The central ideas for the development of all aspects of this project are “journey and transformation”. From the very start of our creative discussions, world-renowned Dante scholar, translator and poet Robin Kirkpatrick (University of Cambridge) established the central thrust of his libretto for our new work “Journeying the Commedia: Desert, Discovery and Song.” Notre Dame Dante Scholars Vittorio Montemaggi, Christian Moevs and Leonardo DeLorenzo reaffirmed these ideas, and provided the artists with critical motivations, symbolic images, and theological observations that preserve Dante’s central message of spiritual transfiguration after a journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise.
Award winning stage director Anton Juan (Notre Dame) and artistic director Carmen-Helena Tellez conceptualized an immersive and interactive experience. Anton Juan is known for his appeal to deep emotions. In combination with choreographers Kristina Isabelle and Ayako Kato he suggested the distortion and suspension of time.
Notre Dame Dante scholar Vittorio Montemaggi started the evening giving a short lecture about the central directive of the whole Commedia, namely, LOVE. The audience then initiated a promenade, first visiting Inferno with Dante and Virgil. Shaped as a short play, Inferno showed us some of the harrowing stories about pride, terror, and misconstrued love.
Exiting Inferno, the audience the audience processed surrounding by the Gregorian chants that Dante had heard through the passageways of Purgatorio, full of beauty and prayers self-discovery. The souls in pilgrimage surround him and Virgil with beautiful liturgical songs as they wait for delivery into Paradise.
A festive dance of all creation leads the audience into Paradise, where Dante’s long-lost love, Beatrice, awaits him to guide him further up into the highest spheres, close to Our Lady. Paradise is all music, as Dante thinks this art form is like a prayer and a blessing. The most beautiful new sounds composed by Robert Kyr join the dances and compelling images by our guest artists.