Pappano, Bollani and Lisette Oropesa on Rai5 interpret Bernstein’s musical


There is the world of musical at the center of the episode of the “Flight of the bumblebee” by Damiano Michieletto, which Rai Cultura broadcasts on Rai5 for the first TV viewing on Thursday 4 June at 7pm. Michieletto focuses on one of the greatest masterpieces of the genre: West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein.

United States of America, 1957. We are in the midst of the cold war, under the nightmare of the atomic bomb. And America turns out to be burnt like James Dean, rock & roll like Elvis Presley, a vagabond, restless and mystical like Jack Kerouac, who published his novel On the road in that fateful 1957.

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And that very year he made his Broadway West Side Story debut. For some time the composer Leonard Bernstein and the director Jerome Robbins designed this musical. They did not think of a show like any other, but of a show that told a tragic historian, using the techniques of the musical.

They were thus inspired by the most famous love story of all time: William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, setting it in a New York ghetto. The Montecchi and Capuleti families are not facing each other, but two enemy gangs: the Jets, made up of white boys, and the Sharks, their Puerto Rican peers.

Maria and Tony, divided by gangs and different ethnicity, are the protagonists of the throbbing and inevitably mournful love story. The first guest of the episode is the great conductor Antonio Pappano, who in 2018 directed West Side Story for the opening of the Santa Cecilia symphonic season.

Pappano tells about his passion for this masterpiece and Bernstein’s genius, his past as an immigrant in the seventies and the sense of music for human beings. Damiano Michieletto then meets the pianist Stefano Bollani, a great lover of musicals, a genre that he paid homage to with his latest album Piano Variations on Jesús Christ Superstar.

Bollani focuses on the value of the mix between genres and on the profound meaning of improvisation and fun in artistic creations.

Also the Cuban-born American soprano Lisette Oropesa, who gives an unexpected singing performance, and the Hebel Chamber Choir singing Maria and Mambo !, two of the most famous West Side Story pieces, arranged by Maestro Alessandro Cadario, directs the choir, and enhanced by the percussion of Simone Rubino.

The episode ends with a piece by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet recited by actor Alessio Vassallo. “The flight of the bumblebee”, produced by Rai Cultura and broadcast by Rai5, is written and conducted by Damiano Michieletto with the collaboration of Francesco D’Arma and Marta Teodoro, with the editorial coordination of Anna Lisa Guglielmi and the direction of Stefania Grimaldi. Executive producer Elena Beccalli.


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