Partner Hans Werner Henze
Villa La Leprara, Via dei Laghi, Località Campofattore, 00047 Marino RM
Marino City Cemetery Marino, Città Metropolitana di Roma Capitale, Lazio, Italy
Fausto Ubaldo Moroni (1944 - 2007) was the companion of Hans Werner Henze for more than forty years. In this interview granted in 2006 to Clemens Wolken tells - for the first and only time - his life alongside the composer.
I have wonderful memories of my childhood in Taverna di Monte Colombo, a town so small that it is still a fraction, not even a municipality. For example, I remember the vigils that were held in the stables, the only rooms heated by the breath of the cows. In the evening we went to a stable belonging to a “rich” family, which means that they had many cows. There stories were born, gossip was told, love began and ended. In Taverna there were no dance halls or cinemas, and at Carnival private parties were organized, and those who were not invited, to participate, put on a costume with a mask and went to ask for "the two dances", which cannot be denied, to those who request them, it is a custom of our parts. These unfortunates then asked for "the two dances", and was given ä bitulön, that is, a slice of cake and a glass of wine, and after the two dances they had to leave by force. We all knew who it was who asked for the two dances, and they needed, in order to enter, the mnarön, that is, a child to go with them and knock on the door (I also did the mnarön), after which they were granted the two dance.
And I'll never forget the first movie I've seen in my life. There was a couple, wife and husband, the Morosini, who arrived on Sunday with a tandem to which a cart full of reels was attached, which at the time were huge. But the only large area in the town where you could see the films was the mill where the olives were ground. Then we would go there, people would sit on the ground or on the barrels, and I remember that the first time I saw a film, in 1948, set at the time of the ancient Romans, and I saw the chariots that came on me, I started crying and ran away. And I remember the day my dad bought our first radio, a Magnadyne, and that day I was allowed out of school. My father was a fruit and vegetable peddler, my mother a farmer. We never owned land, we only had pigs, which my father fed with leftover fruit and vegetables. And these pigs were my family's piggy bank. He used to sell them when they were pretty fat, but he never killed one for us in his life.
Hans Werner Henze: ritratto di Fausto, Acquerello. Marino 1997
When I was born, my father was already 48 and my mother 42. Years ago I learned that my mother married my father because she did not want to be a farmer, but she was in love with a gentleman, and when one day, she already had three children, saw him in a bus, passed out on the street. And I also found out, but this already 40 years ago, that my mother was already pregnant when she got married. She had her loom in the stable, and in the long winter evenings she wove. Just think that I still have her sheets, hand-woven in the stable, and I always use them. Fortunately, I had very unselfish parents, who wanted their children to succeed even though they knew they would lose them, as it happened later. And my mother unfortunately did not even see this house, while my father lived here for several months, and every autumn he took care of the olive harvest and was very proud of me. When I was nine, I went to Piedmont, to Mirabello Monferrato, to a Salesian boarding school. I was only there for a year, because they demanded that those who studied there then continue their studies and become a priest, but it was obviously not my case. So they wrote to my parents telling them that I had no tendency to become a priest and they sent me away. Then I went to another Salesian college in Lugo di Romagna. I already adored wine at the time, and I was so smart that I got myself appointed sacristan, and I was backstage during mass and drank the wine. And near our school lived a family of peasants who cultivated silkworms, and then I asked the director, Don Carbone, to be able to set up a small silkworm farm in the institute and so I did and enjoyed it a lot. And I remember that since I was a sacristan, I had to go and get the hosts in a convent of nuns that was in front of us, and in that convent of nuns as a student there was Piera degli Esposti whom I met by chance here in Leprara thirty years after.
Then, after the eighth grade exams I took in Rimini, I went to an uncle's in Pesaro and started doing accounting. But I didn't like studying. It was the period of Mina and the thousand blue bubbles, A zebra with polka dots, and instead of going to school I went to a bar to listen to the jukebox, or to the cinema and I also saw three films a day, so as not to study.
I arrived in Rome on 11 September 1960, the day after the Olympic Games closed. I arrived by train from Romagna, I had shoes on loan and too tight because they were not my size, the pants and shirt were on loan, and on top I was wearing a wool sweater made with recycled wool, one yellow and one brown , knitted by my mother, because according to her it was cold in September in Rome, and I arrived at Termini station dripping with sweat. Then I took the tram to Testaccio where I was going to live. I was sitting on the tram and they were lowering all the Olympic flags because the games were over. And I thought “what a nice welcome I have, instead of raising the flags for my arrival, they lower them as I pass”.
I was sixteen. I had always said that the province was too narrow for me. I had a very submissive mother, and a father who has always trusted his children and said “if he wants to go to Rome I have to send him”. And in Rome I lived with a sister of my father, I had a small cot in a room. And the day after my arrival I immediately went to work at the “Nuova Italia” publishing house.
I did everything, I went there at five in the morning, the charcoal radiators were still off. So I would go down at five in the morning to throw the ash out of the boiler, clean it, refill it and relight it; I did the office cleaning and at half past eight I would open all the offices, go to the book sales counter and then go with the Lambretta to deliver to bookstores in Rome. There I worked for at least three years, then later I worked in another office in via Millelire, and I took care of shipments to all the Italian cultural institutes in the world. I took care of the accounting and, still with my scooter, I went to the Foreign Ministry to deliver the books to Dr. Tellini. All this for 9000 lire a month, which was low even then.
Then there was the turning point in my life and I started working in an antiques shop. In the meantime I had discovered my homosexuality and strangely I was attracted to people much older than me, like the shop owner who was older than me and whom I loved very much. I lived with him and worked in his shop, where I later met Hans.
He had seen me on the street, in a car in Via Condotti. He followed me and entered the shop and, madly, bought some things, but then he didn't have the money to pay! He had spent a million, which was a fortune at the time. I had given him all the silverware he wanted without taking a penny or asking who he was. I said "Thank you doctor". And he replied: "Don't call me doctor, call me teacher". Obviously I didn't understand why I should call him master. When the owner arrived I was delighted to have sold all that stuff, and he asked me "where is the money?" "And the silverware"? "I gave it to him". And he gave me a terrible bullshit. "You will see that he will come back" I told him. In fact, the next day he came back and paid, but he took more stuff without paying for it.
And so we met, I think in May 1964. Then in November they did The Young Lord at the Rome Opera and I asked him for a ticket.
I've never been to an opera house in my life, that's for sure. It must have been in November 1965, because in December I left with him for Berlin, where they were to perform I Bassaridi directed by Gustav Sellner and costumes by Filippo Sanjust. Among other things, I was supposed to leave for Mexico with a dancer from the Moulin Rouge, a first-rate fijo de 'na whore who was 47 at the time and whom I had met in Paris. Instead I went with Hans to Berlin and we lived in the home of Wenzel Lüdecke, owner of the Berlin Synchron, who made his villa in Grünewald available to us.
After the stay in Berlin I started working for Hans. He told me that the villa was under construction and that he needed someone to take care of it. And after Berlin I came to Marino, I closed my apartment in Rome and I lived for a year in a horrible house in Via dei Laghi to follow the work at Leprara. I messed up my Mexican projects first, and then the American ones too: I had to go to New York, because according to my brother, I was a bummer and he wanted me to look for a serious job in New York. Luckily it didn't happen because I was definitely going to die.
On November 26, 1966 I opened the house here, Hans was returning from Tokyo where they had done the Elegy with Kerstin Mayer. I remember that I took him to the airport and told him "when you come back from Tokyo the house will be ready", and so it was.
In 1968 there was the unfortunate "premiere" of the Raft of the Medusa, which, moreover, was not a real premier, since the Oratory was not performed. I remember everything. I was in the room, among other things there were the librettist Schnabel, Solti and our friend Peg von Hessen. Hans was supposed to direct but they prevented him, the students attached a red flag to the podium, there was an uproar and the RIAS choir refused to sing with red flags hanging there; the police entered with shields, bludgeoning spectators and students, arrested the librettist Schnabel who was also injured because he was pushed through a glass window. We came out of a secondary exit and the "first" never existed. There was Edda Moser, Fischer-Dieskau and the narrator was Charles Regnier.
Hans writes: "I worried more about Fausto who was very angry about all this and who unfortunately had been strengthened again in that distrust of the Germans, instilled in his house. He was crying. The next morning, as soon as day, he set off for Italy without stopping, only twice to refuel, without getting off, without eating or drinking. He didn't even want to pee on German soil anymore ”.
But fortunately then, over the years, I changed my mind about the Germans. But the four, five years that followed were tough years. So difficult that we thought we had to sell the house. I even lent him my own money. In the following years Hans's music was rarely performed in Germany and his contract with his record company was also terminated.
In 1968, the year of scandals, Rudi Dutschke - leader of the SDS, the German Student Movement - was a guest of the Leprara for a few months, to recover from the attack he had suffered; at that time he had already been expelled from Switzerland. That was another great event in our life. He came by train to Termini station with Schwester, the doctor and his wife, and we went to pick him up with the police escorting us. Then in August Hans and I went to Santa Fe for The Bassarids that Hans was to direct. On our return - we were aboard the Cristoforo Colombo - after a few days of sailing, I saw in an Italian magazine some photos of the villa taken by helicopters and photos of our staff. I called from the ship and spoke to the staff who told me to come back because it was a disaster there. The ship naturally went on strike in Gibraltar. Finally arrived in Naples, we went to Rome by train and Rudi picked us up from the station, always escorted by the police. For three months we had the police at home 24 hours a day. When I went out shopping in the morning, they would escort me all the way. But I fooled them anyway. And I played cards with them in the kitchen. But with Dutschke I didn't have many relationships.
In 1970 Morni worked on the costumes of the Elegy for Young Lovers staged at the Edinburgh Festival. It was a great experience. Hans demanded that I make these costumes. But unfortunately I was too young and at the time I still didn't speak English well. I did it because he insisted, even though the costumes were really beautiful. The direction was by Hans and the scenography by Ralph Koltai, when at the time it was fashionable to use Plexiglas and the mountains were slanted Plexiglas blades mounted on steel. It went well despite my inexperience. Then we no longer cooperated. I did not want to. I had so many other things to do and there were thousands of costume designers better than me.
I came to Montepulciano from London, Hans was directing We come to the river. A fortnight earlier we had just bought our London home in Knightsbridge, and Hans said to me one morning: "Go to Montepulciano and save it for me." And we did it. I took care of everything. I was a driver, a cook, a technical director, a dishwasher. All this every summer for four years.
For me the most incredible thing was when Riccardo Chailly did the first rehearsal of the Turkish on stage, because I never, ever imagined it could happen. I was in the small office upstairs, I got out and the orchestra was ready, and everything was fine. Chailly started directing and then I started to cry.
The Montepulciano project has often had problems with funding and grants. But when something was missing, Hans put the money there. I used to get angry, but he always did that. There were also problems with the mayor of Montepulciano so much so that one evening, the Masnadieri had to do, Hans, as he also writes in the work diary on The English Cat, almost beat himself up with him.
Cuba in 1969 was a beautiful stay, but also hard because we soon realized that we were being spied on by microchips placed in the house. I discovered it because when something strange happened, the person would no longer come and disappear. Everything was under control, and very unpleasant. Also because we didn't go to Cuba to make the counter-revolution. And sadly, even the best friends who frequented our house were spies.
We went to cut sugar cane and then throw it on the trucks, we slept in the shacks surrounded by rats and in the morning we went to work in the fields. Then we did the disinfestation in the coffee fields against a microbe that was destroying it, together with Alicia Alonso and all her ballet company.
As we talk about our travels, what we did in Costa Rica comes to mind. I remember one day Hans fell asleep in the sun in the pool and got completely burned. And since this had already happened to him once, I knew that to calm the burn I had to put him in very hot water. I put him in a bathtub, but the water was so hot that he got completely boiled. So we had to go to Sacramento, at 2000 meters in the mountains, where he was freezing cold, and to heat I had lit 200 candles, and to move him I carried him on my shoulders. And at the time he still smoked and so I went down to San Jose di Costarica to look for cigarettes for him. They gave me an address, I go there and find out it was a brothel, I go in and say "look, I have an appointment with Maria", and I see a transvestite named Maria arrive; we went to the shanty town of San José de Costa Rica and he asked me "how many cigarettes do you want?" and I told her / him "about fifty", "then you have to wait because they have to prepare them one by one". And in short, I waited on the streets of the city walking with this transvestite. I'll never forget it.
But the best memory is linked to our stays on the island of Shella, in Kenya. We went there for nine years and he wrote a lot of things there, the Lacrymosa for the Requiem in 1991, The desperations of Signor Pulcinella, the whole Ninth Symphony, some parts of the Eighth Symphony, the ballets Le fils de l'air and Labyrinth, all the work Venus und Adonis, and lastly Voie lactée ô soeur lumineuse, for Paul Sacher's ninety years. Then I was president of a football team, the Bright Stars. But my presidency was only due to money and no other reason, because I don't even know if the ball is square or round. From Italy I brought T-shirts, shoes, and after the game I had a dinner for them. It was a beautiful time in our life.
I was more of a sorcerer. One day there was a mullah from Lamu who, getting off the boat, fell and split his head. I medicated it with the medicines that I always carried in my bag. And another time another mullah came - it is clear that word had spread - who asked me to cure his wife, and you know that a mullah does not let male hands touch his wife. And if by chance I didn't go to medicate her, he would come to call me. And this in a Muslim country.
In Lamu Moroni was also the owner of a boat whose captain, Selim, inspired the first of Hans's Sechs Gesänge aus dem Arabischen. The boat was called "Jamila", it was a 18-meter Dwah, beautiful, but Hans only stepped on it once, and I maybe two. I took care of it, repainted it, and when we left Lamu I gave it to my godson Fausto Junior, the son of our waiter. Among other things, I keep it, also because I gave birth to it, I cleaned and washed it, all this in the midst of the donkeys, which are everywhere in Lamu, and the mice.
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