Berberian, Bussotti and Dance

Producer: Sandra Fuciarelli
Director: Vincenzo Mistretta

Work in progress: This project is in the production stage.

Project Description

The project, “Berberian, Bussotti and Dance”, will document the connection between Sylvano Bussotti and Cathy Berberian and the integration of their work through dance, with original choreography created by Sandra Fuciarelli and performed by dancers of the Italian National Academy of Dance. Vincenzo Mistretta will integrate choreography, music and images with interviews and archival documents in a documentary on the dynamic working connections between Berberian and Bussotti.

The preparations for the dance and the filming will be recorded and incorporated as an integral part of the documentary’s structure. Our journey together, as filmmaker and choreographer, will be the process through which we will discover and present Berberian’s breathtaking voice.  The cinematic goal is to expand on Sylvano Bussotti’s observation: “it is difficult to say if sound accompanies dance or the body accompanies sound; they are two elements of life and art attempts to be their witness.” The body interprets with movement and within the anatomy of the documentary, the camera provides another form of movement, one likewise closely connected to rhythm, time and space. This third element of life— the cinema— will be a tribute to the relationship between Berberian and the animated movement of the body. Music and movement are, furthermore, two elements of living that have propelled the relationship between Fuciarelli and Mistretta.

Catherine Anahid Berberian (1925-1983) was a composer, mezzo-soprano singer, and vocalist. From 1950 to 1966 she was married to composer Luciano Berio, who deconstructed her voice in Thema (Omaggio a Joyce) (1958) and wrote his Circles (1960) and Recital I (for Cathy) (1972) for her. In addition Sylvano Bussotti, John Cage, Hans Werner Henze and Igor Stravinsky wrote works for her voice. She interpreted contemporary avant-garde music, Armenian folk songs, Monteverdi, The Beatles, and her own compositions. Her best known work is her Stripsody (1966), in which she exploits her vocal technique using comic book sounds. Stripsody is in the CD included with this proposal and is one of the works that will be performed for the documentary.

Sylvano Bussotti (born 1931) is an Italian composer of contemporary music. Born in Florence, Bussotti learned to play the violin as a child, becoming a prodigy. As a composer he was influenced by the twelve-tone music of Webern and later John Cage. Bussotti associates symbolism, colour of light, gesture, speech, writing and action with music. Examples of his use of graphic notation in his pieces, often reflecting his personal life, include Lorenzaccio and La passion selon Sade. He partook in other academic disciplines including painting, graphic art, and journalism. He has composed Compositions dedicated to Cathy Berberian who had a similar approach and relationship with music.