Christopher Cerrone's Invisible Cities
Invisible Cities is a staged musical distillation of Italo Calvino's evocative surrealist novel. Written by Christopher Cerrone and performed by four singers, small chorus and chamber orchestra, the work imagines the relationship of the historical figures Kublai Khan and Marco Polo.
As the piece opens, the aging Khan sits remote in a shabby palace, watching his massive empire slowly decay. In quiet despair, he turns to the vivid young adventurer, Marco Polo, demanding an honest reflection of the empire's condition. Instead of a single image, though, Polo offers myriad visions of the cities he has visited, real, imagined, wished for, wanted, extraordinary, oppressive, quotidian, whimsical; all ultimately reveries of his distant home, Venice, as well as his own heart, self and memory. These fractured pieces slowly reflect a whole truth; that infernal decay cannot corrupt all things, and that one may choose to seek, acknowledge and celebrate the incorruptible in all layers of life.
Invisible Cities explores the elemental human forces of love, death, memory, desire. Musically, the composer draws on wide-ranging influences avant-garde, baroque opera, electronic, minimalist to evoke and explore this compelling landscape.
The Italian Academy at Columbia University
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