Silvio Berlusconi’s trial set to music in London

When Silvio Berlusconi entered politics, politics entered his world. By drawing it into a universe of body-objects, masks and appearances, he made it into a spectacle in which he was the main character for a long time. But, when he is 86 years old and his long performance takes a twilight turn, the show will continue on a stage smaller than the Roman theater of power: that of the Southwark Playhouse, in London. In the spring of 2023, the British producer Francesca Moody launches a musical comedy there devoted to the life of the Cavaliere entitled simply Berlusconi.

Having found success with the show Fleabag, of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, adapted into a two-season series by the BBC in 2016, the producer presents this new creation as a political and feminist enterprise, a musical show that aims to be funny and disturbing, in the form of a trial of the type of masculinity that the Cavaliere embodied and pioneered the political style that went on to inspire populist leaders in recent years.

Sex scandals and financial scandals

It is on a Silvio Berlusconi confronted with the worst crisis of his existence that the curtain of the London theater will rise on March 24. The action takes place in 2012, based on real events. The chairman of the council, surrounded by sex scandals and financial scandals, understands that his political career risks ending in a remand prison. Drawing inspiration from this slump in Le Cavaliere, one of the two co-authors of the libretto, Ricky Simmonds, imagines a Silvio Berlusconi taking a retrospective look at his existence, but who, far from formulating his me culpa, gets down to writing an opera to his own glory.

“The first rule when writing a musical is to have a good reason to make the characters sing,” recalls screenwriter Ricky Simmonds. In the case of Silvio Berlusconi, no need to look far. In the archives of Italian television, there are many sequences where we see him interpreting songs, often French, on the sets of political programs or in meetings. A law student, he also sang to entertain cruise ship passengers and restaurant patrons in the Romagna seaside resort of Rimini, on the Adriatic Sea. Then between 2003 and 2010, a period during which he served twice as chairman of the board, he wrote four albums of love songs. If the music was developed by the composer Mariano Apicella, the texts are from the hand of the politician.

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