The book “Le Città Invisibili” – Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino explores imagination and the imaginable through the descriptions of cities by an explorer, Marco Polo. It is framed as a conversation between the aging and busy emperor Kublai Khan, who constantly has merchants coming to describe the state of his expanding and vast empire, and Polo.
The majority of the book consists of brief prose poems describing 55 cities, apparently narrated by Polo. Short dialogues between the two characters are interspersed every five to ten cities and are used to discuss various ideas presented by the cities on a wide range of topics including linguistics and human nature.
Not only is the book structured around an interlocking pattern of numbered sections, but the length of each section’s title graphically outlines a continuously oscillating sine wave, or perhaps a city skyline. The interludes between Khan and Polo are no less poetically constructed than the cities, and form a framing device, a story with a story, that plays with the natural complexity of language and stories.
Since 2009 the musician Andrea Guzzoletti has been working on a project called “invisible cities” based around the book which was brought forward to the public – his CD “Invisible cities” in 2010 (article here)
Just like the book, the disc is a metaphysical voyage where the predominant themes are the dual nature of language and communication, closed versus open environments, movement and stasis – in the sense of actual physical movement as opposed to mental ‘travel’.
The trumpet is both traveller and listener; but this role is also exchanged with and between the other instruments: Piano and Guitar. As with the novel, the objective is to create order from a multitude of sounds and colours often in contrast with one another, in fact in this work there appear to be no precise structures but a particular attention which encompasses everything from the minute detail to ensemble visions; but always looking where others cannot see, towards that which appears invisible to them. The work consists of a total of 9 tracks composed and arranged by Andrea Guzzoletti, featuring important contributions from two other elements who, as well as being close friends, are also superb musicians : Roberto Cecchettoand Stefano Onorati
The disc is dedicated to the memory of the great musician Hector Zazou who tragically passed away in September 2008, and contains a previously unreleased live track which gives us further valuable insight by way of a performance by Andrea Guzzoletti on stage together with his friend Hector Zazou.
We now jump forward to the Barga Jazz Festival in 2015 with “Invisible Cities” which as Frank Viviano in his article noted – this was an endless work in progress.
The concert we heard in the theatre hall on August 18 was not the same as the recorded version sold on CDs outside in the lobby. Nor is it the concert the next live audience of “Invisible Cities” will hear. The city is a metaphor for endless diversity, a dizzying mosaic of individual journeys. A permanent work in progress that defies completion. Among all the feats that Guzzoletti’s ensemble achieved at the Teatro dei Differenti, the most extraordinary was to pick up where Italo Calvino left off and expand on it. Just as a city, left to its own organic energies, never ceases to expand and metamorphize.
The artist Keane has also been involved in this project since 2009.
He listened to the music that Andrea has been producing right from the start of this project and created images based on what he could hear – a series of monoprints and paintings which were exhibited in Barga Vecchia during 2010 (article here )
In 2018 the (article here) Oxo Collection Gallery in Barga Vecchia commissioned an event based on literature, art and music all centered around the book – Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.
Four new large scale paintings were installed in the gallery and Andrea Guzzoletti played live to an enthusiastic audience as the doors of the gallery were opened for one hour, one minute and one second during the inauguration.
The endless work in progress carries on.
This evening at the Barga Jazz Club, Andrea once more offered a version of the Invisible Cities, this time with voice of Federica Bedini reading passages from the book.
painter and photographer - started barganews.com, the first on line news site in Tuscany, Italy back in 1996