With the state of live shows, concerts and festivals still uncertain, 2020 was marked, if nothing else, by further growth in the digital experience, because despite everything, music can’t and shouldn’t stop.
For this reason, the “Opera Series” was born, which aims to tell the story of some of the most beautiful areas of Sicily through music.
The main objective is to expand the image of Sicily on an international scale, focusing on the importance of cultural entrepreneurship in the enhancement and promotion of the territory and resources of a specific area.
The first event was broadcasted on January 20th, guests were the Cratere Centrale, a band from Catania that mixes jazz and funk with house and hip hop sounds and that over the years has shared the stage with artists such as Nu Guinea and Erlend Oye.
The next chapter not to be missed is scheduled for tomorrow, will feature Beercock, an Anglo-Italian artist and performer who has recently released his second LP entitled “Human Rites”. As background this time the fantastic territories on the eastern slopes of Etna in the town of Milo.
To follow the event just connect to their Facebook page, to live even from home a unique experience characterized by the mystical sounds of Beercock one step from the highest active volcano in Europe.
For the occasion, we also had the pleasure of having a chat with Andrea Cavallaro, art director of the Opera project.
Andrea today deals mainly with cultural planning, marketing and PR. He recently became General Manager of Sicilia Festivals, the new network of Sicilian festivals, of which he was co-creator and founder.
At a time when music is at a standstill, you have decided not to let it stop by going against the trend, how did the Opera Series project come about?
Yes it’s true, the pandemic had a very strong impact on the entertainment industry but I think music has never stopped. The concerts have stopped, the live music has stopped, but the industry is still very creative thankfully.
Many artists are continuing to release albums with the knowledge that the tours will not take place and this in itself is a good thing if only because it continues to feed a part of the supply chain, and on the other hand continue to develop new content, experiment with new languages.
In the course of the pandemic, we have seen an exponential increase in the use of digital through streaming, artistic performances are conveyed on digital channels, not that this did not happen before, many global media have approached this form of communication for years, but it is clear that the experience of the viewer of a live performance during a concert compared to the digital experience is clearly different.
I don’t want to say that the experience is better or worse, but it is certainly sacrificed according to the model that has been presented to us until now.
Starting from these reflections we have thought about how to improve the experience of the viewer and if you live in Sicily, an area so rich in scenic beauty, history, and traditions, it is natural to think of telling about your land.
As a man of the south and a Sicilian, in the projects that I have carried out in recent years, including Ortigia Sound System, Sicilianity has always played a central role in the story, but never through stereotypes.
Opera Series was born with the spirit of conjugating the artistic and performative side with the territory, building a story-telling that could tell the landscape and enhance the most artisanal aspects of the places.
At a time when the public cannot enjoy the artistic performance live, it seemed obvious to use the language of audio-visual and to think of Opera as an itinerant project with several episodes, hence the payoff “Series”.
Another fundamental factor that gave a strong impetus to the birth of the project, I believe, is the awareness of the role of cultural design with respect to the event organizer.
I believe that the task of those who do this job is also this, to be able to react in the face of change, adapt and create, trying to make projects sustainable.
In order for this to happen, we need to train resources that approach cultural activity in business terms.
The most striking thing is to merge the territory and the music, something that is not often seen and especially not every day to play in a unique setting, between sea and mountains. Which are the next steps and which artists will you host?
It’s true, it doesn’t happen often to merge territory and music, however, as General Manager of Sicilia Festivals I can affirm that Sicilian festivals that make experience one of the key factors of their planning have managed to combine these aspects, especially thanks to a generation of cultural entrepreneurs, young and old, who with great determination are reappropriating spaces.
On the other hand, institutions have understood that models such as experiential festivals and audio-visual products such as Opera Series are models that have a central role in the promotion, regeneration and enhancement of territories.
On the digital side, until now we have been used to enjoying performances in a fairly static way, even though they are set in extremely evocative and exciting locations.
With Opera Series, we wanted to build storytelling linked to the territory, and I believe that this was the most beautiful part of the project.
Researching the places, imagining the artistic performance, taking care of the relationship with the institutions and the local realities, knowing the stories of a place told by the people who live there, I believe that this is the most human aspect of our work. All these contents linked to nature and to the artistic sphere are reworked in the production phase of communication, public relations and press office, for the conception and creation of the project. When you take care of these aspects in a meticulous way, with care, attention most of the times you get to the belly of the artist, who gives his best. This was the case for the guys at Cratere Centrale who put on an exciting live show for the first episode of the series.
The next step is the launch of the second episode set in Milo, a village perched on the slopes of Etna, famous for its Etna Bianco Superiore Doc, and seems to be home of the master Franco Battiato.
Lucio Dalla made it his second home and the amphitheater is named after him. It is a land to which I am deeply tied because besides being the town of my parents, they are the places of my childhood and adolescence and they tell a very particular relationship between man and nature.
On the one hand the volcano, Etna and its destructive force and on the other hand the hard work of a man of which the vine is perhaps the highest expression. To perform will be Beercock, who has recently released the album “HUMANS RITES” produced by 800A Records, which has already received enormous consents and favors from critics.
Beercock’s performance has been recorded inside the vineyard of “I Vigneri di Salvo Foti”, a historical Etnean vine-grower who cultivates the vine as a sapling, trying to use non-invasive tools and systems, respecting, as far as possible, the tradition of their ancient vines, continuing a tradition of over 500 years, when in Catania in 1435 was established the association of vine-growers “Maestranza dei Vigneri”.
What are the goals of the Opera Series? And above all, when everything will clearly return to normal, is there a possibility that the project will go ahead with the presence of the public?
The Series was born as a rib of the project “Opera Radio Tour”. The Radio Tour project was initially conceived as an itinerant festival and has retraced the cities of the canceled Sicilian festivals: Ortigia, Milazzo, Marsala, San Vito lo Capo, Castellammare del Golfo and Catania. Opera is a reference to the “Opra dei Pupi” that at the beginning of the 20th century was the traveling caravan that animated the Sicilian squares. In the same way, I imagined the Radio Tour as the traveling caravan that revived the Sicilian squares in the post-Covid period enriching the cultural offer of the destinations in a process of artistic creation with the organizations of the places, and therefore also operating, doing, creating. With the restrictions dictated by the DPCM of August, we limited ourselves to making music diffusion, streaming the contents produced and promoting the territories that hosted the project.
Both the creation of a tour, the palimpsest, and the construction of the episodes of the Series allow you to have contact points with institutions, local citizens and stakeholders in general. Certainly among Opera’s objectives, there is first of all the territory, not because the artistic performance is not central to the project, on the contrary, but the desire is to create cross products that tell about places, art, and the relationship between man and nature in a contemporary way. Another objective is to continue to work so that the institutions understand the fundamental role of organizations and cultural design in the processes of community development. On the possibility of hosting public if there are protocols that will allow it, I don’t exclude that it could happen.