A ballade of rebellion and erotism that dramatically grows like a memory storm: from the loose initial drops its fury increases up to a climax of a blustery violence before returning to a calm and muggy summer afternoon.
Hanna Arendt wrote to his friend Hermann Broch that “the ballade of Zerline is one of the greatest love stories I have ever encountered”.
Born in Vienna in 1896 to a Jewish family, the Austrian writer escaped Nazi persecution in 1935 by migrating to Great Britain and then to the USA , also thanks to the help of his friend James Joyce.
This short novel by Broch – who is considered one of the most important modernist writers – begins in an aristocratic interior in the middle of the last century, but very soon transforms into a timeless place. Zerline, a maid, narrates with implacable intensity the tale of an erotic passion and the subsequent desire for revenge, soon moving away from Mozartian references to evoke the atmosphere of certain libertine writings of the XVII century.
Since the 1980s the short story – which was published in the book “The innocents” in 1949 – has been staged many times, but the most memorable version remains the one by Klaus Michael Gruber with Jeanne Moreau in 1986, to which this production would like to pay tribute.
Zerline is now Adriana Asti, an icon of Italian theatre who always seeks new adventures to surprise herself and her audience. No other actress like her would be able to bring on stage the history of Italian cinema and theatre of the second half of the XX century. Only Adriana Asti may narrate with humour and lightness to have performed for Visconti, Pasolini Buñuel, Bertolucci, Strehler, Ronconi and Wilson.
Lucinda Childs is Asti’s artistic teammate in this artistic endeavour; internationally known as dancer and choreographer, co-author with Robert Wilson and Philip Glass of the seminal opera “Einstein on the beach” – she has always looked at the contemporary theatre as a creative crossover of words, music and movement. In this performance she is meeting her deep-routed vocation, but also performs on stage to embody the silent ghosts evoked by Zerline.
Pat Steir, queen of American avantguard, joins Adriana and Lucinda to cast a magic spell on Zerline’s Ballad and turn it into an universal and timeless story: her stage design abandons any link with the reality and create a metaphysical space made by multiple rainfall projections. The American artist, known for her waterfalls, wraps the Zerline’s memory storm of in her suggestive minimalism, thanks also to the music mosaic composed by Philp Glass, Laurie Anderson and others.