W V.E.R.D.I (Quasi un epitaffio)


W V.E.R.D.I. (Quasi un epitaffio) is a one-page composition that brings together music, graphic design and socio-political commentary, no less. This is how it came to life...

Back in February 2012, when the wonky celebrations for the 150 years of the Italian unification were sealed off, I came up with the idea of my own Italian Memorial. So I couldn’t help thinking about the de facto slogan of the Risorgimento (an acronym sharing the surname of Giuseppe Verdi): W V.E.R.D.I. (Viva Vittorio Emanuele Re D'Italia, or Long Live Victor Emmanuel King of Italy), referring to Victor Emmanuel II. I decided to use it as the structure of the composition, assigning the 5 letters of his name to the numbers they occupy in the Italian alphabet (V-E-R-D-I: 20-5-16-4-9). I then associated those numbers to the operas by Verdi (in their chronological order), that is to say: Les vêpres siciliennes (twentieth opera), Ernani (fifth), Stiffelio (sixteenth), I Lombardi alla prima crociata (fourth), Attila (nineth). Funnily enough, 3 of them have some direct links to the patriotism of the Risorgimento (Ernani, I Lombardi, Attila), with a fourth (Les vêpres) imbued with some revolutionary flavour, too. I then took the final chords of the five operas (A major, G major, C major—used in two operas—B flat major) and I spread them among the instruments of a modern orchestra. The result is a chilling music logo, a sort of epitaph for a State that looks more like a state of mind.

As I was studying to complete it, I then stumbled upon a philosophical resonance that could support my work. In the chapter dedicated to the Disposizione delle armonie dissonanti e politonali (Arrangement of Dissonant and Polytonal Harmonies) of his Trattato di orchestrazione (ed. Carish), Alessandro Cusatelli says that “on the one hand, the separatist choice favours a sharp and lacerating contrast of different consonances that become incompatible dissonances when they collapse onto each other. On the other hand, the antagonist choice tries and find some plausible assimilations, thus getting to a magma of chords that bears a smooth, mysterious, and more complex interpretation.” Had he been talking about the present days of Italy, we would not have found better words to put it.

Francesco Fusaro