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Civic Opera Creations & CROSS Festival, Verbania

February 2020 - still touring

 Winner of the CROSS Award (5th edition) & CROSS Residency

With the concept of "European Kitchen Encounters" and its first installment "VR-BANIA", the team around Carmen C. Kruse and Manuel Zwerger won the 5° edition of the CROSS Award and a CROSS Residency in Verbania. The project explores the relationship between a community, its traditions, and cuisine through interviews with members of the region at Lago Maggiore. Together with the interviews, the live-cooking of a risotto giallo con salsiccia builds the basis of a new music-theater piece for Virtual Reality glasses. This immersive performance experience allows the audience member to dive into a musical and communal exploration of a shared identity.


"VR-BANIA" is the first installment of the new music theater series "European Kitchen Encounters" that creates local pieces and then presents them coupled with another European community's installment to encourage understanding and solidarity across Europe.   

CROSS Award  & CROSS Residency

CROSS Award is an international award, born in 2014 from an idea by Tommaso Sacchi and directed at early works in the field of performing arts (dance, theatre, music). The award aims to stimulate the investigation and artistic expression related to the union of different styles and genres, evaluating as rewarding factors the multi-language practices, the commingling of techniques and codes related to the various performing arts and a strong connection to a territory. The aim of the competition is to identify new productions that bring into dialogue the languages of the body and of the stage action with the musical composition. Three residencies are awarded by a jury of experts (critics, artists, curators and designers) and a territorial jury according to artistic and technical criteria. Three projects are also chosen for a CROSS residency and receive a budget to produce their work and a 16-day residency in Verbania, Italy. The 5th Edition had 262 nominations from 32 countries. More


Conceived by Carmen C. Kruse and Manuel Zwerger.

Commissioned by COCREATIONS, co-produced with CROSS Projects, with developmental support from Judith Selenko, Ariane Stamatescu, Schloss Unterloibl, and Dr. Elke Piskernik. 

The production has since been toured to Musiktheatertage Wien, Kulturhaus Helferei, Zürich and Elektrorauschen Innsbruck.

Creative Team


Manuel Zwerger



Carmen C. Kruse

Stage Director

Anna Piroli (c) Giovanni Daniotti

Anna Piroli


Leo Morello

Leo Morello


Manuel Zwerger

The South Tyrolean composer studied composition at the conservatory in Innsbruck and at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus. In his work he strives for interdisciplinary cooperation and exploration of sound, scene, movement and stage. His compositions have been performed by the Ensemble Modern, Windkraft – Kapelle für neue Musik, Ensemble chromoson, Ensemble airborne extended, Tiroler Kammerorchester Innstrumenti and the Streichorchester Sonarkraft in Argentina, Russia, Turkey and Europe. Zwerger received a composition scholarship from the Akademie Musiktheater heute, the Richard-Wagner-Verband Wien and the Hilde-Zach-Kompositionsförderstipendiums der Stadt Innsbruck.


Carmen C. Kruse 

The Austrian-German director works in repertoire and new opera. Her works are shaped by an in-depth, psychological exploration of broad societal themes and their effects on individuals. Fed by first-hand accounts and the use of innnovative, new technologies,  she creates immersive experiences that changes the relationship between orchestra and dramatic action, and presents worlds that inspire, empower, and connect. After making her directing debut with Cavalli's "L'Egisto" at the Halifax Summer Opera Festival 2017, Kruse won the Baden-Baden directing competition, the CROSS Award in Italy, as well as several scholarships and residences in Germany, France and the US.


Anna Piroli

Italian soprano Anna Piroli trained under the direction of Luisa Castellani at the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, with a specialization in contemporary music. Studies brought her to M. Hirayama in Rome, A. Caiello and the Divertimento Ensemble in Milan and N. Isherwood and the Ensemble Linea in Strasbourg. In 2016 she sang the leading role in the opera “Limbus – Limbo” by S. Gervasoni at the Kiev National Opera. Her performance of U. Chin's “Akrostichon-Wortspiel” was broadcasted on Italian RadioTre. Further collaborations brought performances and recordings a.o. with the Cappella Mediterranea, the vocal ensemble Vox Àltera, the Biennale Musica in Venice, LaVerdi Barocca, the Scelsi Foundation, Milano Film Festival and Ensemble Schallfeld.

Leo Morello

Italian Cellist Leo Morello studied with Maestro Enrico Bronzi at the Mozarteum. Salzburg. His mentors were cellist Antonio Meneses, Giovanni Gnocchi, Francesco Dillon, the pianist Marino Formenti and the violinist and conductor Reinhard Goebel. Particularly interested in the contemporary repertoire, he co-founded the New Art and Music Ensemble Salzburg with whom he's been touring Europe eversince. Morello presented numerous world premieres and collaborated with composers such as Enno Poppe, Achim Bornhöft, Matteo Franceschini, Jose Maria Sanchez-Verdu, Klaus Lang, and Salvatore Sciarrino. 





European Cultural News

19. September, 2022

"Carmen C. Kruse and Manuel Zwerger achieved the feat of coupling a Virtual Reality performance with a live experience. "European Kitchen Encounters: VR-BANIA" became not only a theatrical but also an epicurean experience for the audience. (...)

The subsequent dinner with the director and the composer provided an opportunity to talk not only about what had been seen, but also about what had gone before. This part in particular should be emphasised, because it is the experience of togetherness that one cannot feel while wearing the VR glasses that gave the performance its real spice. It is what audiences need now more than ever when they are exposed to theatre experiences."

- Excerpt from 'When the risotto starts to smell' by Michaela Preiner

Impressions from the Recording-Days

Juli 2021 #Metropol, #Wien

Impressions from the Concept-Workshops

Mai 27-31, 2021 in #SchlossUnterloibl, #Kärnten

Jul 5-12, 2021 #AlteWäscherei,  #Wien

Impressions from the Verbania Interview-Workshops

Feb 5-9, 2020 in #Verbania

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