Claudio Guarino

By Verzotti, Giorgio | Artforum International, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Claudio Guarino


Verzotti, Giorgio, Artforum International


ARTRA

Continuing with his methodology of melodrama and reinterpretation, Claudio Guarino has dedicated an exhibition to the century-old opera Tosca. But there was no trace of Puccini's music, for the artist chose instead to play with the narrative content of the libretto. The show consisted of a ten-minute video, The Kiss of Tosca, and two other works (all 2000) in which the characters in the drama are reduced to two, Tosca herself and the evil Scarpia, played by two extremely talented English actors, Haver Chasen and Terence Brown. Tosca, decidedly older here, asks Scarpia the fate of her lover, Cavaradossi. The nefarious Scarpia reveals that he has imprisoned and tortured him and will free him only if Tosca accedes to his wishes. Tosca apparently accepts, but suddenly stabs and kills Scarpia, at the end murmuring, in English, the famous phrase "and this is the man before whom all the city trembled." The drama, thus condensed by Guarino, takes on the ambiguity of a fundamentally sexual tragedy by Tennessee William s, where the protagonist becomes the Love-hate relationship between a man and a woman whose lover, marginal to the narrative, is merely the pretext for unleashing that dynamic. The heroic Cavaradossi seems completely extraneous to the entire event, appearing for only a few seconds in which he cries out--from pain or something else?--as he is whipped by a sexy, macho figure clad in leather.

Guarino superimposes a second interpretation on the familiar story, utilizing Brechtian alienation devices. …

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