Luca Ronconi, la continua ricerca, a journey in words and images through the more than 30 shows produced from 1999 to 2015 click here
Luca Ronconi was born on the 8th of March 1933 in Susa (Tunisia).
He graduated from the Accademia d’Arte Drammatica (Academy of Dramatic Art) in Rome in 1953 and worked as an actor with leading roles in shows by directors such as Luigi Squarzina, Orazio Costa and Michelangelo Antonioni. His first experiences as a director began in 1963 for the Gravina/Occhini/Pani/Ronconi/Volonté Company, where he oversaw the staging of La Buona Moglie, the merging of two texts by Goldoni, The Honourable Maid and The Good Wife, into one show.
In 1996 he staged The Changeling by Middleton and Rowley and was hailed by the critics as one of the leading members of the Italian theatrical vanguard. The show that raised him to international stardom was Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (1969), in the abridged version by Sanguineti, an extraordinary theatrical event that was excellently received during its Italian tour, and was an international success.
From 1975 until 1977, he was the director of the Theatre Section of the Venice Biennale and between 1977 and 1979 he founded and directed the Laboratorio di progettazione teatrale (Workshop on devising theatre) in Prato.
During the seventies he staged numerous memorable shows, including XX from Wilcock (1971), Oresteia by Aeschylus (1972), Utopia from Aristophanes (1976) and, for the workshop in Prato, The Bacchae by Euripides (1977) and The Tower by von Hofmannsthal (1978).
The 1980s saw a number of milestone productions in Ronconi’s journey of research, which were also considered to be undisputed high points in the history of post-war Italian theatre: Ignorabimus by Holz (1986), Les Dialogues des Carmélites by Bernanos (1988) and Chekhov’s Three Sisters (1989).
From 1989 until 1994 he was director of the Turin repertory theatre, where, in 1992, he founded and directed the “Scuola per attori” (the acting school). In 1990, during his tenure as director of the theatre, he directed Strange Interlude by O’Neill, The Difficult Man by von Hofmannsthal and The Last Days of Mankind by Kraus. This last production was staged in the vast space of the FIAT factory machine room in the “Lingotto” in Turin, the high point of that year’s theatrical season.
In April 1994, he was nominated as director of the Teatro di Roma, where he directed a number of very challenging shows such as Shakespeare’s King Lear, Verso “Peer Gynt” from the Ibsen play of the same name (1995), Gadda’s That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana (1996) and The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky (1998).
In January 1999 he became Consultanto to the Director of the Piccolo Teatro di Milano and the director of The Piccolo Theatre School.
To kick-off his work at the theatre he staged Calderón de La Barca’s Life is a Dream and Strindberg’s A Dream Play in the winter of 2000. During the 2000-2001 season, he directed Lolita: A Screenplay by Nabokov, The Two Venetian Twins by Goldoni and Candelaio by Bruno; whilst the next season, he staged What Maisie Knew by Henry James and Infinities by the mathematician Barrow.
In the summer of 2002, in the Greek Theatre of Syracuse, he staged the trilogy Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, The Bacchae by Euripides and The Frogs by Aristophanes (later staged also at the Teatro Strehler in Milan).
That same year, with the staging in Ferrara of Amor nello specchio by Andreini, saw the opening of the Centro Teatrale Santacristina, a production and educational entity founded by Ronconi with Roberto Carlotto and which he still directs today in the purpose-built structure in the Gubbio valley.
The following summer he was at the Teatro Farnese in Parma with the production of 'Tis Pity She's a Whore by Ford (later hosted by the Teatro Studio in Milan).
For Genova Capitale Europea della Cultura 2004 (European Capital of Culture in 2004), he directed The Centaur by Andreini. In 2005 he staged Diario Privato by Léautaud, with Giorgio Albertazzi and Anna Proclemer, after which he directed Professor Bernhardi, produced by the Piccolo.
For the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, he was invited to direct five shows that paid tribute to the Olympic symbol: Troilus and Cressida by Shakespeare, The War Plays (a trilogy by Edward Bond), Biblioetica: dizionario per l'uso by Corbellini, Donghi and Massarenti (codirected with Claudio Longhi), Il silenzio dei comunisti by Foa, Mafai and Reichlin and Lo specchio del diavolo by Giorgio Ruffolo. Moreover, in January 2007, for the three hundredth anniversary of Goldoni’s birth, he staged the comedy The Fan at the Teatro Strehler. Later, again at the Piccolo, he staged Plucked from the Air or The Affairs of Baron Laborde by Hermann Broch.
For the 2007 edition of the Salone del Libro in Turin, he presented Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In September 2007, in Ferrara, the project “Odissea doppio ritorno” made its debut: a diptych consisting of L’antro delle Ninfe, from Homer and Porphyry and Ithaka by Botho Strauss (2007). In June 2008 he began collaborating with the Festival dei Due Mondi di Spoleto by presenting several “Lessons” on Ibsen’s dramaturgy. In September 2008, in Umbria, he opened the Teatro Cucinelli in Solomeo with Nel bosco degli spiriti, based on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, a fable by the Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola, adapted for the theatre by Cesare Mazzonis and with live music by Ludovico Einaudi.
In June 2009, the collaboration with Spoleto continued with a study on Chekhov’s The Seagull entitled Un altro gabbiano. His latest productions at the Piccolo Teatro have been: the two Shakespearean plays A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2008) and The Merchant of Venice (2009), the comedy It’s Only the End of the World by the contemporary French author Jean-Luc Lagarce, Sweet Days of Discipline by Fleur Jaeggy (2010), Edward Bond’s In the Company of Men (2011) and Saint Joan of the Stockyards (2012), his first experience with the theatre of Bertolt Brecht. He also dedicated a project to the contemporary Argentinian playwright Rafael Spregelburd, with the staging of Modesty (2011) and Panic (2013). In 2014 he directed Celestina laggiù vicino alle concerie in riva al fiume (Célestine là-bas près des tanneries au bord de la rivière) by Michel Garneau, from Fernando de Rojas and Pornografia by Witold Gombrowicz (2014). His last production at the Piccolo is Lehman Trilogy by Stefano Massini (2015).
Since 2010, he has been working on a three-year project, created thanks to the collaboration between the Centro Teatrale Santacristina and the Accademia Nazionale d’Arte Drammatica “Silvio d’Amico”: the cycles of summer workshops, held at the headquarters of the School with graduating 3rd year acting students terminated in July 2012 at the Festival di Spoleto, with the staging of In Cerca d’autore. Studio sui “Sei personaggi”, a study on Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author. The show was also featured in the 2012/2013 season at the Piccolo Teatro. For the Genova Repertory Theatre, he staged Nora alla prova da “Casa di Bambola”, from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (2011).
As operatic director, he has worked on the “classics” of Italian Opera, like: Nabucco, 1977, and Trovatore, 1977 by Verdi; Norma by Bellini, 1978; Macbeth, 1980, Traviata, 1982 and Aida, 1985, by Verdi; and Tosca by Puccini, 1997 and European Opera, such as Carmen by Bizet, 1970; Das Rheingold by Wagner, 1979; Don Giovanni by Mozart, 1990 and 1999; Lohengrin again by Wagner in 1999. Ronconi additionally carried out an interesting study on the less visited areas of musical theatre, such as the great period of Italian Baroque Music (L’Orfeo by Rossi, 1985; L’Orfeo and Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria by Monteverdi, both in 1998; L’incoronazione di Poppea by Monteverdi, 2000) as well as contemporary operas (The Makropulos Affair by Janácek, 1993; The Turn of the Screw by Britten, 1995; Teorema by Battistelli, 1996; Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss, 2000). The encounter with Rossini’s musical theatre was a particularly happy one: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1975), Moïse et Pharaon ou le passage de la Mer Rouge (1983), Il viaggio a Reims (1984), William Tell (1988), Ricciardo e Zoraide (1990), Armida (1993), La Cenerentola (1998), and La donna del lago (2001). He also directed Lear by Reimann for the Regio di Torino (2001), Giulio Cesare by Händel (Madrid, 2002), a new version of Moïse et Pharaon by Rossini (Teatro alla Scala – Arcimboldi, 2003),Alfonso und Estrella by Schubert (Cagliari, 2004), L’Europa riconosciuta by Salieri (for the reopening of La Scala in December 2004) and Il barbiere di Siviglia (Pesaro, 2005).
His most recent opera productions include: Verdi's Falstaff in 2006, at the Maggio Musicale FIorentino, the "nude" Turandot in 2007 for the opening of the season of the Teatro Regio di Torino, the Puccini triptych at Milan's La Scala (2008, staged again at the Opéra in Paris, in October 2010), and the revival of Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims at La Scala (2009). His production of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito was staged for the reopening of the historic Teatro San Carlo di Napoli (January 2010) after its renovation. For the same theatre, in November 2011, he staged Rossini's Semiramide, and for the two hundredth anniversary of Verdi's birth, he staged Falstaff for the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari. In 2014 he staged Armida at Rossini Opera Festival.
Luca Ronconi is also an exhibition curator. The exhibition Anton Van Dyck-Riflessi Italiani was inaugurated on February 2004, at Milan's Palazzo Reale. In September 2006, he was curator of the evocative exhibition Cina. Nascita di un Impero at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome. In 2008, first for Rome, at the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia, and later for Berlin, at the Gemäldegalerie, he curated the exhibition dedicated to Sebastiano Del Piombo. In September 2009 he worked on the exhibition Roma. La pittura di un Impero, showcased in the rooms of the Scuderia del Quirinale. Finally, he curated the exhibition La bella Italia. Arte e identità delle città capitali, presented in the Juvarriane stables of La Venaria Reale in Turin, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy (2011).
He has received numerous prizes and recognitions including the VI Premio Europa per il Teatro di Taormina Arte (Europe Prize for the Teatro di Taormina Arte) (April 1998); the UBU Prize for best show of the season for “Progetto Sogno” in 2000, for Lolita in 2001, for Infinities in 2002, for Professor Bernhardi in 2005, for “Progetto Domani” in 2006 and for Panic in 2013. More recently, he was awarded the Premio Nazionale della Critica (Critic’s National Award) for his “Progetto Lagarce” and the ETI Prize for best show forA Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In 2008 he received the “Antonio Feltrinelli” Prize for direction by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. He has received honorary degrees from the Universities of Bologna (1999), Perugia (2003), Urbino (2006) and Venice (2012). On August 2012, within the Theatre section of La Biennale, he was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.
He died in Milan on 21 February 2015