Berlin, August 2012
From my very first drafts I settle quite clearly on some main principles: a perfect combination of comedy and tragedy, an ulissean journey with very strong contrasts, and God forbid, I say to myself, do not go changing Ibsen’s main structure.
No starting from the end and finishing in the beginning. No big cuts and no going too far from the play’s roots. I will re-write Ibsen powerfully enough for opera, and I do not have to start doing so from its structure.
The secret of an excellent opera is its libretto. Music too, of course, but even the best composers will not be able to fix mediocre or lukewarm librettos. Even with the greatest music opera will not touch the unattainable summits, beyond words or libraries full of works of philosophers, which the best operas do.
Libretto also gives the rhythm to the opera. If the libretto does not breathe, the opera will not breathe. All the rhythm, and therefore all the dialogue, has to be written in, like music. In opera, libretto and music cannot be separated from each other.
So from the beginning on I decide, four massive scenes: the wedding, the journey in magic, and in the real world, the return to the homesteads – filled with characters of unimaginable phantasy. So. My cornerstones. The building can start.
From the end of August to the beginning of October I am on Via Francigena, the pilgrim route from Canterbury to Rome. On halfway, without planning, I suddenly remember – Peer Gynt was written by Ibsen in Italy. I am unexpectedly home.