JOSEF K. IN SHIMMERING MUSICAL SPIDER WEBS
With his “Il Processo” (The Trial), Alberto Colla has emerged as a prominent and fascinating musical talent. Reggio Emilia’s Teatro Valli was filled and the audience received the debut performance of “Il Processo” with enthusiasm, hailing the arrival of a musical talent of great interest. Colla is gifted with “theatrical” force and is exceptionally refined in his styling, possessing a timbral creativity that is not often heard. He is capable of developing expression that is fluid and subtly implied but with dynamic clarity. His sculpting of instrumental structure and dramatic elements are extremely sophisticated…
[…] His way of stretching the emotional content is very original: the scene at the home of the painter Titorelli (accentuated by the “terrible” chanting of a chorus of little girls); the scene in the cathedral is sacredly archaized and exoticized; the supreme extenuation of the musical narration, threads of a shimmering musical spider web, that undulate in the great void which receives Josef K.’s defenceless sacrifice and execution.
Claudio Tempo - Il Secolo XIX
KAFKA BECOMES LYRIC OPERA FOR COLLA
Colla is a Wagnerian musician of the third millennium. Considering his age, he has an extraordinary understanding of the musical styles of the past and present accompanied by a sense of the thematic continuity of composing which convene with his outstanding sensitivity in terms of the dimension of sound as a symbolic value – almost as if it were a religion with its disciplines and meanings. To further illustrate this aspect and the remarkably polished instrumental results it yields, we can perceive an echo of the observations expressed by Alfred Tomatis, the internationally known French “doctor of sound” who studied the internal resonance produced by music and its effect on our perceptive system. Music as a primary language. This choice fits Josef K. very well. […]
Sandro Cappelletto - La Stampa
THE OPERATIC ADAPTATION OF KAFKA'S «THE TRIAL» IS A MUSICAL TRIUMPH
[Colla] has proven to possess more than just the freshness and enthusiasm expected of a composer making his debut in the agon of musical theatre. He has the maturity of a Class A composer. His orchestral scoring is supported by a variety of strikingly original harmonic and timbral solutions while the syntactic organization of the score is based upon […] a network of well-spaced thematic relations which guarantees the necessary cohesion of materials as well as communicating with the audience through an immediacy that cannot be denied.
Enrico Girardi - Corriere Della Sera
BETWEEN VERDI AND KAFKA: COLLA BRINGS MELODRAMA BACK TO LIFE
“Il Processo” is a Music Drama by all standards. A work of dynamic and versatile brilliance (Colla is also a painter) by a musician who can pride himself in having his very own style (something that should never be underestimated!). […] He takes full advantage of an extremely sensitive oratorical flair for sounds: words are sung within a range that extends from simple syllables to genuinely melodic outpourings. The opera is supported by an admirably orchestrated score, transparent even when the music is at its maximum intensity, although the orchestration is usually held at a moderate volume and often even at minimum intensity. The timbral choices are outstandingly refined and, more importantly, are of dramatic relevance […], a work that can afford the luxury of pages such as the ones written for the cathedral scene with its chorus of innovative Gregorian chants or its many orchestral interludes which proceed to the final curtain with the due theatrical effect and stylistic command – something out of the ordinary.
Giovanni Carli Ballola - Il Mattino
COLLA'S TRIAL OS SOMEWHERE BETWEEN DREAMS AND REALITY
Colla concentrates on two complementary aspects. He accompanies the action with repeated rhythmical pulsations and effects that are vaguely reminiscent of the neoclassical Stravinsky peppered with Jazz-style fanfares, the howling of sirens à la Varèse and the tremors of percussions. It is obvious that the relentless chain of events put into motion is grinding the protagonist into sardonic indifference. But this anxiety is interrupted several times by a dimension of suspended lyricism. In this sphere, Colla has composed extremely evocative pages such as the duet between Josef K. and Fräulein Bürstner - a stream of rustling and gurgling tinged with the sound of bells ringing – or the many pages in which the woodwinds (oboes and English horns, for instance) sing (as in the bygone days) with intense melancholy, especially in the long and evocative symphonic interludes. The finest pages of the opera are found here in these dreamy dimensions: the children meeting in front of the painter’s house, the funeral march preceding the cathedral scene and the threadlike finale in which the life of Josef K. burns out like a candle – dimmer and dimmer, lower and lower.
Paolo Gallarati - La Stampa
One does not come across a work like Alberto Colla’s “Il Processo” every day! First of all, we are talking about authentic lyric opera in which the various expressive “mediums” contribute to the creation of an organic entity, of a concerted and coherent musical tale, despite the fact that the subject matter is not easily grasped in its semantic multiformity (even ‘deformity’ at times).
The second crucial characteristic of the opera in question is the composer’s passionate experimentation in the sphere of musical style. Starting from a system based upon hexatonic modal tones and their relative permutations, Alberto Colla finds a way to develop a style that is quite flexible and adaptable to the work’s different dramatic circumstances which draws from all traditions of Western music – from Gregorian chant to atonality. Such polystylism, derived from the development of its fundamental material, obviates a strictly rationalistic approach to the compositional material. This grants abundant freedom of choice to the composer when he draws upon the model or the spreadsheet (so to say) to bring the real composition to life.
In this sense, Colla achieved the goal he had set and declared explicitly: to give his musical style a certain semantic readiness (thus a formal variability) which does justice to the crazed glimpse of the Abyss that Kafka seems to reveal to the audience at times. The composer put it very well when he said that a semantic certainty would cause the collapse of any freedom of interpretation as well as of the powerful communicativeness of Kafka’s masterpiece. This is why the entire work is built upon a “musical allusion” designed to remind the listener of situations and manners of speaking that belong to the past. That are culturally linked to specific emotional and psychological suggestions, almost as if to create a kind of soundtrack of the events being narrated.
This hypothesis seems to have been confirmed by Alberto Colla himself when he describes the functionality of the method in terms of the situation he wanted to suggest. When speaking of non-tonal polar chords he says that they are “ideal for mystical, aerial and suspended effects” and when analyzing the asymmetrical chords that can be obtained, he defined them as being suited to “moments of maximum tension”. By creating his own personal method of organizing the material while freeing himself of any constraints, the composer was able to resolve the challenging issue of coordinating the necessary compositional standards with the requisites of an audience of non-musicians. He tries to bridge the well-known hiatus between musicians and the public by avoiding the easy way out offered by a minimalist approach or, even worse, the option of “Neo-Romanticism”. These solutions are an attempt to overcome a sense of guilt (Emilio Sala speaks acutely of the Oedipus complex) towards avant-garde music of the Darmstadt school which forfeited communication with the audience for structure and rationalistic rigour.
Colla’s opera is very well written and free-flowing to the ear, thanks also to his great timbral and instrumental skills [...].Incidentally, his orchestration of the final scene (“second offstage scene”) is extremely evocative, mostly due to the sound of the strings in the high register that are magically combined with that of the vibraphone.
The singers are all praiseworthy. Always alert and capable of understanding the score, they brought Colla’s mosaic-like vocal music to the stage with the great expressiveness he intended. It also leaves us with the impression of the heart that beats behind the technique.
Daniele Di Maggio - “Top Hat” Spettacolo On Line
THE INEVITABLE TRIAL OF MR. K.
[…]an unforgettable turnout for a work of contemporary music: all sold out. […] Colla has succeeded in making his own work perfectly Kafkaesque, conjuring up the most disquieting spirit of the Czech writer […]
Maria Sella - Amici Della Musica