Rock opera. Easy to say, but what does it actually mean? What kind of music will we be listening to, as we retrace the last 14 years of Nero's life? Within the context of such a huge production, dreaming up the music best suited to accompany the torments of the young Emperor, as he is torn between the machinations of power and his passion for art, is certainly a challenge. Ernesto Migliacci, son of the screenwriter Franco Migliacci, is in charge of Artistic Production for the show, and imagines Nero as the first singer-songwriter in history, and from the way he is described by the historians, a veritable rock-star, ahead of his time.
"We thought about what kind of songs Nero could sing, from a musical point of view among other things," says Ernesto Migliacci. After all, Nero wrote, played and sang his own music. The musical pieces will feature world influences (let’s not forget that the Roman Empire at the time stretched from Britain to Egypt, and from Lusitania to Armenia), with orchestral and electronic interludes and more rock-driven moments." Migliacci and his team of composers can count on the talent of Giorgio Adamo, the actor and singer who will be playing Nero, and who has been a member of a number of rock cover bands in the past (Deep Purple above all).
The lights and shadows of a character as complex and conflicted as Nero are echoed through symphonic rock. Rock music will serve to mark moments of great change or conflict, as in everyday life, or on recordings by leading artists. For the most epic scenes, the symphonic element will come to the fore. Our reference point here is great motion picture soundtracks, like of “Gladiator”, with a sound that works extremely well when paired with historical settings of this kind.
The band Queen, and above all legendary frontman and singer Freddie Mercury, serve as a particularly good example of the way in which these two aspects are united. Indeed, Migliacci and all of the other composers working on the piece found themselves spontaneously agreeing on this: "A character like this contains some of the power, strength and ambiguity of Freddie Mercury – he would have been a formidable Nero."
Behind the composition of the music for such a complex show is an enormous amount of work for the team, who base their efforts on the ideas and scripts provided by Franco Migliacci. "My father Franco wrote the lyrics and then summoned us - five or six composers – and said to us: "In this song I want to express this thought, this feeling, to transmit these emotions." We all went home and began to compose our own take on it. The version which best conveyed what Franco wanted to communicate was selected.”
The composition of the songs is currently still in progress, and the search for the right "sound" is ongoing. Emiliano Torquati and Stefano Acqua are working on the arrangements, with Antongiulio Frulio focusing on the orchestration. Maestro Luis Bacalov is contributing to the composition of the song "Da grande sarò immenso", to be performed by a young Nero who has not yet been corrupted by Rome, singing about his dreams of becoming an artist. Other composers include Stefano Acqua, Ernesto Migliacci, Massimo Cantini, Roberto Zappalorto, Andrea Casamento and Giorgio Costantini.