La storia del soldato [The Soldier's Tale], Igor Stravinsky's musical theater piece with a libretto by Charles Ramuz, is a new production of the Figli d'Arte Cuticchio, the noted Sicilian puppetry company, that will debut at Dartmouth College on Tuesday, April 18 (there will be two additional performances on Wednesday, April 19). Stravinsky's work is a poetic reflection on the relationship between human desire, war, and time. Mimmo Cuticchio – master puppeteer and founder of the company – has created a new version of the piece, to be performed in Italian (with projected English supertitles), whose protagonists will be Sicilians puppets. Filippo Ciabatti, Director of the Dartmouth Orchestra, will conduct the small instrumental ensemble called for in Stravinsky's score, spare but striking music that draws on Russian, Yiddish, and German Lutheran traditions. The story, inspired by a Russian folk tale, is a variation on the Faust legend in which the young soldier-violinist Joseph succumbs to the lure of the Devil, who promises him untold riches. The inner life of the soldier takes shape in a dream-like dimension that probes the emotional and social mechanisms that drive human beings to surrender to the lure of ambition. Conceived in 1918, just as World War I was coming to an end and while the Spanish Flu pandemic spread throughout the world, Stravinsky's powerful musical fable speaks directly to our own historical moment.
In addition to performances of La storia del soldato, there will also be a discussion and screening of the film produced by the Figli d'Arte Cuticchio in 2021 based on a theatrical piece created for the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri's death, Sulle vie dell'inferno [On the Pathways of Hell], in Loew Auditorium, Black Family Visual Arts Center, April 16, 7:00 pm.