L'Impero Ritorna – The Empire Returns

for Viola and 8-Channel Tape, 1999

(a small village)
A musician sits on stage and hears the messages from his answering machine.
A large space surrounds him.
He – the recipient of information – hears the message:

Castel Giorgio is a small place West of Orvieto, resting unobtrusively behind Umbria at the border of the region of Latium. It is in this forgotten area where the New Rome is to be built. Or, more precisely, the Old Rome: Roma Vetus.
The city council of Castel Giorgio approved a project by which the center of antique Rome would be reconstructed in fiberglass and polyester over an area of 360 hectares. In full scale. The Circus Maximus alone would seat 20,000 people. A gigantic amusement park, in which one could imagine complete temples, whereas only the stumps of coulmns stand there in reality. A Colosseum without danger of collapsing and with gladiator fights, the residential quarter of Suburra with authentic stores, the Forum of Trajan with appearances of the Emperor and sacrifices – Rome, as it once was.
News – the same message in many different languages – circles in his head.
a new Rom ... made of fiberglass & polyester
The musician hears hammering, announcing that the construction has begun. In his inner eye, the imperial spledour unfolds like a Hollywood film of the 60's. Simulated history on celluloid. Pompous, intoxicating, permanent. Media records the past. Simulation replaces experience. The real world disappears – forever.
    Speak up! Let the world hear you!
    Let the heart of the empire grow with us
    Let us grow ever bigger, ever greater!
    Let the world know That Rom will not die!
    Let us grow ever bigger, ever greater!
    There are millions – waiting at our gates.
The piece combines contemplative improvisations with composed preconditions, pre-recorded noises and virtual film sequences. Thus, inimitable quality of individual musicianship is structured and contextualized from without. Associations are set free and – unwillingly – branch out.
Mass scenes found in this work evoke pictures of recent world history – the rise and fall of political empires.
    How does an empire die?
    Does it collapse in one terrible moment?
    No! No, but there comes the time
    When it‘s people no longer believe in it
    Then, then does an empire begin to die.
In the musician's mind, the media amusement park becomes a political playground, where battles are fought today:
the same message in many different languages – recognizable by all: "Panis et circensis", "Brot und Spiele", "bread and games" with appearances of the Emperor and sacrifices.
And he, the musician, is sitting on the stage – part of the global spectacle.