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The Wings of Daedalus
Live performance: 28 Nov 2003 --
Presented by: Maurizio Squillante and FedericoPlacidi
Public: unknown
Ascoli Piceno
Ascoli -- Italy

Using the myth of Daedalus as a metaphor for humanity's drive towards cyborgian self-modification (and the ultimate renunciation of physicality), composer Maurizio Squillante has created a shockingly beautiful opera for our times. Premiered in Ascoli Picena at the Ventidio Basso Theatre with an international cast of five singers, one actor and four dancers, the opera expresses these concepts through an innovative libretto, daring staging, the use of cutting-edge technologies, compositional techniques, and vocal interpretations to signal the advent of the "Cyborg era."

Discussion (Eyewitness reports, descriptions, discussion):

To symbolize human sounds extended by technology, sound designer Federico Placidi used Kyma to synthesize the all-electronic score and to extend the singers' voices through processing. Visually, the concept was established through staging and costume design by Australian performance artist Stelarc.

Inspired by the narrative theme of the Minoan myth of Daedalus, the opera portrays a chain of symbolic events that begins with the escape from the contemporary labyrinth of dogma (through the violation of the human body and its limits), through the hyper-individualistic path of Daedalus/Cyborg (the fusion of two natures: biological and technological), and ending in the future labyrinth: a network of infinite repetition of known experience, where humanity will collectively transcend its nature by renouncing its physicality and becoming pure information or gnosis. You can catch a glimpse of some of the staging.

A touring company will perform the opera in Italy and France towards the end of 2004. After that, Squillante hopes to organize an US tour with an American cast and crew.

There are some amazing new videos and photos available on the Associazione Italiana Opera Lirica Contemporanea website.

Video (click to view):

and photos from 38 Rugissants:



Review of the French premiere (from 38 Rugissants: 20h : Hexagone - Scène nationale de Meylan Maurizio Squillante : "The Wings of Daedalus"

Before the show, an electronic net of fog escapes accompanied by thundering from the speakers. When the light falls and the red curtains part, we plunge into a bluish dawn. Imprisoned under the flank of an imposing metal Minotaur which descends to rest on a broad glass structure, a counter-alto lament destiny groaning: "Thus turns the the eternal wheel of the future, the eternal desire to leave a trace and never disappear." It turns over towards the sky and precedes the opposite movement by Apollo. The golden god, encased in a disc of glass, prevent humans from substituting the rules laid down by him. On the scene, four dancers celebrate in slow distortions the arrival of the star of the day before being erased. In a cube of glass, face covered by a monk's hood, Minos, David Haughton joint author of the libretto of the opera by Fabio Squillante, puts forth the thesis of the work in a long poetic tirade which denounces the foolish desire of man, who by his machines thinks it possible to insulate himself from life. Then the soprano Pauline Vaillancourt arrives, it is Daedalus, its mutant body assimilated metal and in its blood run electrons. The dancers armed with mini cameras probe its body and its heart. Based on the Greek myth of the Minotaur, Maurizio Squillante describes a humanity lost in an impalpable but inexorable labyrinth. To flee it, humanity seems to want to play the sorcerer's apprentice and use science to abolish its statute of mortality. The work is baroque, the decorations and the costumes awake an imagery of science fiction and Heroic Fantasy. The music is abstract, the songs evolve/move slowly, they are plaintive murmurs and moanings as much as notes. Technology is omnipresent, videos of swarming matter in 3d, spatialized sound effect, micro cameras and robots. In the second act, we are in the laboratory of Cocalos. In a tank of glass, he supervises the culturing of some mutants, cyborg beings with which he intends to invade the universe. The text seizes on imagery specific to new technologies: "? Locking - password - free fly - go! Jamming - backslash double slash ". Daedalus returns and exhorts the cyborgs to be escape from their electronic yoke, his message will be heard. Forsaken, the démiurge dies under the severe glance of Apollo, who has returned with the night star to note the achievement of his prophecy. Minotaur also returns to reiterate the litany: "Thus turns the eternal wheel of the future".

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