“DiagrammaCircolare” is a stage presentation in two movements composed in 1959. In thiswork Alberto Bruni Tedeschi expresses his rejection of the atrocities of warand dictatorship, and he does it by trying to make use of the entire theatreand employing all instruments of expression that man has created foraudio/visual presentation. Thus we have to do with a work that is among themost modern of that period.
Themagnificent Diagramma summarizes the almost twenty year cycle beginning withthe ruins of World War I and closing with those of World War II. The sixessential phases are: production, overproduction, crises, dictatorship andarmament, war and ruins. At the end of the cycle one returns unavoidably to thepoint of outset. Alberto Bruni Tedeschi is a man of the industrial community,and the cycle depicted by the Diagramma is a source of life experience andrelationships for him and not just an opportunity for dry scientific orphilosophical speculation. Hence, the cycle itself is presented as almostcounterpointal under rather different and seemingly incompatible viewpoints.
Thespeaker invokes cartesian argumentation, an opinion which, because ofhumanitarian considerations, cannot condescend to compromises: if logicdictates that the cycle is predestined to be repeated and that the protagonistschange only in their personal identities but nonetheless with the same socialfunctions shall commit the same deeds presented to the audience, then thespeaker neither can nor may supplant the effect of the speech with his ownwishes, he neither can nor may foster any illusions with consoling lies.
Thespeaker is a hateful, inhuman but necessary being: if the human race were evercapable of interrupting the pardonless cycle, it would not occur unrecognizedand contrary to reason. The author created a corner all for the speaker himselfwho has nothing to do with the passions and suffering caused by the events,even his language is exalted above them, sterile, precluding any stress or evenparticipation in what he is saying, as so expressed by Giampiero Bona'smeticulous wording.
Buthuman life is not just reason, there is also ambition, the basic necessity ofexistence, there are the powers unleashed by human transactions, which becomegreater with each one of man's control functions, powers which result in such amanifestation of life’s energies that they cause mass deaths and totaldestruction. Man is also an abstraction: man has changed with the change of thecircumstances of history; in the capitalistic world there is the president hereis the worker, he threatens even if he doesn't send the politician. Thepresident of the board of administrators does not stand above the parties, asdoes the speaker. On the contrary, he is involved, he burns with enthusiasm, hedefends his role and the ideas evolving from it, he worries, he is happy aboutthe victories and is destroyed by defeat. In contrast to the loneliness of thepresident is the indivisibility of the worker from the others, comrades inunemployment or at work or family members whose bread depends upon hisemployment and earnings. What the president and the worker have in common isthe intranslatability of their respective languages, fear of the realdifferences of their interests: for the president the closing of plant 12 canbe an unavoidable necessity, as for the worker the necessity of feeding hischildren is unavoidable. If the one cannot advance towards his goal at thegreatest speed, the other cannot wait, and each expresses ideas which arebasically only the rationalisation of their respective needs. The workercommits suicide, his son is killed by the police for plotting against thesecurity of the state, the mother will die under the war bombs: but there willalways be workers, who work during the periods of superproductivityand armament in an inhumane rhythm and are driven to despair in the times ofcrisis, which arouse a spontaneous rebellious philosophy of life in theworkers.
Andin the meantime the rhythm develops mercilessly: and meanwhile the cycledevelops mercilessly: the rhythm of production grows beyond measure, and justbecause of the improved standard of life the crisis breaks out, riches aredestroyed which have just been created without considering their realnecessity; then the dictator agrees to a certain upswing again, but that simplyshifts the crisis to the level of international relations and leads to the fatefulwar and to new destruction, to ruin, to the return of the circular Diagramma toits original position ready to begin a new cycle of production, crisis and war.But at this point the dramatic situation is withdrawn from the development thatseems to be predestined. The daughter of a worker sits in the place of thepresident, if only for a time, and proposes a search for the causes andresponsibility for all of the destruction, for all of the sacrifices of energyand life made in vain. The speaker warns against useless preaching and againsttrying people who have acted in the only possible way for them. That there havebeen errors means that everything has been and shall forever be unavoidable,doesn't it? Basically, the law as expressed in the diagram is strict. Man can,however, each for himself or in solidarity with each other, interrupt thediagram at the outbreak of war by use of “foresceing higher reason”. Andperhaps the fact that the chorus closes its final complaint with the word“salvation” is symbolic.
Thereal people in the piece suffer, and so they die, and the musician suffers withthem and for their sake, but nonetheless he does not forget that much of whathappens is unavoidable. Hence, there's a musical aspect declaring hissolidarity with the characters, and even an aspect identifying itself with them(it should not be forgotten that all characters express themselves in words);and finally, an aspect to the contrary presenting the situations in anobjective neutral manner. Just as the drama thrives on the strong contrastbetween reality and purposefulness, the music touches the limits of sound, thelimits of presentation corresponding to the reality of the roaring eventsconcerned, sometimes with tbc purpose-fulness of counterpointal architecturewhich obeys the merciless law, sometimes with the voice of human pain (the sixchorus “complaints”), more frequently with a quick succession of all theunravelable parts woven together. In two cases the music forms the voices ofworldly beings with exteriors that can hardly be set to music: threestockbrokers and three statisticians. In both cases a catastrophic prophecycomes from the mouths of the unusual people a prophecy that is punctuallyverified. The drama that the audience gets to see is alive and senses by meansof words, film strips, sound effects and finds its exact agreement in the musicwhich in one respect opposes the feeling for the manner of the original basicintention of expression, and in another respect supplements it, so that the strictcounter-pointal conversation is in unity with the vitality of the percussionand the naive singability, or with the pointed screeching of the stringinstruments. The expression “counterpoint”, which by tradition designates asong with many voices, broadens its meaning to that of rehearsing visual actionand audio plays, music and sound effects, lights and realistic outbreaks. Thereis the hissing and explosion of bombs, the merciless pounding of machines, thedramatic crash on the New York Stock Exchange which “counterpoints” thescientific speculation of the stockbrokers who make you shiver because of their“neutrality” by remaining unmoved by the catastrophe and on their partcounterpointing the information about the events reported by the speaker withthe customary brutal objectivity. In a further sense this is one of manyexamples of counterpoint laced through the entire work. The music, although aninseparable part of a sizeable project, does have its own essentialeffectiveness even if it cannot really be separated from the stage action:Diagramma circolare is a message which you can accept as it is or reject, butwithout doubt it is a testimony that you should not ignore or underestimate.
Asan explanantion of his own task the speaker invites the public to watch a grandDiagramma Circolare composed of six parts. They represent the different statesof the economy, each brought forth by the preceeding, unified in a complete andclosed cycle. The parts are respectively: production, overproduction, crisis,dictatorship and armament, war, ruins. In this cycle the principle governingthe changes of human existance proves itself: i.e. let us take a worker'sfamily in the period following the war 1915-1918. At first there is theunemployment, of the head of the family, but soon the production mechanism willstart again and he will be working in his old factory again. The rhythm ofproduction steps up slowly to a dizzying tempo and goes into overproduction.Then we reach 1929, the year of tragedy, moved by need and ruin, the beginningof the great crisis and the Great Depression. From Wall Street the news of thecrash of the economic world is flashed out. The confusion is so merciless andterrifying that numerous industries collapse and turn to dust, legendary wealthdisappears into nothing, and the world of despairing expectation begins totremble, the booty of anarchy and mismanagement. In the factories redundanciesbecome necessary and our worker is dismissed as well, but the losses aremultiplied and continue to rise. The only means is to stop production. Silencedescends upon the plant. The complete silence, the collapse of work and themachines, the terrifying stillness of the plants, in which life has beenblotted out. The worker who has lost every hope commits suicide. The crisis of1929 announces the beginning of state intervention in the affairs of itssubjects. A dictatorship is set up which, however, is gleefully welcomed by thepresident of the industrial company, who is convinced that this will bring theend of the economic crisis. And indeed the factories soon open their gates:there is new work for them, a new upswing. The only resistance to thedictatorship is incorporated in the son of the worker who commited suicide; hereveals his own ideas in a dramatic discussion with the president of thecompany. The son is also shot down by the state police shortly afterwards, andthanks to an armament plan the production has been greatly increased, so thatthe country is prepared for the probable event of a war. The rhythm ofproduction grows convulsively. War breaks out. The plants and the worker'shouse are destroyed, and the president and the mother are left, but both dead.The only survival of the worker's family is now the daughter. But although herbody is alive, her heart and spirit have become the victims of the deadlytragedy. She moves about aimlessly in strange measures, there where happinesscould be identified as the complete lack of contact, and surely in a lonely andvery sad state of insanitv. The shadows of the dead unite with her in order tolend expression to the torturous question about the purpose of theirsacrifices. While the tragically ended economic cycle is beginning anew, thespeaker draws his conclusions: all that has been in the past, shall be in thepresent and the future. But the names and exteriors change, so that anybodywithout good ears cannot recognize them and cannot be sufficiently prepared tooppose them. Nonetheless, the speaker warns that the horrible war machineryneed not be used in order to live, but that it is necessary that man interruptthe cycle of the diagram with all means at his disposal, by exchanging thecycle at the outbreak of war by foreseeing higher reasoning.