• April 27 –August 22, 2022

    Opera Opera

    Allegro ma non troppo. Contemporary Art from the MAXXI Collection

With Opera Opera. Allegro ma non troppo, the PalaisPopulaire is showcasing an art form that is as controversial as it is beloved—and an elementary aspect of Italian culture. Opera, whose name derives from the Italian word for “work,” is a theatrical genre in constant flux that has always staged the process of creation, work, and doing through imagination and creativity. Opera reflects the drama of life and unites all kinds of disciplines, from music to poetry, from design to choreography, from painting to acting, film, and performance. Conceived by MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome and featuring thirty protagonists of international art, the show pays homage to opera from the perspective of contemporary visual art and architecture. A wide selection of significant artworks from the MAXXI Collection unfold to the public like the plot of a musical performance that fills the entire space and transforms the PalaisPopulaire on Unter den Linden boulevard into a real artwork.

Opera Opera is a Gesamtkunstwerk, a total and open work of art, a fruitful place for artistic and interdisciplinary encounters capable of addressing theatre and the representation of the self and the world. In this sense, the invited artists reflect on the staging and on the representation of the drama of life. They investigate topics such as the body and its perception, the performativity of the artistic gesture, the spatial experience of sound, the theatre of the everyday, the masking of reality.

To give substance to this narrative, the MAXXI Collection—which is enriched by two new works commissioned expressly for this show—is transformed from a static body into a productive process of experimentation and evolution, opening up to an enlightening dialogue with its Berlin host and staging a collection that is not only a memory but, on the contrary, a present-day performance. In this renewed narrative, the PalaisPopulaire’s exhibition space also take on new names and new meanings, from Backstage (Gallery 2) to Prelude (Gallery 1) to Theatre of the Everyday (Gallery 3), to Stage (Terrace), thematic sections that, evoking a theatrical and scenographic dimension, host experiential and performance works, photography and video installations, architectural models and archival materials.

Opera Opera opens up a perspective of European collaboration, in which the powerful artistic exchange that has enriched the cultural souls of Germany and Italy since the Grand Tour is recounted in the exhibition through a shared narrative of peoples and nations.

Opera Opera is a sensory journey that envelops the visitor in its sound environments; a journey capable of recreating contemplative dimensions, eclectic situations, dynamic and participatory spaces where the boundary between art and life, between staging and reality, becomes subtle; it is a total and inclusive exhibition that unites different places and eras and offers a conciliatory reinterpretation of art and theatre as instruments of regeneration in a geopolitical key, all the more useful given the uncertain spirit of our times. This restless uncertainty is also reflected in the subtitle, Allegro ma non troppo. In music indicative of speed, Allegro ma non troppo refers to the identity and cultural combination of tragedy and comedy: it is the tragedy of life and the tragedy of the present, the difficulty of facing today while maintaining an optimistic outlook on the future.

With poetry and audacity, beauty and irony, Opera Opera raises the curtain on collective history and our everyday lives, paying homage to the dramas and joys of life, allegro, ma non troppo

In co-operation with the MAXXI, Rome

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Artists

Rosa Barba, Vanessa Beecroft, Justin Bennett, Carlo Benvenuto, Monica Bonvicini, Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Chen Zhen, Enzo Cucchi, Jimmie Durham, Domenico Gnoli, William Kentridge, H.H. Lim, Armin Linke, Living Theatre, Diego Marcon, Fabio Mauri, Liliana Moro, Maurizio Nannucci, Olaf Nicolai, Luigi Ontani, Susan Philipsz, Renzo Piano, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Philippe Rahm, Aldo Rossi, Michele Sacripanti, Marinella Senatore, Grazia Toderi, Vedovamazzei, Francesco Venezia, Luca Vitone, Kara Walker

Stage Image: Michelangelo Pistoletto, Quadro di fili elettrici, 1967. Image Courtesy Fondazione Maxxi, Photo: Patrizia Tocci © Michelangelo Pistoletto