Manfred is the eco-drama of our existence, the spirit of our age, the humanity bitten by itself, staggering in a storm of gloomy howls, the background of an imminent apocalypse.
It is a visual-audio image, which throws us in a post-romantic mal du siècle, surrounded by a heavily dark aura made of darkness, agonizing frequencies and metallic clashes, pierced by melancholic melodies evoking ancient memories of Beauty.
Written in 1816, the year of a global climate crisis that led to investigate and rethink the relationship between humans and Nature, Manfred gives life to a multifaceted reflection. An avant- garde ecological, spiritual and existential reflection that approaches a kind of post-romantic mal du siècle. Byron revolts against the romantic concept of Nature generating a non orthodox environmental awareness, a skeptical one.
Nature as a contemplative-aesthetic experience is not enough anymore. Thus Manfred takes the form of an eco-drama, where the human being and the natural forces are agents of an ambiguous relationship, made of fusion and separation, in dialogue but in conflict.
The mistrust towards the interrelationship between the human world and the natural environment arises from the idea that human consciousness is an embodied community of creatures. And this idea determines Manfred’s thoughts and actions.
There’s no expiation, there’s only one revealed guilt, and the pain of living in a time that seems to be marked by an inexorable fate. An inevitable condition that also represents a ‘way of freedom from the bonds of the human condition’”1.
Manfred is a humanity stuck in the conflict between matter and spirit, in the loneliness between the sky and the earth, isolated in a border area dominated by uncertainty.
Half dust half deity. Noise and symphony. This is the combined essence of the human being, who constantly lives the contrast of renounce and attachment to the Earth, the desire to forget and of being forgotten, giving up or being saved.
In 1816 the Anthropocene was at the beginning but Manfred seems to be at the edge of its decline, at its ultimate act, where besides to the climate crisis and the environmental catastrophe there’s the epidemic uncertainty expanding in every field of existence.
Manfred embodies the spirit of our age in the disgust, in the aesthetic indigestion, in the grief, in the irremediable love, in the solid despair, in the “cogito ridden by anguish”.2
According to Byron’s will, Manfred is “impossible to perform”; it was created for a mental theatre, for an internalized reading, an individual experience.
Manfred invites us to be intellectually involved, it is the mirror of an imaginary projection, it is voice with no voice and no body, it assumes shapes visually non-identifiables.
It is a subtraction in favor of synesthesia: if a possibility of redemption exists, this is the ability to stand on one’s own strength, the power of individual imagination. Growing a seed of hope in the land of nothing, where ancient melodies resound from far away.
I was my own destroyer,
And will be my own hereafter.
— Manfred - Act III, scena 4
1. Diego Saglia, Tormento e ribellione nel teatro della mente, George G. Byron Manfred, Letteratura universale Marsilio.
2. T. Morton, Byron’s Manfred and Ecocriticism, Palgrave Advances in Byron Studies (pp.155-170).
madalena reversa is an artistic project, created in 2016 by Maria Alterno and Richard Pareschi based in Padua (Italy), which blends theater, visual arts, performance and installations. Their works have been presented in festivals and venues such as: Triennale Milano, Biennale di Venezia, Santarcangelo Festival, Short Theatre. "The emotional power of a light, a sound, an object, a body on set has always been what we’ve been mostly attracted to of theatre. Our creations intend experimenting, through a planned combination of elements (lights, sounds, design), atmospheres that release a certain emotion. Our artistic experimentations are located in a grey area between theatre and visual arts, between performance and installation, where the only essential element is dramaturgy". madalena reversa has been recently selected by “Crossing the sea”, a long term-strategy project that aims to establish connection and cooperation between the performing art sector in Italy and in the Middle East and Asiatic countries.
Since 2016 madalena reversa has produced the following works: Talking of Michelangelo (2016), Blank Composition: The White Girl (2017), Dreaming Beauty (2018), Baue Blume (2019), Romantic Disaster (2020), Manfred (2022).