||<p>This dissertation consists of two parts: the artistic part is a dramatic cantata
for Baritone, Chamber Ensemble, Male Choir and Electronics. The scholarly part is
an article which inquires into compositional aspects of Luciano Berio’s choral and
symphonic piece Coro.Chapter 1 presents The Pit and the Pendulum, a dramatic cantata,
in full score. Using the enhanced sonic environment allowed by the superimposition
of vocal and acoustic music with a fantastic landscape created by means of electronic
sounds, my composition explores the themes of Poe’s story. The tale, full of powerful
metaphoric images, could be seen as a description of the experience of imprisonment.
The pendulum descending from the ceiling, beyond being a clear metaphor of the inexorable
passing of time, was actually one of the tortures used by the Spanish Inquisition.
The blazing walls directly recall instruments of torture used at the time, as well.
Nonetheless, the pit, whose black abyss is a symbol of indeterminacy, seems to point
us to the annihilation of our conscience, typical of the most brutal torture of every
kind and era. Victims of torture normally succumb to delirium though isolation, starvation
and the alternation of torture and respite. On the brink of the pit, faced with the
blackness of death, the mind of the condemned is, in this case, pushed beyond its
limits and, ironically, he becomes able to conceive things that otherwise would be
beyond his intellective and emotional faculties. From this terrible experience, in
Poe’s tale, the prisoner gains the intuition and the knowledge of a deeper inner reality.
In this regard, The Pit and the Pendulum is a tale of salvation and growth, against
Chapter 2 presents the theoretical part of the dissertation, “Formal Plan and Constructive
Principles of the Heterophonic Textures in Berio’s Coro.” This analytic essay on the
large choral/symphonic work Coro, written in 1976 by Luciano Berio, is based on my
study of his manuscripts preserved at the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel. I was able
to consult the archive in June 2019. The article explores Berio’s motives in his placement
of the choir in relation to the orchestra onstage, its premises and its consequences
from a compositional point of view. It also investigates the relation between Berio’s
music and the work of the ethnomusicologist Simha Arom on central African music, which
inspired the composition. Thanks to some sketches left by the composer, I have been
able to reconstruct the motivation behind some of the most significant compositional
choices of the piece as well as several compositional procedures used by the composer
to present and develop his musical discourse.
In Chapter 3 the aesthetic and scholarly conclusions of this dissertation are summarized.