Italian director Luca Ronconi and Swiss musician and director Cristoph Marthaler will be awarded Apr. 19 in Taormina, Sicily, respectively with the "Premio Europa per il Teatro" and the "Premio Europa Nuove Realta Teatrali" for the extraordinary achievements in their careers.
Promoted by the "Union des Theatres de l'Europe", the "Association International Internationale des Critiques de Theatre", the "Festival d'Avignon" and the "Instituto Internacional del Teatro del Mediterraneo", the award, now in its sixth edition, is given each year during the "Taormina Arte" Festival to outstanding figures in the European theatre.
Luca Ronconi is one of the most acclaimed directors both at national and international level: after acting with a number of companies, he turned to direction in 1963 with a version of Goldoni's La Buona Moglie (The Good Wife).
In the course of the mid and later 1960s, he evolved a distinctive and highly theatrical production style with mountings, particularly, of Renaissance drama, including Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and Richard III (starring Vittorio Gassman) and Tourneur's The Revenger's Tragedy. Perhaps his most ambitious work of the 1960s was an inventive and stunningly spectacular stage adaptation in 1968 of Ariosto's epic poem Orlando Furioso, which he co-scripted with the poet Edoardo Sanguinetti.
The range of his work in the 1970s, 80s and 90s has been considerable, including productions of Aeschylus' Oresteia, Middleton's A Game at Chess and Ibsen's Ghosts, plays which reflect an apparent preference for classic or neglected drama, of a kind both intellectually challenging and likely to permit the highly imaginative stage reorchestration that is a hall-mark of his work. His most recent works include Pirandello's I giganti della montagna (The Mountain Giants) in Salzburg, Victor Hugo's Ruy Blas, Euripides' Medea and the stage adaptation of two novels, Gadda's Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana (That Awful Mess on Via Merulana) and Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. In 1991, in an old factory warehouse in Turin, he staged an epic production of Karl Kraus' The Last Days of Mankind, employing over 60 actors and a full-scale train. Cristoph Marthaler, who will be awarded with the "Premio Europa Nuove Realta Teatrali", has composed incidental music for many German theatres. He worked extensively with Basel Theatre, beginning with the unconventional staging in Basel railway station of Ankunft a Bahnof Basel (Arrival at Basel railway station). His recent credits include the 1993 staging in Berlin's Volsbuhne of Murx den Europaerl Murx ihn! Murx ihn! Murx ihn! Murx ihn ab! (Kill, Kill, Kill, Death to the European!), the 1994 mounting of Reinold Schonberg's Pierrot Lunaire in Salzburg and the 1995 Hamburg staging of the opera Stunde Null oder Die Kunst des Servierens - Ein Gedenktraining fur Fuhrungskrafte (Zero Hour or the Art of Serving - Memory Exercise for Executives), a production that travelled to Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Montreal and London. In December 1997 he was awarded with the prestigious "Kortner Award".
The three days Taormina Arte Festival opens Apr. 17 with the Berliner Ensemble production of Der Ozeanflug (The Ocean Flight), a collection of short stories by Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Muller and Fedor Dostoevksij directed by Robert Wilson (a former "Premio Europa" winner), starring Bernard Minetti and featuring music by Hans Peter Kuhn. The Ocean Flight will be repeated Apr. 18.
On Apr. 19, following the official ceremony for the presentation of the awards, Luca Ronconi will preview two scenes from his forthcoming production of Pirandello's Questa Sera si Recita a Soggetto (Tonight We Improvise), which he is currently rehearsing in Rome for a scheduled world premiere next May at the Expo in Lisbon, Portugal.
Further information on "Taormina Arte" and "Premio Europa" is available calling +39 942 21.142.
--By Stefano Curti