Monologue, Subjectivity, intersubjectivity, Intertextuality, Music Theatre, Berio, Berberian
Recital I (for Cathy) conceived by Luciano Berio for Cathy Berberian in 1972 constitutes a heterogeneous journey through musical quotations. A number of musical excerpts, extrapolated mainly from Berberian’s repertoire, are contained within a stream of consciousness led through the libretto, a monologue by Edoardo Sanguineti, Andrea Mosetti and Luciano Berio, heavily edited by Berberian after the first performance. Within this text, as suggested by Berberian and by the performance instructions provided in the published edition of the work, performers are expected to insert their own musical fragments, provided that they belong to their vocal repertoire, thus creating a new work tailored to each performer’s vocal and performing strengths.
The subjective rendition of each performer corresponds to the inputs suggested by the text, and represents a formalised musical type of Rorschach test triggered by meaning assigned to the monologue. Through its intertextual backbone, the work asserts its open nature, but also its intersubjective nature, being an arena for endless interpretations of the text.
The relation between meaning and musical response on the one hand, and embodiment and creativity on the other, sheds light on the strong psychoanalytical implant of the work. Recital I is the acid test of performers’ subjective acquaintance with their musical repertoire, and requires performers/composers to narrow the boundary between their subjectivity and performance skills. The performer becomes the exposed medium of her/his own stream of consciousness that, through processes related to memory and subjectivity, relinquishes the realm of interpretation to become the naked embodiment of the self.
Thus Recital I is an interesting example of intersubjectivity conveyed through intertextuality. The ‘Recital’ envisaged by Berberian and Berio is an arena in which the solo singer not only ‘plays’ the protagonist of the work, but also becomes the scapegoat of his/her personal and idiomatic artistic self-reflection.