Caravaggio Chiaroscuro is a new experimental opera written and conceived by Gian Marco Lo Forte, composed by Duane Boutte and directed by George Drance, which presents Caravaggio's Roman life and his struggles as a young artist. Caravaggio was one of the great painters of the Italian Renaissance and his work, though highly regarded, was censored. He painted saints and holy subjects, but used the "street" poor--marginal and common people he encountered in the piazze of Rome--as models for his paintings.
The score combines modern musical idioms with classical forms to create something new and dynamic: most of the key moments in the scenes will have music passages that develop with different layers of sounds and noises sampled from everyday life activity as well as rhythmical and virtuoso vocal sounds. The piece is sung and spoken in both English and Italian. The performance style draws upon Camerata Fiorentina's stile rappresentativo of 1600, a hyperemotional recitation of the words that followed the natural rhythms, accents and inflections of the language, which is accompanied by sparse instrumentation. Like Monteverdi's "Orfeo," it employs choral ritornelli, lyrical recitative and songs. Language is the focal point of the drama and the music is utilized as accompaniment and to create another dramatic layer to tell the story.