Fabrizio Funari was born in Rome, Italy, in 1991. His long-term passion for music and lyricism began at the age of thirteen with the songwriting and recording of two single EPs. From a young age, he has always been interested in theatre and opera: first as an acting and directing student and later as a lyricist and playwright. Fascinated by the norms that govern communication, he graduated in Linguistics and Oriental Languages, focusing on the philosophy of language. Polyglot, he continued his academic and professional career in London, Beijing, Madrid and Seville by writing librettos and plays in English, Spanish and Italian and collaborating with established and emerging composers such as Germán Alonso, Niño de Elche, Martin Gaughan, Kieron Smith and Marco Benetti and with international festivals such as the Venice Biennale. His creative engagement with contemporary opera stems from his long-term passion for ancient and postmodern literature and philosophy as well as his interest in queer theory and contemporary art to describe non-normative narratives and identities. For his line of work, he adopted a queering approach which is to be understood in its broader academic terms (i.e. the study of literature, discourse and other social and cultural areas from a non-normative perspective including social, economic, political and cultural issues and identities). Also anti-prescriptive, his writing reflects his modus cogitandi as he restructures and reinvents its grammar, syntax, morphology and, specifically, phonetics.
Fabrizio, what’s it like to be a librettist today?
I love my profession; however, I understand that being a librettist in the XXI century can indeed be challenging. Over the centuries, the different parties involved in the making of opera have taken turns leading the show. At first, the audience’s undivided devotion was for the librettist, then sometime during the Romantic Era they were outshone by the composer, then came the conductor and finally the stage-director. Whilst the general public retain some fondness towards the composer, conductor and stage-director, they forget about who wrote the text they’re moved by. And this is no less rooted in our collective imaginary than it is in our institutions (e.g. Opera houses). In Italy, the birthplace of opera, the situation is even more startling. I’m currently writing a petition to SIAE, one of the leading European collecting societies, to remove their authors’ rights limits. SIAE does not allow librettists to hold more than 40% of the economic rights of a jointly registered work. Which is to say librettists are not as important as composers and therefore should be paid less. Now, everyone has their own beliefs, but this is the law: SIAE systematically forbids both composers and librettists to choose their own economic rights as they see fit. On a cultural perspective, it is interesting to think that SGAE (the Spanish equivalent of SIAE), does in fact allow their authors too freely choose their rights percentages. Similar problems might arise with venues, productions or festivals. I’ve sometimes had to chase down their communication and marketing teams because they “forgot” to mention my name on the official marketing and communication material. So, yeah, I guess you always have to be a bit alert and make sure people give you the credit that you deserve. Luckily, I’ve always worked and collaborated with extremely talented and kind professionals. I’ve also been aware of the importance to carefully choose the people you work with, especially when it comes to composers and I’ve always had great relationships with them, and in most cases, they were the ones who pointed miscredits. At the moment, my longest and most productive collaboration is with my friend and composer Marco Benetti, with with whom I share an almost identical aesthetic and artistic vision and he’s always fun and stimulating to work with. And I cannot stress enough how0