Italians upset by La Scala’s decision to kick off season with German composer Wagner and not local hero Verdi – News – Classical – The Independent
Richard Wagner‘s Lohengrin kicks off La Scala‘s season on Friday with the renowned Milanese theatre under fire for choosing the German maestro over local hero Giuseppe Verdi on the biggest night of the year for the world of opera.
With opera lovers around the globe preparing to celebrate the 200th birthday of both composers, born a few months apart in 1813, La Scala has been accused of being unpatriotic at a time when Italy battles a recession some blame on austerity policies driven by Germany.
“La Scala puts Verdi in a corner, preferring the German,” wrote il Giornale newspaper owned by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi‘s family and known for its vitriolic attacks on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Corriere della Sera said there was unease in the orchestra pit over the choice of Wagner in Verdi’s musical home and talked of “a blow to national pride in a moment of crisis.”
La Scala general manager Stephane Lissner, a Frenchman, has dismissed the controversy as ridiculous.
“There are more serious problems than this Wagner-Verdi derby,” he told reporters this week, pointing out that the theatre will stage six works by Wagner against eight by Verdi in the 2012/13 season.
Can I wear a beret? It’s a classic black Spanish one. I’m not in the army.
A Roz Chast cartoon in a recent issue of the New Yorker shows a guy wearing a Basque beret (the most common style) in the street. Nobody is really looking at him, but he is thinking angrily to himself, “I’m allowed to wear a beret! Plenty of people all over the world wear a beret!”
The thing is, of course, they don’t: Only the very oldest of old men in the smallest of towns in France and Italy still do; the rest of the beret purchasers are either planning a fancy-dress costume (a “painter,” usually, with white smock and palette and floppy bow) or hoping to join the Guardian Angels. There is also a small contingent of elderly professors (political science, philosophy, classics) who emulate Jean-Paul Sartre and Che Guevara in pictures from their youth; they’re sweet, in their buttoned trench coats, but you don’t want to look like them.
The Via Nomentana is an avenue like many others in Rome. Taxis and motorbikes hurtle along it in the summer heat but, half-way down, through a set of iron gates, lies another world – the cool and the calm of the gardens of the Villa Torlonia.
A lawn, shaded by palm trees, rises up a slope and a path lined with flowers leads to the villa itself – grand and imposing. For 18 years, this was the home of Benito Mussolini, his wife and their children.
The villa is a museum now and, as you wander through its marble halls, it is easy to see that – for a time – life here for the Mussolinis was very good indeed.
The ballroom is lit by low-hanging chandeliers and above them, on the ceiling, painted angels go gliding through the heavens.
Mussolini’s bedroom is still much as he would remember it. You can almost see him throwing open the tall green shutters on a summer night, letting in any breeze that might emerge from the trees beyond the balcony.
Black-and-white photographs show how Mussolini spent his days at the villa.
Out on the fine white gravel of the driveway, you see him pictured as a swordsman, practising his fencing – Il Duce’s stocky frame presenting a rather large target for his coach.
In one photo, he is on a white horse, easily clearing a jump on a riding track in the grounds.
Another shows the dictator on the tennis court wearing a cap to protect his bald head from the sun. But he is much more smartly dressed when we see him welcoming to his home an Arab diplomatic delegation.
Strange Random Safety Quote:
“Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.” ― Lemony Snicket
- Google to put Mussolini online (guardian.co.uk)
- Il Duce to strut his stuff as 30,000 reels go online (smh.com.au)
- Google Puts Twentieth Century Italian History Online (eogn.com)
- GOOGLE to put Mussolini online; 30,000 newsreels (investmentwatchblog.com)
- IF …suspend (carickature.blogspot.com)
- VIDEO: A look inside Mussolini’s Rome bunker (bbc.co.uk)
- iDictator apps for your hands to hold (infocult.typepad.com)
- Stanley G. Payne on Italian fascism (faschistensindimmerdieanderen.wordpress.com)
- Saturday Night Silly: Il Duce Standing Above the Country~He’s Sort of God” (Video) (nicedeb.wordpress.com)
Nostalgia and local pride always play a part in the love of regional wines, whether from the Loire Valley or the banks of the Rhine. So it’s hard not to be in thrall to a wine that you’d drink on the island of Capri overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Prior to my great grandparents’ emigration to America in 1888, they hadn’t a clue what kind of wines they were drinking back in the Old Country, where no one had ever tried to classify one grape from another.
In those days, as in most of Italy, most grapes were self propagating, a condition called “promiscuous cultivation,” and the vines had to compete with other plants for water and nutrients, thereby producing wines of little character. Oxidation was considered characteristic; wine was sold almost exclusively from huge, old, oak barrels.
Even after Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture established its denomination of wine origins in 1963, it was a frustrating job to delineate the distinctions among dozens of Campanian grapes like greco, fiano, falanghina, biancolella and coda di volpe (tail of the wolf).
Strange Random Wine Quote (Fact, in fact):
- Koppert Cress Tour Italia – 7th stop: Campania, Palazzo Petrucci with Lino Scarallo (carpediemclub.wordpress.com)
- 8 Outstanding Italian Red Wines You’ve Never Heard Of (menuism.com)
- What do the Italians call a native of the Italian region of Campania (wiki.answers.com)
- Life’s short; try a different wine today (knoxnews.com)
- 2007 House Wine-Red (winecommonsewer.com)
- What is the English translation of the Italian ‘Campania’ (wiki.answers.com)
- Cheese and wine in Champagne (ckenb.blogspot.com)
- Saffron risotto with goose liver pâté recipe (telegraph.co.uk)
- Vines – Curiosity (cercasisole.wordpress.com)