November 29th 2018

Studio Loos

Michał Libera

Lethe. Opera Buffa Acusmatica

Lethe is an acousmatic opera comprised of recordings taken exclusively in Napoli

and inlaid with the music of Luciano Cilio, short-lived local composer. The town is

the place where opera buffa was born in early 18th century. It favored local dialects

over official language, mundane heroes and crimes over gods and myths, real

voices over operatic singing. All these features still constitute the vibe of the city

which seems to be an opera in itself. Being in Napoli means being surrounded by

recitatives and arias or rather by the unique mixture of both. The local dialect with

its phrasing and intonation turns everyday public quarrels and calls into music

gestures pointing right to the very heart of an opera – a landscape of characters, as

Robert Ashley famously put it. The conceptual and structural framework of Lethe

comes from topography of purgatory. It was often represented as an underwater

mountain steming out of the sea straight into paradise. It is no surprise that the

Phlegrean Fields, the land on which Napoli is situated, has long been considered the

place of purgatory. However, there are local beliefs which far from the popular idea

of purgatory as the transitory state. According to them, the souls of anonymous

dead people remain there forever and may become traders with the alive. Perhaps

this commerce with the dead explains why so many of the local expressive calls

remain unanswered or rather answered in an inaudible way.


Michał Libera

Michał Libera is a sociologist working in music field mostly as sound essayist,

producer, curator and writer. He runs conceptual pop label Populista dedicated to

mis- and over- interpretation of music and experiments with various sound

narrations incl. tape music, installations and opera collaborating with Rinus van

Alebeek, Apartment House, Hilary Jeffery, Martin Küchen, Barbara Kinga

Majewska, Ralf Meinz and others. He lives in Warsaw and Naples.