Ti vedo, ti sento, mi perdo

In attesa di Stradella

Opera in two acts

Music and text by

Salvatore Sciarrino

Salvatore Sciarrino is no stranger to the Staatsoper. Five of his music theatre works were performed between 2010 and 2016 in the Schiller Theater. His new work has all the features of his distinctive style: crystal-clear, fragile yet urgent music. In addition, he has produced a highly artificial, nuanced text treatment with references to past chapters of music history, now set in a contemporary context.
The subtitle of »Ti vedo, ti sento, mi perdo« (»To see you, to feel you, to lose me«) is »Waiting for Stradella«. This alludes to the fate of Alessandro Stradella, a highly prominent Italian composer during his time, who died in mysterious circumstances in 1682 – the victim of a violent crime.

The work is set in the home of the aristocratic family Colonna in baroque Rome, where a singer, a writer, a musician, a choir and an instrumental ensemble are on stage awaiting the arrival of the composer.. But instead of the promised new aria, they receive news of Stradella’s death. In the lead-up, the music and life of this controversial, original artist – a legend during his lifetime – are extensively reported and reflected upon. Different perspectives and values play a role, as do thoughts on human nature, the body, the senses and passion – in other words, the very essence of opera as an art form.

Accompanying »Ti vedo, ti sento, mi perdo«, the Staatsoper presents the exhibition »Salvatore Sciarrino – Sign and Sound« in the Apollosaal, in collaboration with Bertelsmann / Archivio Storico Ricordi, Milan. It includes various sketches, diagrams, and personal documents and consequently allows an insight into Sciarrino’s way of working. The exhibition is accessible from June 30 until July 15, 2018 during all performances at the Opera House.




Rome, during the age of the High Baroque: in a hall of a grand palazzo, a performance is in preparation. A stage is built; the musicians, including a singer, several chorus members and instrumentalists, rehearse the cantata that is to be performed on this occasion. It deals with the emergence and essence of music: the myth of Orpheus. At first, it depicts the passing of the island of the Sirens, when Orpheus is able to lead his fellow travelers past the song of the man-murdering sirens by drowning them out with his powerful voice.
The writer and the musician listen impatiently to the rehearsal. They are waiting for the famous composer Alessandro Stradella, who leads a life riddled with scandal, the “new Orpheus” who promised a new aria as the highlight of the performance. While the musician is skeptical of Stradella’s eccentric innovations, the writer in contrast sees them as nothing less than the search for truth, as in the paintings of Caravaggio. The singer also reveals herself to be a Stradella aficionado and provides several samples of his music.
In the meantime, the servants of the house, Solfetto, Finocchio, Minchiello, and the maids Pasquozza and Chiappina, make fun of the Prince and Princess, the master of the house and his wife, and their guests, mocking their “highnesses” and their strange behavior and exchange the latest gossip. All the while, the rehearsal is continued. The musician and the writer come to speak of Stradella’s excessive private life: numerous passionate affairs, including with some of the noblest ladies of Roman society, are rumored to regularly cause him difficulties.

Years later, the rehearsal still continues without Stradella having appeared. Solfetto and Finocchio wait with the news that the composer has fled the city with his latest flame, a countess, but her husband is in hot pursuit. Unimpressed by this, the rehearsal continues.
Other rumors then begin to circulate: Stradella is supposed to have been attacked by pursuers in Turin, but, to everybody’s relief, survived the attack and then sought refuge in Genoa—now without his lover. But it seems dubious whether he will be able to complete his composition.
The singer interrupts work on the cantata and turns to several short songs by Stradella, while the servants ask in boredom when the rehearsal will finally be over. Slowly the cantata seems to come to an end, with the description of Orpheus’ murder by the furious bacchantes.
In the meantime, the musician and the writer begin to argue over the question of sensuality in art. Their argument is interrupted by the appearance of a young singer who reports that Stradella has been murdered. Together with a violinist, he begins a lament to the great artist.
With this, the rehearsal comes to an abrupt end, the singers and musicians leave the hall. The young singer hands over a sheet of music to the perplexed singer, not saying a word. While leaving, he discusses Stradella’s modest legacy with the musician and the writer. The singer, now left alone, decodes the music on the paper: it is the aria she had been waiting for the whole time?