“O corvo” premieres in 2021 at the Amazonas Opera Festival

The Amazonas Festival of Opera (FAO) will present in its next edition – to be held in an online version between April 24 and May 9, 2021 – the premiere of the opera O Corvo , written by Paraná composer Eduardo Fabricio Luciuk Frigatti, with libretto based on Machado de Assis’ translation of the homonymous poem by Edgar Allan Poe. “It is the first great piece that I composed after defending my doctorate,” says Frigatti, who this year received a PhD in Composition from the School of Communications and Arts (ECA) at USP, under the guidance of Professor Silvio Ferraz de Mello Filho. “Therefore, much of my research and knowledge that I acquired at USP reverberates in this work.”

Born in Cidade Gaúcha, located in northwest Paraná, Frigatti studied piano and violin with his mother, who ran a small music school in the city of Cianorte, also in Paraná, where he grew up. Although he never abandoned these instruments, it was to the guitar that he dedicated himself as an instrumentalist. Creating has always been present in your life, as you reveal. “My parents report that I always liked to invent, to imagine. The taste for composition came to me with surprising strength in my teens. Small pieces for piano, guitar and violin, songs. I have always been with and pleased my little creations, which I shared with friends. ”

Animation design for the opera “O Corvo”
But it was only after completing two undergraduate courses, in Music Therapy and Music, both at the State University of Paraná (Unesper), that he decided to take his side as a composer. “I had already composed several works and won a prize when I decided to study composition formally with Professor Maurício Dottori”, he informs, adding that Dottori became his advisor in the master’s course, presented at the Federal University of Paraná. “It was through him that I learned about the compositional work and the theoretical work of professor Silvio Ferraz.”

Still during the master’s degree, Frigatti participated in some disciplines taught by Ferraz, which ended up leading him to a doctorate in the Graduate Program in Music at ECA. In this way, from the end of the master’s degree until starting his doctorate, Frigatti still had the opportunity to deepen his studies in composition with professor Rodrigo Lima at the São Paulo State School of Music Tom Jobim (Emesp) and with the composer Krzysztof Penderecki, in Krakow.

“Music has always been part of my life. And creation has always been a necessity, never an option ”, he comments. He still points to the opera as a late wish: “I owe such an ambition to live with my wife, Paulina, who is a lyricist and songwriter. Composing for voice, and consequently for opera, is a domestic demand ”. In addition, he says, the opera has a good reception by the public for combining different arts. “It was a way that I found to reverberate more with the music I compose and, in a way, the theoretical research that I develop.”

The composer Eduardo Frigatti: opera incorporates ideas and knowledge obtained during his doctorate at USP – Photo: Marcos Hermes
First opera
The invitation to write a work for the Amazonas Opera Festival came from the event’s executive director, Flávia Furtado, due to the awards and Frigatti’s performance in the artistic world. “When I presented the proposal for a song about O Corvo, the idea came up to develop the theme in an opera ”, he reports. Although he was already developing two other opera projects, one based on the work of Lima Barreto and the other based on the work of Machado de Assis, this is his first opera. Among the various translations into Portuguese of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, Frigatti chose that of Machado de Assis, because “he recreates Poe’s poem, making it Brazilian, in addition to placing a greater emphasis on narrative”. According to him, this is an important factor for the construction of the opera. “Evidently, it was necessary to adapt the text and, therefore, there are some omissions in excerpts from descriptions of actions or descriptions of the crow, since the music and the theatrical action of the opera represent such parts of the text”, he informs.

Front page of the libretto of the opera “O Corvo”, by Eduardo Frigatti
For Frigatti, the greatest difficulty in medium and long-lasting pieces, such as a symphony or an opera, is its shape. “The way in which music develops and intertwines with textual narrative over time requires a keen imagination of the play’s temporal development. Having this perception of the sensation of time flow is essential for musical architecture. This, in turn, is essential to engage the viewer’s attention throughout the opera. Because it contains the text, this process of temporal construction and understanding of the narrative becomes less difficult than in a purely instrumental work ”, he says.

The opera is in Portuguese and, according to him, this brings another great difficulty: giving speech naturally. He explains that the lyrical singing technique develops from Italian and any application of it in other languages requires certain adjustments, which can sometimes compromise the intelligibility of the text if the melody is not well planned and if the performance is not well fulfilled. “There is a very fine line that separates comprehensibility from incomprehensibility when the text is sung in Portuguese,” he says, adding that it is also difficult not to fall into the stereotypes of operatic singing. “I believe I was able to solve these problems and explore the sound and affective potential of the poem.”

He also reveals why he chose opera in Portuguese: “In addition to being my native language, the number of operas in the language is still lower than the number of operas in other languages, such as Italian and German. Each language has its own sound color and can explore different musical strategies ”.

The libretto
The opera narrative O Corvo explores the loneliness, loss and guilt of a young lover. He is faced with the death of his beloved when he receives a visit from a strange crow. Perhaps awake, perhaps in delirium, the young man begins a dialogue with the crow that absurdly responds to him. According to Frigatti, as in the poem, the plot begins with the young man left to read old classics. And, amidst his mental confusion and his conversation with the crow, fragments of one of these classic texts come to mind. It is about Eneida , in particular, excerpts from the history of Aeneas and Dido. In this story, with a tragic ending, Eneias abandons Dido, leading her to madness and suicide. This passage from Aenidahe recurrently returns to the thoughts of the main character of the opera, when he confronts the crow, reinforcing his sense of guilt amid the loneliness he experiences. Frigatti also says that the excerpts from the piece Eneida are in Latin, to separate the two narrative universes – to organize these fragments, the composer had the help of USP professor Adriano Aprigliano.

The score written in Portuguese will be presented in a version for chamber opera, bringing together 16 instrumentalists and 16 voices on the stage, in addition to a tenor
Although there is also an orchestra version, at the Amazonas Opera Festival the version for chamber opera will be presented, due to the limited number of musicians allowed on stage, due to the covid-19 pandemic. “In addition to the group of 16 instrumentalists, I also used a 16-voice choir (representing the voice of the crow and the voice of the conscience of the main character) and a tenor (soloist) for the main role,” says Frigatti. “Musically, O Corvo explores a wide range of affections, from fond memories to the acute pain of despair, moving from the melodic lyricism of late romanticism and expressionist music to the aggressive sound complexes of contemporary music. Thus, there is a continuous game between the polyphony of melodies and the polyphony of streams”, He reiterates, making reference to ideas analyzed in his doctorate.

Of the three chamber operas presented at the festival, O Corvowill be the only one to win an animation during the event. The film, with the same duration of the opera, of 30 minutes, is directed by the composer, along with Giorgia Massetani, Ana Luisa Anker and Carolina Mestriner. The adaptation is by screenwriter Carolina Mestriner. Animation, according to him, has a strong influence of German expressionist cinema and should explore this dreamlike and psychoanalytical universe, typical of the 1920s. As Frigatti notes, there is a great influence of the expressionist movement in the arias. But, on the other hand, he recalls, the instrumental stretches (prelude and interludes), the recitals and the choirs explore procedures derived from the aesthetics of sound, which runs throughout the 20th century and is very strong in current compositional trends. “This is a concept that I explored in my doctoral thesis and, perhaps because of that,

Doctoral thesis investigates polyphony in contemporary music
In his doctoral thesis Polyphony and Counterpoint: Analysis of the Use of Counterpoint Procedures during the 20th Century for the Creation of New Musical Works , defended this year at USP’s School of Communications and Arts (ECA), Frigatti investigates how contemporary composers use counterpoint technique in his works, developing new polyphonic possibilities. Among other observations, he says, he developed the idea of streams counterpoint and polyphony to refer to some compositional procedures of the 20th century, through which composers overlap and articulate sound streams to build musical texture, and no longer melodic lines. The research resulted in the composition of several works based on this and other concepts and techniques discussed in the thesis.

In total, Frigatti composed 29 works. Of these, 23 have already been premiered in performances at venues such as the Sala São Paulo, the Teatro l’Occitane de Trancoso, in Bahia, and the Concert Hall of the National Radio Polish Orchestra (NOSPR-Katowice). Three works were awarded: Armorial , for violin and harp (third prize in the 8th International Competition for Duets with Harp, Poland, 2019), Moods-Borderline , for solo clarinet (second prize in the national competition for Clarinet Solo, Belém, 2018), and Morriña, for string quartet (awarded in the first composition contest of the Edino Krieger Contemporary Music Festival, in 2017, and in the 50th Campos do Jordão International Festival, in 2019). Another seven pieces were selected for national and international festivals, such as Rose of Hiroshima (International Festival of Composers in Krakow, Poland, in 2017, and Muslab Festival, in Mexico, also in 2017) and Iguaçu , for solo clarinet (Festival Contrasti- Trento, Italy, in 2019), a piece that was recorded by the Para clarinetist Jairo Wilkens on the album Clarinete Solo Brasileiro .

“Everyone likes opera, but doesn’t know”
“They say that everyone likes opera, they just don’t know they like it because they haven’t heard one yet. I am an example that this statement is true. The opera is very captivating, because it involves several languages, facilitating interaction with the audience, even if these languages are very experimental ”, says composer Eduardo Frigatti. As he tells, the opera appeared in Venice, in the 16th century, in a circle of intellectuals and aristocrats, but in a short time it became a very popular attraction. “To have a dimension of the opera’s popularity, Rossini, an Italian composer of the classical period, was as popular as Napoleon Bonaparte”, he compares.

According to Frigatti, Brazil has always consumed a lot of opera, especially from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. “Because of this, there are several theaters in the country prepared to receive opera performances, although few currently have regular seasons. Even though regular seasons are few given the size of the country and the physical and human potential available for the performance of operas, we are witnessing a progressive resumption in the number of opera performances and festivals of the kind in the country ”, he guarantees. And he continues: “The Amazonas Opera Festival is the most important and long-lived in Brazil and one of the most important in Latin America. Although productions have suffered a lot from the crisis resulting from the pandemic, the expectation is that the number of operas presented will grow in the coming years ”. For Frigatti,