WERBA AND THE SPIRIT OF COMEDY
There is something constantly repeated in Italian music since Giacomo Puccini’s era: Drama’s tragic sense, that extreme theatrical mood blown out of proportion in the operas from the Lucca-born master. Likewise, Italian music in the last decades has shown an irreverent ability to describe Drama’s comical sense. Many times, this tragicomic, buffo style takes the form of the canzone napoletana, used frequently in Italian cinema as instrumental music. These little pieces, with their nonchalant rhythm,their fun, cool tone and their teasing melodies,have been used by composers such as Morricone, Rota or Piovani in many of their works. The tragicomic feeling, the ironic scheme, is part of the DNA of a land of craftsmen which has mapped the cinema music for the last decades, making of this sensitivity a distinctive mark and defining a whole generation of composers and filmmakers. This certificate of origin musicalidentity is more recognisable in comedy than in tragedy, and it shapes up the essence of this musical subgenre.
Marco Werba is one of the most representative composers of this neoclassical generation of musicians, fighting singled-handedly (orchestration, narrative, dramatic style) against the American musical trends which, with globalisation, have arrived successfully upon these shores. The comedy Made in China Napoletano takes part in this fight, a quixotic defense led with idle stomach and offensive tongue. It is produced by Simone Schettino, using all the musical elements of the classical Italian showbiz industry, to tell a story full of irony. In the director’s own words:
We Neapolitans represent the last stance against globalisation…We must keep our traditions and reassess our roots, as well as preserve Napoli’s food and farmland excellence, as our city has been badly mistreated for too many years. The film intends to offer the public an ironic and careful look on how to get away from any stereotype.
Marco Werba’s music develops in Schettino’s harsh, fun approach, his score presenting skillfully that spirit of Comedy only Italians know how to portray. Be it through the canzone or the tarantella(traditional folk music tunes), Werba’s music helps sketch the character’s satirical, surreal outlines as they wander histrionically through this very Italian tale, playing guitars, flutes, mandolins and clarinets. The brashness of the proposition intertwines with a delicate oriental character, represented by an Asian rival, offering counterpoint and balance to the story. Schettino uses, alongside Werba’s music, a handful of themes by other composers (Megan Mcduffee, Filippo del Moro and Thomas Gaultieri) reinforcing Made in China Napoletano’s comical spirit and, eventually, defining the Italian music of the last decades.
Marco Werba manages, through his dynamic, casual melodies, to enhance that spirit of Comedy embedded in Simone Schettino’s work, making it a storyauthentically made the Italian way…