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La Monnaie / De Munt LA MONNAIE / DE MUNT

Rivoluzione

Synopsis

Sébastien Herbecq
Reading time
6 min.

Italy, late 1960s. Growing social tensions are spreading across Europe, and a group of young friends gets caught up in the protest movements. As the revolution pursues its own unpredictable dynamics, personal conflicts too grow between the men and women on the barricades — with explosive consequences... Read the synopsis of Rivoluzione, the first part of a new Verdi diptych.

Characters

Laura is the daughter of the Chief of Police and Giuseppe’s sister. Having grown up in a comfortably-off family, Laura is now studying the violin at the conservatoire. She is in a relationship with Lorenzo, but also feels a strong attraction for Carlo. Though at first she supports non-violent action, later on she exhorts the students and workers to adopt a more radical stance and becomes the figurehead of the revolution.

Carlo works at the shipyard. He is an amateur boxer and from a working-class background. He urges the workers to join the student protest.

Lorenzo is studying jazz piano at the same conservatoire as his girlfriend Laura. He is very involved in politics and in favour of violent action.

Cristina is completing her film studies. For her thesis, she is making a documentary about the students’ and workers’ protest. She is in a relationship with Giuseppe, but has had an affair with Carlo.

Giuseppe is studying engineering at the polytechnic and he is also an amateur boxer. He is Laura’s brother and the son of the Chief of Police, whose example he tries to follow. He is on a work placement at the shipyard where Carlo works and in a steady relationship with Cristina.

ACT ONE – THE UNIVERSITY

For the final-year project in her film studies course, Cristina is making a documentary about the students’ and workers’ protest of the time. She films the street demonstrations herself and interviews a number of people, asking each of them the same question: “What will be left of you after your time?” The first to answer is none other than her boyfriend, Giuseppe.

Cristina (Gabriela Legun)
Cristina (Gabriela Legun) © Simon Van Rompay

Students occupy a lecture hall at the university in protest against the wars raging on various continents, particularly in Vietnam and Algeria. Lorenzo, who is highly committed to the cause, criticizes the hypocrisy of government and the police repression. He urges violent action, but is criticized by his girlfriend Laura, also a student at the conservatoire. The young woman tempers the fervour of the activists and calls for non-violent protest. She is pleased that the shipyard workers have joined the protest movement, thanks to the intervention of the young and charismatic Carlo. Students and workers are now united in the struggle. Lorenzo is envious of Carlo’s influence: could this commanding figure steal Laura’s heart? In an attempt to head Carlo off, Lorenzo tries to persuade Laura’s brother Giuseppe to allow him to marry her. However, Giuseppe refuses to get involved in his sister’s love life. Finding themselves alone, Lorenzo and Laura quarrel. When Laura admits that she has had an affair with Carlo, Lorenzo’s jealousy is further inflamed.

Carlo (Enea Scala)
Carlo (Enea Scala) © Simon Van Rompay

While on work placement at the shipyard, Giuseppe meets Carlo. The two young men become friends, buoyed by their shared passion for boxing. They vow to fight side by side. The shipyard workers join them and all toast their imminent victory. The jollity is interrupted by the brutal intervention of the police at the occupied university. Numerous students are arrested, and so is Carlo. General confusion descends.

ACT TWO – THE STREET

Giuseppe tells Cristina that he cannot find Carlo. He heard shouting and rifle shots during the commotion and so thinks that Carlo was shot by the police. Cristina is badly shaken by this news, which surprises Giuseppe. He had no idea that Carlo and Cristina knew each other well; he, too, is racked by jealousy.

Lorenzo (Justin Hopkins)
Lorenzo (Justin Hopkins) © Simon Van Rompay

Laura still has no news of Carlo and even though her father is the Chief of Police, no information is forthcoming. She cannot put out of her mind the traces of blood she saw on the street. Was it Carlo’s blood? While her father celebrates with leading politicians, Laura blames society and mourns the probable death of the man she loves. Her lamentation is interrupted by a student who comes to say that Carlo is alive. The young woman is ecstatic and Lorenzo, who observed the scene from a distance, is consumed by jealousy.

The good news about Carlo spreads quickly among the demonstrators and they express their delight by breaking into song. Shortly afterwards, Carlo joins them, trying to conceal the fact that, in exchange for his freedom, he made a pact with the Chief of Police, Laura and Giuseppe’s father. He was promised a helping hand in his career if he broke off his affair with Laura. He agreed to the deal. Giuseppe welcomes his friend but discretely reveals his double agenda: he would have preferred to see Carlo dead, thereby removing the threat to his relationship with Cristina.

Giuseppe (Vittorio Prato)
Giuseppe (Vittorio Prato) © Simon Van Rompay

Laura notices that Carlo has become much more distant since his arrest. She decides to turn the page and focus entirely on the revolution, even if in so doing she risks being disloyal to her father. She is now convinced that only violent action can change anything. That belief has been strengthened by visions in which well-known revolutionaries from the past invite her to join them and become the leader of the movement. Laura accepts her fate during a prophetic dream, and nobody seems able to deter her from fulfilling this new mission.

ACT THREE - THE BARRICADE

Giuseppe has decided to go and work for the police and now appears in uniform. He feels that his relationship with Cristina is hanging by a thread. Once again he declares his love, but she rejects him. Just as Giuseppe is about to use violence against her, Carlo appears. A fierce argument breaks out between the two men. When the demonstrators learn that Carlo has made a pact with the police, they make an end to the argument and curse their former leader.

Laura sets out her radical political views in a manifesto: only urban guerrilla action can destroy the apparatus of state control. Carlo, who is more moderate in his political thinking, no longer recognizes Laura. Now that she is prepared to commit acts of terrorism, he feels betrayed by her.

Laura (Nino Machaidze)
Laura (Nino Machaidze) © Simon Van Rompay

The demonstrators on a barricade, who include Cristina and Lorenzo, cannot believe their eyes when they see Giuseppe on the side of the police. Laura constructs an explosive device and hides it in her violin case. With the other protestors at her side, who see her as a role model, she prepares to carry out her mission. Suddenly a huge explosion destroys the barricade.

Laura’s spirit now rests with well-known revolutionaries from the past.

Translation: Alison Mouthaan