Luca Micheletti: Theatre has no rules, it creates new rules for new worlds.

Luca Micheletti was “born to art” and the fourth-generation heir to the Micheletti-Zampieri theatre legacy that has its roots in the “Carri di Tespi” Wondering Theatre of the mid XIX century. Micheletti started his acting training at a very early age with “I Guitti” Theatre Company, for which he has eventually become principal director.

At the age of  25, he is awarded the “Premio Ubu” for his performance in Brecht’s “Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui” (also Italian Critics Prize 2011) for which he worked both as dramaturge and actor side by side with Umberto Orsini, and received a nomination to the “Premio Le Maschere del Teatro Italiano”. Four years later, he receives the “Premio Internazionale Luigi Pirandello” for his achievements in the theatrical field.

Praised as one of the most original, eclectic and visionary theatrical minds of his generation and while fruitfully pursuing his staging and acting activities for the major Italian Theatres (ERT Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione, Teatro di Roma, CTB Centro Teatrale Bresciano, Teatro Franco Parenti di Milano, Teatro Stabile di Napoli and Napoli Teatro Festival, Festival dei Due Mondi di Spoleto, Ravenna Festival), besides working with Orsini (writing the dramaturgy and directing “Le memorie di Ivan Karamazov” based on Dostoevsky), Micheletti approached the methodologies of other great Maestros. He worked with Luca Ronconi at the Biennale di Venezia Teatro and with Marco Bellocchio as main character for his film “Pagliacci” (2013). Micheletti’s filmography also boasts another acting success in “Italian Gangsters” by Renato De Maria. Both the last cited films appeared at the Venice International Film Festival.

Luca Micheletti is also an acclaimed baritone. After having studied music in his childhood, his encounter with Maestro Mario Malagnini, marks the beginning of his career as professional opera singed. Unanimous approval welcomed his performances of the cornerstones of the operatic repertoire by Verdi, Donizetti, Mozart, Bizet… under the baton of Maestro Riccardo Muti, among others. He appears in Hauses such as Teatro alla Scala, Opera di Roma, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, La Fenice di Venezia, Carlo Felice di Genova, Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Teatro Alighieri di Ravenna (Ravenna Festival), Sydney Opera House (Opera Australia), Tokyo Bunka Kaikan. 

Parallel to his work on stage and on set, Micheletti has constantly pursued a prolific editorial activity based on translations, theatre adaptations, dramaturgies, as well as his own original works. Among others, his studies include works about B. Vian (GAM 2008), B.-M. Koltès (Editoria&Spettacolo 2009 e Diabasis 2013), B. Brecht (Ponte Sisto 2011), T. Accetto (Bulzoni 2011), C.-F. Ramuz (GAM 2012 e Damiani 2021), F. Kafka (Sedizioni 2014), K. Mann (Sedizioni 2015), Molière (Falsopiano 2018), H. Ibsen (Cue Press 2019). His first novel “Tutta la felicità” and his dramatic anthology “Scenari di Belfort” were released by Sedizioni (2015, 2017).

Luca, it’s such a pleasure and an honour to be able to talk with such a complex artist – actor, stage director, opera singer & writer! I don’t know where to start from! Thank you very much for accepting my invitation, first of all! 

My pleasure.

I’d like to start this conversation by approaching Luca – the opera singer, if you agree. So… You graduated cum laude in Literature and Theatre Studies (Università degli Studi di Milano e Università IUAV di Venezia) and obtained a PhD in Italianistics at Università “La Sapienza” di Roma with a research on the Renaissance forbidden theatre. When has opera appeared in your life and what were your thoughts, hopes & dreams regarding this field at the beginning of your career?

When I was 9, I started playing the saxophone, with Giovanni Oliva, a great jazzman. I spent all my Saturday afternoons with him for ten years, playing the sax, talking about music and listening to it (since Bach to Coltrane, with no limits)… I think that it was during this special time spent with Giovanni that I felt music would never leave my life. But, it is true: music was not the first interest I cultivated. I was born into a four-generation family of actors hence an heir of a special theatrical tradition. So I started to play at a very young age, and even to direct and write several theatrical pieces. I loved it. I didn’t stop: the stage was only one of my fields of interest: I won a PhD scholarship and I carried on my studies about theatre at University level, with special regard to the Renaissance. Parallel to my academic studies, my career as an actor and director flourished, with important recognitions and Prizes. My sax kept sleeping. Sometimes, Music peered into my plays and stage adventures, but I never taught that it would overwhelmingly become the center of my artistic life. It was when I met my vocal coach, Maestro Mario Malagnini, a tenor from Brescia (like myself) that my interest in singing lead me directly to the opera stage. I already was an opera fan, but merely on the audience side. Back then, I hadn’t actually even tried to sing an entire aria as a professional opera singer. Well, I became one. After some first experiences, Cristina Muti welcomed me to the opera stage, directing me as Iago in Verdi’s Otello. I was, I think, a strange case of a singing-actor… But it worked, and my stock of knowledge about stage life made my transition to the opera world very smooth. And I also went back to play the sax… (Even if it remains a hobby!)

Not long ago you had a wonderful experience, your debut of the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth! But this is not all… you performed this role twice, in Japan, under the guidance of the great Riccardo Muti. I had the fortune to be able to watch the live-streaming performance and I have to say chapeau bas! As an actor, a singer and a stage director, you must have such a wonderful process of getting to know such complex characters! What about your Macbeth?

I’m so blessed. Singing such a great role with Maestro Muti as conductor is one of the most thrilling dreams for a singer. I started from Shakespeare: I’m used to approach the opera starting from the original play, when it exists. I did the same with another fantastic Shakespearian role, Iago, with Rigoletto (I also directed a stage version of Victor Hugo’s Le roi s’amuse, the inspiring play for Verdi’s masterpiece), with Beaumarchais for the Figaro trilogy, and so on… In Macbeth, I think, the most important thing to underline is the journey from fear to awareness in the protagonist’s mind. While the opera proceeds, both in Shakespeare and in Verdi’s works, Lady Macbeth looses her power and strength, and her husband inherits self-consciousness and becomes more and more dominant. Like a vampire, he sucks energy from her. At the end of the play, she is completely crazy, weak, hysterical. On the other hand, Macbeth has become a cruel and cold killer, ready to ponder in his entire life, looking at his future, cursing his choices, but still violent and blood-thirsty. If a singer follows what Verdi writes in the score, he will find the real Macbeth and the exact process described by Shakespeare. In the two first acts, Macbeth is required to sing whispering, with “no voice”, “trattenendo”: only few pages in the score want a strong and loud voice. This is because Macbeth is struggling an intimate battle within himself. The acme of Macbeth’s fear and weakness is just in the middle of the opera, when Banco’s ghost makes his entrance at the banquet. In the very moment the new King realizes that his enemy is still tormenting his mind, even from the deads, he makes the great decision: “Sangue a me quell’ombra chiede, e l’avrà, lo giuro. Il velame del futuro alle streghe squarcerò” (“That ghost wants blood, and I will give him what he wants, I swear. I will break the mantel of the future, questioning the witches”). This is the turning point. In the last two acts, Macbeth will accept his tragic destiny, and Verdi’s music describes this metamorphosis towards a conscious violence and even to a melancholic murderer’s philosophy  (i.e. the great aria “Pietà, rispetto, onore”). I tried to portray the character like this. And Maestro Muti taught me how. 

Read the entire interview & many other interesting articles here, in the 3rd/2021 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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