Sunday, 15. March 2015, 23:03 - 23:59, Ö1



Cathedral’s Fall War Opera

by Arsenije Jovanovic

sound PLAY

It's not an artistic rendition about military conflicts among warring states and peoples,  but about the effects of war in the mind of children and in the mind of adults  fortunate enough to have preserved the soul of a child. What  animals feel or thinks is a mystery to us.  However, while I was sailing once, on the high seas, during the Balkan wars, a bird landed on my boat, as if seeking refuge from the grenade explosions in the Bosnian forests.  We both recognized the fear in our eyes.  It is likely our silent dialogue was what inspired The Cathedral’s Fall. Not long after that, in the city of Chioggia in Laguna Venezia, in a small  thrift shop owned by collector Gianni Rugine, I found a framed children's letter, written at the time the Allies were advancing along the Apennine peninsula,  to the north, and after fierce fighting had taken Florence. The children's letter can be read on both sides. The other side not visible, it had to be turned to see the page on which the letter continues. This, at a time, in the arts,  when such interactive communication with an objet trouvé  would not have been the subject of the same popular attention as today. In that letter, on the eve of Christmas 1944, children addressed absent grandfathers who, I guess, were  somewhere on the front lines, in captivity,  or perhaps already six feet under. Donald Duck, Pluto, and Mickey Mouse form part of the letterhead. For over two decades now I've considered it one of my family's most precious belongings.  If I were asked to choose the one single thing symbolizing the horrors of the war, I would point to this framed children's letter from Chioggia written on Christmas in 1944. This letter represents the many layers of the human tragedies generated by wars .Librettos of musical works, and art in general, very often just retell history superficially and in a literal manner. Mine, to the contrary,  are so to say,  anti-librettistic.  The approach to understanding my music, my radiophonic and acoustic creations is indirect. If there is a path there at all, it’s not for me to tell. I believe that a libretto is not written for smart people but for those either lacking imagination or possessing a very lazy one.

(translated by Isabel Bau Madden)