart. Melologue composition of an entire drama, however, initially remained the preserve of Bohemian musicians. In Italy and Germany the genre never rose to the development of an entire opera but remained confined to individual episodes within musical works, dramas or non-theatrical compositions. Beethoven, for example, makes use of it in Fidelio, in the scene in which the protagonist, disguised as a man, visits the prison in which her groom is imprisoned. Equally famous are Weber’s uses in Freischütz and Mendelssohn’s in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Robert Schumann’s Manfred – a preclear example of Literaturoper – based on George Byron’s opera of the same name, totally sets aside operatic-style solo singing, making mainly use of monologues by the protagonist and emphasizing through music only the climaxes. Ballads for declamation with instrumental accompaniment – such as Schubert’s Abschied von der Erde, Schön Hedwig, Schumann’s Vom Heidenknaben and Fugitives, Hiller’s Vom Pagen und der Königstöchter, Liszt’s Lenore and Träuriger Mönch, and Strauss’s Enoch Arden – also approach this type of form. The tendency toward the melologue influences all opera practice, one need only think of the Prologue of Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo, which is represented entirely by Tonio’s monologue after an instrumental introduction. In this case, the character’s intervention – and consequently the monologue – serves as the author’s programmatic manifesto, which enunciates the informing principles and poetics of the opera. In modern times the melologue takes on the connotations of an independent form. Let us consider, for example, the protagonist’s monologue in Richard Strauss’s Elektra (“Allein, weh, ganz allein,” “Alone, alas, all alone”). It serves narratively to reenact the murder of her father Agamemnon but it is also the first manifestation of the horrific chord on which the entire tragedy will be tuned, with the iteration of the word Blut (blood) dominating the entire narrative, along with other emblematic terms. Remaining in the sphere of the same composer, let us also recall the third part of the opera Salome. It describes the confrontation between two characters: the protagonist and the totally silent interlocutor of the beheaded head of the Baptist. The confrontation obviously resolves itself into a long monologue, one of the longest in the history of opera, in which Salome continually addresses Jochanaan, questioning him, continually repeating his name and soliciting a response, until she finally closes his mouth with the desired kiss. Herod and Herodias watch from the sidelines, finally resulting in the killing of Salome, perpetrated in an explosion of wind instruments and percussions. In contemporary times the melologue takes on entirely different connotations. Salvatore Sciarrino’s Morte di Borromini, for orchestra with reader, collects the last accounts of Baroque architect Francesco Borromini. The latter died by suicide, piercing himself with a sword, following a fit of rage dictated by his servant’s refusal to light a lamp to allow him to write his will. The writing strikes the composer for its lucidity and sense of the man’s tragedy, often ignored by his next of kin. In this work, the music neither pretends nor sets out to describe, merely surrounding what is, after all, the reading of a document. It seems clear that over the centuries individual expression has found multiple outlets in musical expression, resulting in an ever-increasing distance between the speaking subject and the music, which ends up being reduced to a mere accompanying gesture, totally independent of the text and determining an estrangement common in every genre of contemporary art form. The melologue is the genre chosen by Danilo Comitini to address the genre of the short story. The Black Cat and The Selfish Giant are works both belonging to English and nineteenth-century literary production. The Black Cat is among the most famous tales of Edgar Allan Poe’s production, moreover the subject of boundless horror film literature, ranging from 1920, with the film of the same name directed by Charles Kraus, to 2007 with that directed by Stuart Gordon. Where The Black Cat gradually leads the protagonist – and the story itself – toward the deepest abysses, in The Selfish Giant Oscar Wilde – in the completely opposite direction – gradually leads the protagonist in the direction of redemption and forgiveness. “I think the text-music combination has always been extremely effective,” the composer explains, “the melologue gives the music that second face that makes its features more visible and expressive, and thus makes it more penetrating, easier to enjoy.” The Selfish Giant follows a different compositional mode than The Black Cat: “the events of the story shape the music by means of the emotions that accompanied the reading and genesis of the work. It is as if the music were a set – extremely and continuously changing – but still serving as a background function. The “soundscape” – as the composer calls it – always stands at some distance from the characters who metaphorically enter the scene and does not interact with the narrated events. “One could say that the music reacts but does not interact with the words. Just as in the story the narrator is external, not interacting with the story, in the same way I did not want the music and the reader to come into too much contact. It is as if the music here takes the place of the illustrations in a book, emphasizing or explaining the meaning of the words.” This is exactly the opposite of what happens in The Black Cat, where it can be said that the music does not interact with the words but forms a single body with them. It is often the music alone that speaks and acts, almost taking the place of the narrator, who in fact corresponds here to the protagonist of the story. The sounds are no longer mere scenography, but embodiment of the story itself. “In general I have tried to exploit as much as possible the double possibility, which the melologue offers, of leaving either the words or the music alone from time to time, with all possible gradations and nuances.” There are varying degrees of overlap between music and text, as well as waiting times and breaths between the end of the music and the beginning of the recitation and vice versa, where in The Selfish Giant music and voice overlap only in a few moments. Characteristic then is the use of melody in a tonal sense, employed not nostalgically, as we often tend to think today. In The Black Cat, for example, we witness the obsessive repetition of certain pitches from the beginning to the end of the piece, which thus appear “recognizable,” embodying the feelings, fears and obsessions of the protagonist of the story, whose horrible collapse leads to the inevitable destruction of any melodic sequence, tearing apart harmonies and leaving room – as had occurred in Strauss’s Salome – for harsh timbres, especially of percussion instruments.
Costanza Tuzzi © 2022


Ensemble Tempo Primo (LaCorelli) was officially established as a Cooperative Society in December 2014, thus closing the five fundamental years of the Association's experience to be reborn in a new, open, participatory and efficient form. From a shared dream of a few artists, an organized professional reality is thus born, which also preserves the original spirit of enterprise and innovation. The Cooperative honors and enhances its connection with the territory to which it belongs while promoting the quality and artistic contribution of its members beyond regional borders. It is the passion for music which has always driven LaCorelli to seek constant improvement and refinement, in order to create a dynamic, meritocratic and professional environment where young talents have the opportunity to grow and fulfill themselves through the planned artistic activity. The highest artistic expression of LaCorelli is the Arcangelo Corelli Orchestra, which, more than ten years after its inception, ranges from symphonic to operatic repertoire, from musical theater to experimental performances, continuously proving its creativity, quality and versatility. The orchestra takes part in ever-new original productions designed for the most diverse audiences and confronting itself in the great art repertoire on important stages. Next to the adult audience, a special space is reserved for young people, with productions dedicated to the world of School and education. Over the years Corelli has consolidated collaboration with various concert institutions and theaters including "Ravenna Festival," Macerata Opera Festival, Mittelfest, "Angelo Mariani" Association, "La piccola stagione" in Milan, "ERT - Emilia Romagna Teatro" As.Li.Co., Teatro Alighieri (Ravenna), Teatro Comunale (Ferrara), Teatro Regio (Parma), Teatro Rossini (Pesaro), Teatro Duse and Auditorium Manzoni (Bologna), Teatro Verdi (Pisa), Teatro Marruccino (Chieti), Teatro del Giglio (Lucca) and many others, in addition to stable collaborations with municipalities in the province of Ravenna. There are dozens of young artists that LaCorelli has introduced to the general public, and many of them today are in the midst of brilliant careers; in addition to them, the Arcangelo Corelli Orchestra boasts collaborations with such renowned artists as Bruno Canino, Timothy Brock, Fabrizio Meloni, Marco Pierobon, Fabio de Luigi, Neri Marcoré and Goran Bregovic. The present compact disc is the result of a constant and successful collaboration between LaCorelli and Danilo Comitini who, as Composer in Residence, has received numerous commissions many of them aimed at the composition of theatrical works including the melologues recorded here. In fact, it is precisely from The Black Cat that the collaboration begins, which finds particular understanding in the genre of the melologue, the interpretation of which is here entrusted to Ensemble Tempo Primo, an extremely versatile group that is also active in the performance of today's music and boasts varied and innovative collaborations with various composers of our days.

Jacopo Rivani: Born in Ravenna (Italy), and graduated with honours in Conducting at the G. Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro under the guidance of M° Manlio Benzi. He then pursued his studies with M° Piero Bellugi and had the privilege to be M° Alberto Zedda's assistant in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" on the occasion of its bicentenary. In spite of his young age, Jacopo Rivani made his debut in many important operas, among them: Traviata, Rigoletto, Nabucco, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Don Pasquale, Elisir d’Amore, Cavalleria Rusticana, Carmina Burana, Madama Butterfly, La Cambiale di Matrimonio, Cenerentola. He also conducted some major symphonic masterpieces: Beethoven's 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 symphonies, Tchaikovsky's 4th symphony, Mahler's 4th symphony and Mozart's Requiem. Jacopo Rivani conducted 2 world premiéres: “Milo, Maja e il giro del mondo” by M. Franceschini (2015) and “Ettore Majorana - cronaca di infinite scomparse” by R. Vetrano (2017), both receiving great critical success. M° Rivani took part in important Music Festivals such as “Ravenna Festival”, “Festival Como città della musica”, "Emilia Romagna Festival" and he performed in “I Concerti del Sabato”, “Concerto di Santa Cecilia” (Auditorium “Pedrotti", Pesaro) and the “European Opera Days”. He performed in some of the most important Italian theatres such as Arcimboldi (Milan), Sociale (Como), A.Manzoni (Bologna), Pavarotti (Modena), Alighieri (Ravenna), Teatro Olimpico (Rome), Politeama (Naples), A.Bonci (Cesena), Rossini (Pesaro).
He conducted many Italian orchestras: Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Comunale di Sassari, Haydn Orchester (Trento-Bolzano), Orchestra Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini (Parma), Orchestra Regionale dell'Emilia Romagna, I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano, Orchestra Sinfonica del Teatro Rendano (Cosenza), FORM – Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana, SineForma ensemble, Italian Chamber Opera Ensemble, Orchestra Sinfonica della Repubblica di San Marino, Teramo Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra 1813 (Como), Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana. He is also the musical and artistic director of Ensemble Tempo Primo and Orchestra Arcangelo Corelli (Ravenna).

Teresa Maria Federici, born in 1989, graduated with a diploma in piano in 2010 and in 2013 she obtained a Master's Degree in Italian Studies, European Literary Cultures and Linguistic Sciences from the University of Bologna with highest honors. She is currently a teacher of Humanities in secondary school. Since 2011, she has been actively collaborating with the Salaborsa Ragazzi Library in Bologna through the "Nati per Leggere" and "Nati per la Musica" projects, passionately working on the promotion of reading aloud and music for preschoolers. From 2014 to 2017 she is librarian at the Malatestiana Ragazzi Library in Cesena. She alternates her teaching activity as a teacher of Humanities and Latin at the Torricelli-Ballardini High School in Faenza with that of teaching the CML method for the teaching of musical propaedeutics. She has been actively collaborating since 2018 as a writer and storyteller for LaCorelli, producing and interpreting the texts for the melologues "The Nutcracker", "The Black Cat", "The Selfish Giant", "The Sword in the Rock", "The Art of Telling Stories" and "Beethoven!".


Danilo Comitini: He was born in the United Kingdom in 1986. He has studied in Italy with Alessandro Solbiati (Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory, Milan) and Ivan Fedele (Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome). His opera The spectacles, based on a novel by E. A. Poe, was staged at the Teatro Rossini of Pesaro in 2017.
He is winner of numerous international competitions and, as a result, he has performed in music Seasons, contemporary and non, both in Italy and abroad. In his own music, he searches for a message beyond sound. His compositions are polyhedral works which seek a perceptive interest in sound, gesture, form and
in a narrative aspect that gives music a means to describe an inner transformation. Beethoven himself, starting from the Fifth (but maybe even before), gives life to a concept of music loaded with a meaning "beyond" itself and carries a message. For Comitini, this is perhaps the most stimulating aspect of the narrative side of music, which is not necessarily telling a story or referring to something extra-musical. That is the most belittling aspect of music because it gives a value wich is not absolute. It is by "entrusting" music with a message and by letting it carry us from one vision (about the world and life) to another, as extremes of a dramaturgical vector, that music can achieve its best results. Thus, each piece is a new journey full of discoveries. According to the composer, this is one of the possible ways to write (but also to listen to) music. Especially in the artistic field, history has taught us that it is not the choice of one ideology or another, or this or that style, that can lead us to beauty. Even the most different ideologies are different ways of telling more or less the same concepts and the same emotions inherent in humankind. Comitini is not often interested in a kind of art that avoids expressing the human being, who is life: birth, growth and change, death. A path forward, therefore, which for the composer's way of "feeling" can be deeply expressed by the dramaturgical force of music, a direction in which the audience can also recognize and orient themselves.