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Franco Battiato - Telesio CD (album) cover


Franco Battiato


Rock Progressivo Italiano

2.05 | 3 ratings

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2 stars 'Basically we're all holograms'

Before I start, I just want to point out the fact, that 2 stars can convey just about anything on this site. What it actually stands for is "Collectors/fans only", which effectively means that to those enlightened few of us, the music can be anything spanning from superfluous spam to goose bumps inducing sonic manna from the heavens.

Franco Battiato is an eclectic gentleman. As a matter of fact, he just might be one of the few people out there who've tried and succeeded in making progressive electronic, avantguarde RPI, psychedelic folk, micro-tonal piano experiments and easy on the ears 80s pop music with a strong penchant for melody and the radio sphere. He does what he likes, and more than often he gets away with it. With Telesio he has created the world's first holographic opera. What?!?!?! Oh yes, inspired by the great philosopher Bernardino Telesio (1509-1588) and commissioned by the city of Cosenza, Battiato has written a contemporary opera that defies what most of us link together with a theatrical stage performance.

Everything, apart for the Philharmonia Mediterranea Orchestra, is presented on stage as holograms. All of the singers, dancers and performers are elsewhere during the entire show, although still represented up there on a huge holographic screen whilst the booming symphonic sounds roam.

First of all, and perhaps most importantly, I have sadly not seen this riveting spectacle. As much as I'd love to, my financial status denies me of a trip to the wonderful and charismatic country of Italy, but something tells me that this gig indeed would have been something to see - something to experience first hand and subsequently tell one's grandchildren about in half a decade or so.

Battiato has gone on record saying that he found the philosophical writings of Telesio both inspiring and modern. Yet one cannot do a philosophical opera. Telesio is however an opera about his philosophy. That sounds rather straightforward and given, but when you start looking around at some of the progressive rock concept albums being made about lord knows what, it becomes clear just how right this man is - and he is actually being honest about it. Alright he is still slightly artsy about the production and how everything works hand in hand here, but then again, he wouldn't be the one and only Battiato if he didn't say things like 'Basically we're all holograms'. Keeping in mind that this production interweaves classical music, dance, holograms, poetry and projection, and the fact that Franco boy has a deep devotion of Eastern thinkings and quantum physics - one suddenly realises just how much thought and effort he must've put into this venture, and perhaps to a small part of our progressive music community, the notion of being a hologram shot out by some strange metaphysical contraption, maybe nature itself, sounds rather alluring and profound. Now, I am no computer buff, nor am I electronically enlightened (maybe apart for the sonic side of things, but that's another matter altogether), but all of the mechanics surrounding this huge project seem overwhelmingly boring to me, but to those of you with an interest in how the ingenious people created this trailblazing event, I am almost certain that you can find something out there in the Google perimeter fitting the bill. To me however, it's all about the music, and I'll tell you straight off the bat, that putting this mother in the stereo was a very strange experience. I am just about the biggest Battiato fan out there, but I know him from his experimental rock leanings and his later soft rock and pop side, - so when I then heard this gigantic orchestra with huge sweeps of classical music, I needed to sit down for a moment and collect my thoughts.

I don't pretend to know a lot about opera, in fact the only ones I really know and occasionally enjoy are the famous ones by Mozart and Bizet's Carmen. But Battiato's opera about Telesio speaks to me. It's like watching a surrealistic movie about snow - feeling the beautiful cold and serene power of winter flowing over you. It's close and intimate, and even if you've been exposed to the matter before, you can never really know it before it melts away in your hands. Opera is like that. You've heard it in movies and on distant radios - conveying sounds from an ancient world of huge emotions and a time where love was red, but at least to me, the music has become synonymous with childhood dreams, which in itself is quite the feat.

On Telesio the music bears traces of the man behind it, and luckily so I might add. You can hear the distinct piano style of Battiato - the way he's always phrased and stitched music together - sometimes rather clumsily and apart, but with age this man has become velvety like a nob of butter. The characteristics are there in full bloom - even in the singers' vocal melodies - and they exude a natural curiosity about their surrounding world, relegating a thinking man's life like Telesio's quite extraordinarily and beautifully.

So why the 2 stars then? Because Telesio at heart is an opera album. You won't find anything prog rocking about it - no matter how hard you look (oh well maybe except for the bionic cover art that is...), and to those of you who like this sort of music, I wholeheartedly recommend you dive into the music - by all means do so and be quick about it too! But to the casual prog rock fan, this venture will almost certainly disappoint. So 2 stars for this site and its listeners and 4 for myself and any others with a taste for classical music and opera.

Guldbamsen | 2/5 |


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