header i-Italy

Articles by: Samantha Janazzo

  • The explosion of the cart in Florence on Easter Day
    Life & People

    Easter and Springtime Traditions in Italy

    This year Easter falls on April 21, while some traditions have been passed to the Untied States over the generations, such as chocolate eggs and Easter baskets, each region in Italy herolds traditions of their own. Since Italy is one of the most Catholic countries in the world, Easter is traditionally celebrated in a big way. Keep reading to find some of Italy's most exciting celebrations. 

    Milan

    Spring into Lombardy’s capitol for a cultural experience. Milan is known for cherishing ages of art through its reputable museums and galleries. Start your Easter week off by visiting Leonardo DaVinci’s “The Last Supper” in Santa Maria delle Grazie. Make sure to get tickets in advance; each reveler is allotted just 15 minutes to marvel at the masterpiece before being escorted from the former Domenican Monastery. The tradition of the “Colomba di Pasqua” originated in Milan and became a fundamental tradition in households all around Italy.  It is a dove shaped cake with a similar consistancy to Panettone with flavors of almond and a sweet outter coating.

    Venice

    Though Venice has a huge production of parades and festivals for Carnivale, Easter is much more contained. Most Venetians are busy at work on Friday and shops and markets remain open on Saturday. Throughout Sunday bells chime through the city from the ancient clock towers that make Venice so picturesque and celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. Delicious chocolate Easter eggs, a tradition that has internationally commercialized the Easter season, are unwrapped from their cellophane and devoured by the young ones. People give gifts, enjoy lamb with artichokes, and spend time with each other in springtime bliss.

    Trieste

    Trieste is filled with incredible Orthodox churches that create the perfect ambiance for an Easter weekend; the beautiful scenery of downtown Trieste is also a plus. Make sure to munch on Pinza Pasquale; a native dish to the area and a traditional Easter must try. The sweat treat is a mix between a cake and bread; its fluffy buttery texture is complimented by its simple sweet flavor and topped with the shape of a cross. The panoramic views and unforgettable shopping make for the perfect springtime seaside getaway.

    Florence

    Florence brings Easter in with a bang, literally, and it’s called Lo Scoppio del Carro or The Explosion of the Cart. Every Easter Sunday a 30-foot antique cart pulled by white oxen is paraded from Porta al Prato to Piazza del Duomo where it towers in front of Santa Maria del Fiore.  A dove shaped enflamed torch is then launched towards the cart to ignite a fireworks show from the structure. The tradition is held in memorium of a Florentine knight, Pazzino di Ranieri de’ Pazzi who raised a Holy Cross insignia in Jerusalem in the midst of a Crusades battle. As you could imagine, this works up quite an appetite, in fact, do you smell something sweet? That would be fresh frittelle or fried dough pockets. Served steaming hot, these are soft on the inside and sprinkled with fresh sugarcane on the golden brown outside. You can find Italian venders selling them on the street and pay by weight, get full bag sweets for a great price.

    Rome

    Rome is home of the largest Holy Week congregations, the Pope hosts Masses beginning from Palm Sunday through to Easter Sunday.  For Holy Thursday Pope Francis says Mass in St. Peter's Basilica followed by the Stations of the Cross in the Coliseum that evening. A candlelit Easter Vigil commences at 8:30pm in the Basilica. Mass is said outdoors on Easter Sunday and is witnessed by thousands of Christians in St. Peter's Square followed by the Papal Blessing "Urbi et Orbi," or "to the city and the world." Families and Friends gather together after for a supper of succulent roasted lamb, the flavors of lemon and rosemary resonate through the delicious Easter tradition for the perfect day.

    Naples

    Springtime in southern Italy includes temperate weather and meadows of blossoming flowers backed by the crisp blue Bay of Naples. Naples natives embrace time with family and friends. Large picnics and outdoor gatherings commence where pigs are roasted with a salty flavoring and crisp texture on the outside, while being very juicy on the inside. Casatiello is a savory loaf that contains cheese and cured meats like salami and sausage. Finish the celebration with Pastiera, a delightful Easter pie swollen with sweet cream and topped with fresh berries and a healthy dosage of powdered sugar.

    Abruzzo

    The Abruzzese streets are filled with processions that last from the morning to late at night filled with music, chanting, praying, and lights. The religious floats are carried through the streets, to preserve the religious traditions some devout Catholics abstain from eating the entire day. Not to worry, the weekend is filled with decadent meats and sweet treats. Pupe and Cavallini di Pasqua are cocoa almond cookies that are cut into the shapes dolls (pupe) and cavallini (little horses) that young boys and girls look forward to all year.

    Sicily

    The island of Sicily flaunts its diversity of traditions around Easter time dating back to its rich cultural past. From Good Friday to Pasquetta, the Monday after Easter, the Sicilian streets are lined with religious processions comprised large floats carried by men and women through the cities, some take as many as 16 people to carry safely. Each float is made up of a religios scene: one chariot holds Jesus lying after the Crucifixion and a stutue of the grieving Madonna following him. They are joined by live bands, orchestras, and parades holding candles and ringing bells. A typical Easter finger food is fresh stuffed bread called Scacce, specific to the Ragusa area. Oozing with flavor, this steaming fresh bread is stuffed with tomato sauce packed with flavors of garlic, olive oil, basil, fresh meat, and lots of cheese that creates a sensation of fresh Easter delight.

    We hope you enjoyed your Easter trip around Italy! Full of life, flowers, fiends, family, doves, and eggs filled with treats.

  • Pasta Cacio e Pepe. One of the restaurant's special pastas
    Dining in & out

    Scopa Italian Roots

    You may think you have a favorite Italian restaurant in LA, but if it isn’t Scopa Italian Roots, then you simply must give it a try. Venice Beach’s Washington Blvd. is a typical LA street with its many strip malls and eateries. Sleek and unassuming on the outside, Scopa’s dark building with large square windows stands alone near a marina. But as you walk in, you will quickly realize why it’s your new favorite. The gorgeous massive bar has bottles that stack up to the highest part of the ceiling.

    They’re illuminated by gold light and stand out against the charcoal colored walls. The waiting room is quaint and comfortable, but you may rath-er want to wait at the bar. Reservations fill up quickly, so dropping-in on a Friday after LA traffic could mean you’ll be waiting at the bar for a while. A little patience goes a long way because the food here is exquisite. Not only do the floor to ceiling windows provide stunning views of colorful sunsets, the way the chefs plate the food is almost as eye catching, if not more. 

    Executive Chef Antonia Lofaso provides her customers with motherly affection along with a fresh interpretation of old-school Italian food. She is an expert on finding the balance between fine dining and homey comfort food. She takes a classic Italian antipasto, for instance–fried zucchini flowers–and makes crisped-to-perfection fried squash blossoms, and you’re lucky she did! 

    Not only do the simplicity of fresh ingredients compliment each other perfectly, but this neighborhood gem also brings people together with its timeless dishes. From the classics, like eggplant parmesan and rice balls, to more refined dishes, like linguine topped with braised pork cheek and ricotta salata, Scopa tries to satisfy every palate. While much of their influence is Italian, one dessert is based on a classic American school lunch–the fluffernutter. It’s a sweet rich blend of toasted marshmallow and peanut butter that will bring back nostalgic feelings of the easy days of elementary school. 

    The trendy spot also offers a wide range of beverages from imported wines to creative cocktails and is currently featuring the Louis XIII De Remy Martin. Put the prosecco aside (just for tonight) and enjoy this Grand Champagne Cognac-80 proof that was created in 1874 and contains a blend of up to 1,200 eaux de vie, the youngest of which is 40 years old. So come to Scopa and enjoy the Italian American food that has pushed the limits of the LA dining scene for years. 

    Scopa Italian Roots

    2905 Washington Boulevard

    Ph. (310) 821-1100

    cuisine Traditional

    ambience Trendy

    price $$$ 

     

     

     

  • Stefano Albertini interviews Fred Plotkin at Casa Italiana All Photos by: Molly Engleman
    Art & Culture

    Great Season Finale for Plotkin's " 2017 Adventures in Italian Opera"

    To ring in the final installment of Fred Plotkin’s wonderful opera based series Adventures in Italian Opera, NYU professor and Director of Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò Stefano Albertini sits down with Plotkin to peek into the expert's mind on all things Italian. For the past 5 sessions, Casa Italiana hosted and live streamed Plotkin’s interviews with some of the finest in the world of Italian opera. During his session with Albertini, Plotkin revealed that he has already secured more than half of next year's season of Adventures in Italian Opera.

    Before delving into the riveting conversation, let’s look back on the five interviews that created a vivacious series that encompasses all the aspects of Italian opera. First, mezzo-soprano Marianna Pizzolato (who even sang a little!) visited Fred Plotkin at Casa Italiana for an exciting interview about her Metropolitan Opera debut as the leading role in L'Italiana in Algeri. Second, Francesca Zambello discussed her role as artistic and general director of the Glimmerglass Festival and her work with the Washington National Opera. Third, Cori Ellison spoke about his work at The Juilliard School. Fourth, Diana Damrau, a coloratura soprano, spoke about her role as Juliette at the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Roméo​ et Juliet. Plotkin and Damarau extensively discussed her work with Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, and Bellini. Fifth, Daniele Rustioni charmed the audience; the young 34 year-old recently debuted as maestro at the Met.

    Speaking with the utmost humility, Rustioni described his travels around the world and his experience conducting at some of the most prestigious venues. What better way to end this year's season than for Stefano Albertini to sit down with Fred Plotkin? Interestingly enough, the segment began with the opening clip from Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, because in Plotkin’s opinion, “opera leads to cinema.” Plotkin feels Fellini is the best director of all time because “he possesses the ability to communicate all aspects of humanity.” The interviewer and interviewee delve deeply into a conversation about the idea of extracting messages from cinema and opera. The physical and metaphorical ideologies that a director captures change each time a viewer watches the same opera or film. 

    Plotkin reminisces about one of the first operas he saw during his adolescence–Puccini'Tosca. He played a clip of Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi to demonstrate how acting and opera go together–bringing him back to the idea of cinema and film. He shows the passion and the emotion the singers put into the choreography. Of course, Plotkin uses the scene of Tosca stabbing Scarpia to present his case. In fact, during his time in Italy, Plotkin learned from Gobbi: “Gobbi awakened me to realizing that there are no shortcuts, he made me go to the music, the text, and the history to understand costumes, to [understand] gestures, and so on.” It's clear to see the opera is not just about the singing: it's about the conducting of the orchestra, the costume and set designers, the lyrics of the songs, and the history/meaning behind the work. Fred Plotkin's mission is to highlight the lessons he learned from Tito Gobbi, Federico Fellini, and all the others that have touched his life. He lives to relay their messages through the sessions he hosts and Casa Italiana and his column on the website >>>.

     

    Plotkin embraces and specializes in all things Italian. Though he is not Italian by blood, he fell in love with the country of Italy the moment he first visited. He felt connected to the culture, the language, and the food. He was able to study in Bologna and various other areas across the Boot, meeting and working with some of his greatest inspirations. Casa Italiana and the audeince members truly embrace Plotkin's series, and we look forward to finding out what's in store for the future.

  • Giro d'Italia 2016, the Alps
    Life & People

    Cyclist Tour Italy With the 100th Giro d'Italia

    Il Giro d’Italia or The Tour of Italy is one of the most popular and historic bicycle racing tours in the world. Known for cycling through the entire country of Italy (and sometimes passing through bordering territories) in twenty-one stages, this 3,500 kilometer tour takes one month of complete and is comprised of 22 international official teams from May 5th to May 28, with only two resting days.

    The first Grand Tour began in 1909, Italian cyclist Luigi Ganna left his mark as the first prizewinner. In fact, the top two competitors with the most wins are Italian: Alfredo Binda and Fausto Coppi; five wins each. 2017 hails as the 100th competition- during the First and Second World Wars the races were cancelled.

    For the third time in history, the race will commence in Sardinia- infamous for its rough up and down hilly terrain and accompanied by waterside views. Racers will speed 575km from Alghero to Olbia, to Tortolì, to Cagliari surpassing spectacles of picturesque beaches, islands plentiful of historic antiquities and mythology, castles, islands, and Roman vestiges.

    By May 9 the cyclists take Sicily starting from the small city of Cefalu at the rocky base of Mount Etna for another 150km before transferring to the boot to start on Calabria’s terrain, May 11. The next stage will take the bikers through Puglia for the first Adriatic sightings bringing the cyclists through famous towns and villages of the Italian coast.

    The next stage measures 152 kilometers and travels through the Molise town Montenero di Bisaccia. Some argue this is the most physically demanding stage because it brings the bikers to the highest part of Abruzzo. Not only will cyclists be expected to peak the heights of this treacherous feat, they will surpass caves, deep valleys, and harsh canyons. Things begin to flatten out as the course takes the heart of Umbria.

    Tuscany and Emilia Romagna welcome the competitors on May 17 where they will cycle through the Florentine hills and bathhouses that date back to Ancient Rome. While the best mountaineers would have excelled through the previous stages in southern Italy, Tuscany is for the sprinters with its wide, paved, flat roads.

    Next is Reggio to Tortona, May 19, the most stubborn sector for its 167 km, pedaling through Via Emilia; the unpredictable terrain has tricked bikers for years. May 22 leads the Alpine stage, 222 km and one serious altitude change. It starts from Rovetta, a small hamlet of the Val Seriana, passing Edolo, climbs Stelvio up ends at Bormio.

    The most anticipated stop is next, beginning in Moena, the section of the Dolomites between the valley of Fassa and Fiemme, leading to Ortisei in the heart of Val Gardena after 137 kilometers. The bikers will be climbing the most famous passes: Pordoi, Gardena, and Pontives; backed by the UNESCO protected mountain range.

    On May 26 the path continues through the mountains. For the first time in the history of the Giro d’Italia the bikers will take on San Candido in Piancavallo, a large and sunny plateau north of Pordenone, among breathtaking bends of the Dolomite summits. May 27 anticipates a 190km stretch, starting from Pordenone with its elegant Venetian old town, and arriving on Via Asiago by way of the slopes of the Treviso Mountains and Mount Grappa. In fact, Asiago stands in the green basin in the heart of the Venetian mountains surrounded by peaks that reach a mile and a halfs high.

    The Italian Tour ends on a path through the historic park of Monza in Milan, passing Villa Reale, and arriving in Milan's city center, Piazza Duomo. Each year the Peloton improves, cyclists train tirelessly to survive the Alps, Dolomites, narrow city passageways, and expansive terrains to take home the title as Grand prix of the Giro d’Italia.  

    Click here for more informationp;

  • Art & Culture

    New Martone TV Series about Eduardo De Filippo

    Famous Italian film director Mario Martone is creating a brand new television series about legendary actor, screenwriter, author, and playwright Eduardo De Filippo, based out of Naples, to be sponsored by the publishing house Publispei.

    Martone is known for his films Il giovane favoloso (now known as Leopardi), L’amore molesto, Morte di un matematico napoletano and many more. He plans to revive the early to mid 1900s life in Naples with De Filippo’s corky and equally famous family members, long time friends, and fellow co-stars. Eduardo Scarpetta, famous actor and playwright, had extramarital affairs resulted in the birth of his three children: Eduardo, Peppino, and Titina De Filippo; (taking their mother’s surname) one could only imagine the creativity and whit that Martone has to work with in the up and coming series. Scarpetta’s trademark humor was Naples-centric; which he of course passed on to all three of his children who spent their lives becoming famous in their own ways.

    This will be Martone’s very first production of a television series; which he foresees being an international affair. It will be more than just a biographical account of De Felippo’s life and family, it will showcase their successes, their rivalries, and their good friend and partner in business- Antonio de Curtis Gagliardi Griffo Focas Comneno or "Totò."

    A majority of the shooting and staging of De Filippo’s manifesto takes place in Naples during March. “It is Eduardo's first direction," Martone says, "he was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, he digs into the human soul, and digs to find a social context.” The director wants to create more than just a recount of the dramatist’s life and career, he wants to revive the soul he put into his work and entrust his history to us, the future viewers of this innovative comedy.

    It is nothing but fitting for Mario Martone to have chosen the life of Eduardo De Filippo as the subject of his very first TV series. Naples connects the two of them, their ability to embrace and connect with their hometowns while creating their own stereotypes that have gone back to Eduardo Scarpetta’s generation and his brilliant acting that he has passed to his children. But their strongest connection is that they are not only Neapolitan, they are symbols of Italy, creative geniuses alike.  

  • Depero and the Metropolis of New York, Museo del Novecento
    Art & Culture

    New York New York: Rediscovering America, in Milan

    New York City is more than just the largest city on the east coast, it is a symbol for all things American: from food, to tourism, to art, and more. That is why everyone feels a pull to visit the Big Apple at least once in their life. Milan further proves this with a 150 piece exhibition, comprised of works by Italian artists only, that winds through the Museo del Novecento and the Gallerie d'Italia in the Piazza Scala titled “New York New York: rediscovering America.” It is open to the public through September 17 in partnership with the Electa Publishing House.

    “New York New York. Italian Art: rediscovering America” is curated by Francesco Tedeschi, Francesca Pola, and Federica Boragina. Its mission is to captivate the story of the Italian depiction of the free world from the perspective of modern Italian artists who have lived in, traveled through, or simply imagined how the United States physically is or would be in the world- with a particular emphasis on New York City.

    An incredible diverse selection of artists with innumerable mediums, styles, and techniques fill the galleries with an expansive variation of New York related interpretations. “Rediscovering America” means to discover its mythology and depict it tangibly through art; this is what the curators are exposing through the perspective of the Italian inhabitants and dreamers alike.  

    The greater part of the exhibition is found in the Museo del Novecento. Fortunato Depero’s 1930 New York depiction is acting as the exhibition’s cover photo: the futurist’s geometric colorful style shows an illuminated NYC exploding from its black background as if each skyscraper is made out of fireworks lighting the city so brightly it creates physical instability. From Afro Basaldella's fragmented geography printing, the patriotic and deeply symbolic red, white, and blue Paolo Baratella works, the deeply carved multi dimensional sculptures of Pietro Consagra, and so much more, NYC and the United States shines in many different lights in Milan’s galleries.

    Ugo Mulas receives individual recognition of his memorable project "New York: Art and People," which he completed between 1964 and 1967 in New York City Studios in correspondence with artists such as Barnett Newman, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann. An extremely powerful message ties together the mission of branching Italian artists with the United States.

    The Gallerie D’Italia displays Umberto Boccioni and his avant-garde use of space when describing NYC; Giacomo Balla’s attention to light and dark detail to create incredible organic shapes and sizes; Carlo Carra infusion of words and images in his very own creative voice; and the work of Giorgio Morandi, who has left his trademark on NYC and is known for his use of clarity and purity of his pictorial language. In 1949 in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, each of the aforementioned artists belonged to an exhibition called “XX Century Italian Art.” The rest of the exhibition is made up of works from the 1950s and 1960s to encapsulate modernity.

    In a sense, the Museo del Novecento is a representation of the works of the creative teachers, while Milano Gallerie D'Italia in the Piazza Scala creates a premise for an entirely different set of Italian protagonists. The Italian perception of the World War I and World War II in America is a powerful message that resonates a commonality through many of the pieces, including images of skyscrapers and national colors, especially when it's depicted by Italians.

    Milanese publishing house Electa is proud to promote the event for their own mission, ingrained in promoting modern and contemporary arts through their catalogues, books, art guides, and magazines. Italy is a powerhouse for the arts from publishing to the music to the years of history covered in their world-renowned museums. It is an honor to have an Italian art display dedicated to New York City. 

  • View from the Pitti Palace of the Boboli Gardens
    Art & Culture

    Gucci Sponsors New Project for Boboli Gardens

    The Boboli Garden in Florence springs into a brand new three-year restoration project thanks to a two million euro donation from Italian fashion house Gucci in collaboration with Italy’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. This 33-acre botanical space dates back to 1418 when wealthy Florentine banker, Luca Pitti, was inspired by the glorious landscape near the Arno. Forty years after purchasing the property he commissioned the foundation for the Palazzo Pitti, owned now by the Uffizi Gallery, and filled the sprawling rooms with well-known Renaissance works of art. 

    Today, Florence Mayor Dario Nardella and Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt excitedly await their collaboration with Gucci’s Creative Director Andrea Michele and CEO Marco Bizzarri to revitalize the exceptional Florentine property that pleases over one million tourists annually. This project has been deemed “Primavera di Boboli” or “Boboli Spring.”

    Gucci will distribute the funds over a three year period. The metamorphosis will include a new intricate layout of trees and flowers that bloom at various points of the year. Art conservators will revive the sculpture, revamping the unique Renaissance aesthetic that has been perfected with a Florentine flair since the before 15th Century.

    Next year, on May 29, Gucci’s Cruise Collection- a high fashion line that particularly caters to resort and summer wear- will hit the runway in the Pitti Palace’s lavish Palatina Gallery in the Boboli Garden. Today, the gallery is known for its ownership of a rare Raphael painting. Last year, the collection was showcased on a runway in London’s Westminster Abbey, as well as New York City’s Art district the year prior. Marco Bazzarri feels the future collection evokes feelings of the Renaissance masterpieces exhibited in the Palazzo Pitti and looks forward to boasting the progress of Gucci’s springtime botanical endeavors.

    The landscaping of the gardens date back to the Medici family, who commissioned Niccolo Tribolo as the head architect of beautiful grounds of the Pilazzo Pitti. Contained in the palace's collections are 16th through 18th century art commissioned and created by the Renaissance’s finest- such as of silverware, porcelain, portraiture, and sculpture.

    The Boboli Garden is a true open-air museum, irrigated by a fountain that hosts a massive statue of Neptune from 1777, similar to the one Andromeda, the mythological wife of the Medusa-killing Perseus, has on her island in the garden. An Egyptian Obelisk erected by Grand Duke Peter Leopold gives height to the rolling scenery. The Boboli Gardens embrace the classical revival of the Renaissance, while evoking Italian culture and showcasing some of the finest art in the world. These are just three examples of the dozens of adventures and stories the rolling gardens takes each passersby.

    Schmidt states that Gucci will “make the garden bloom again” with the goal of creating Italy’s very own Versailles, a truly enticing enterprise that will showcase the potential of what can happen when an inspiring high end fashion powerhouse connects with the history of the luxurious Renaissance past. The result is a creation of an innovative garden in one of the world’s greatest cities. The world is everyone’s runway.

  • Plotkin and Rustioni at Casa Italiana, Photograph by Molly Engelman
    Art & Culture

    Inspiring Interview with 34-year-old Met Maestro Daniele Rustioni

    On April 11, La Casa Italiana hosted opera expert Fred Plotkin for an inspiring interview with 34-year-old maestro Daniele Rustioni. Together they discussed Rustioni's recent debut in the renowned Giuseppe Verdi Opera, Aida, at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera. They also touched on his journey to success, inspirations, aspirations, and much more. Plotkin began with the phrase largo ai giovani or “make way for the young ones,” a fitting start for such a budding talent.

    Rustioni’s first musical experience, other than listening to his mother sing, was voice choir at the age of eight at La Scala in Milan, where he fulfilled his instrument requirement with the cello–the instrument he feels most closely resembles the human singing voice. He explains that one must complete a one decade composition course before beginning conducting courses; luckily Rustioni started at the age of eleven. Describing himself as "old school," Rustioni feels that taking up piano, cello, and singing has aided his success today. When he receives a new score, he will play through it himself and sing the words before approaching the orchestra.   

    His first experience conducting was at the age of 21 in Abruzzo at the Pescara Academy, where he was the maestro for a mixed orchestra of retired and current professionals and students. Though he struggled with self-doubt in the beginning, and realized how truly difficult it was to produce–and audibly portray–what he had in mind through the orchestra, his fascination for conducting became a passion, and he knew he was following his calling. 

    Delving into the technique of being a maestro, he states, “You are constantly learning at the podium; the orchestra is your best teacher.” He elaborates by referring to something he calls the "maestro’s aura," or the energy passed from the conductor to the orchestra that truly connects the orchestra to the desired sound. This aura is passed not only through the waving of the conductors arms, keeping time, and giving cues, but also through his eyes, his movements, and of course, lots of practice and communication.

    “A conductor changes the sound of an orchestra,” explains Rustioni, saying that conductors should not even have to speak the same language as the people in the orchestra, commenting on the time he spent conducting in Sankt-Peterburg, Russia. It is the maestro’s job to connect the stage to the orchestra; that is his main duty, and an extremely difficult one. In the end, what is produced by the orchestra is the vision of the maestro. “Music is a way of transmitting our feelings,” Rustioni stated, "They can simply use opera terminology along with unspoken communication to transmit a successful sound."

    The suspense finally broke when Fred Plotkin inquired about Daniele Rustioni’s experience with the impressive cast members of Aida, a Verdi Opera that takes place in Egypt. Rustioni comments on how he must work as a conductor with the cast and the orchestra–both separately and together. For example, the character Aida is played by Krassimira Stoyanova, who as Rustioni describes, has a very different italianità. Plotkin agrees, and further adds that Stoyanova had him “on the edge of his seat” because her style was both unique and wonderful.

    Rustioni explained that there is an adjusting process that occurs during rehearsal and a connection that needs to be constructed between the conductor and the performers. “She is a singer and an artist,” Rustioni said as he described the way Stoyanova reads a score and sings it without listing to recordings; this is her own method of envisioning the pieces and perfecting them. “When you find an artist like this, you want them to be who they are,” adds Rustioni. It is the maestro's job to match the orchestra to the stage, not vice versa. 

    He speaks highly of the other main members as well. James Morris has performed at the Metropolitan Opera many times and Riccardo Massi is a fabulous tenor. He has worked with Violeta Urmana twice before; her style greatly differs from Stoyanova, but they compliment one another quite beautifully.

    “You are managing many different types of artists and a large orchestra. Even though you are young in your career, you are very able to do this. How do you make the whole thing work when the variables are so difficult?” asks Plotkin when discussing the variety of talents on the stage, to which the maestro answers with one simple word: “rehearsal.” He goes on to explain that even though he and Violeta worked together before, they have to adapt to each other each time. As a conductor, one needs to know also how much the orchestra is able to listen and relate, keeping in mind that every orchestra is different.

    Largo ai giovani is true in this case; Daniele Rustioni’s budding career is truly impressive, but he credits the pioneers of opera such as Rossini, Verdi, Comencini and more for his success. As he boasted about Italian culture and how it radiates through the operatic scene around the world, Daniele Rustioni exclaimed, “Italy has the trademark to Opera; it was created here.” 

  • Pope Francis in Milan
    Facts & Stories

    Saints Exhibition Welcomes Pope Francis to Milan

    On Saturday, March 25, Pope Francis graced the Lombardy capitol Milan with his holy presence, deeming this the first Papal visiting since 2012. Hundreds of thousands of revelers gathered around to hear his compelling works about our intrinsic duty to protect those less fortunate, particularly the impoverished.

    Honoring the Holy Father’s mid-Lenten visit, Curator Daniela Porro has compiled an itinerary of 44 devotional pieces that honor the Catholic tradition; most of the pieces are on loan from the Vatican Museum and Saint Peter's Treasury, among other collections that cover the periods of the 14th to the 19th centuries.

    This incredible spread of Catholic masterpieces in mediums from sculpture to oil paintings by some of the history’s most influential names. The exhibition will be available for viewing in Palazzo Reale until June 4, among these artists are Titian, Guercino, Maratta, Sodoma, and more. Palazzo Reale is one of the most influential cultural centers in Italy and is known for hosting internationally renowned works of art since its conversion to a museum from a royal palace and government building at the turn of the 20th century. 

    The exhibition is divided into three sections focuses on Italy’s beloved saints Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Catherine of Siena, as well as Milan’s patrons Saint Ambrose and Saint Carlo Borromeo. There is also a showcase of the first century patrons Saint Peter and Saint Paul.  Both the selected depictions of the saints and the exhibited artwork demonstrate the diffusion of religion in Italy and represent spirituality throughout Italy.

    Angelo Caloia, the chair of the promotional committee states "we couldn't have the Pope in Milan without also having an event that honored His Magistracy.” Many were granted the opportunity to pray with the Pope outside Milan’s gothic style Duomo, to whitness him pray over and dine with the inmates and staff in the St. Vittore Prison, and to celebrate outdoor mass with the him and 14 Cardinals in Monza Park.

    The final stop before returning to the Vatican was at Milan’s Saint Siro Stadium where His Holiness addressed a crowd of 80,000 people strong. Among them was an invited congregation of adolescents who have either recently completed their confirmation- or are in the process of completing it. Pope Francis offered them a special blessing, including their parents and sponsors.

    It was a special occasion for Milan who met the Pontiff for this first time this weekend; in 2012 his predecessor Benedict XVI visited and before that was Saint John Paul II's bi-visitation in the 1980s.

    From the historic works of art depicting the Catholic Church’s adored saints, to the influential words of Saint Francis about humility and helping the poor, Milan was blessed and honored to have hosted the Holy Father this weekend. 

  • Art & Culture

    Italian Makeup Artists Win Oscar

    Talent, hard work, and competition are the three ingredients that have kept the Academy Awards thriving since 1929. Although many left the ceremony victorious, one group that emerged particularly proudly is the Italian community. Italian makeup artists Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Nelson took home the Oscar for “Best Makeup” in the action thriller movie Suicide Squad, which triumphed over Star Trek Beyond and A Man Called Ove.

    As many people know, each acceptance speech must be kept brief or else an orchestra chimes in to politely to remind the victor to wrap it up. Bertolazzi's speech was definitely brief; however it contained a powerful message: “I am an immigrant,” he stated proudly before continuing, “I come from Italy, and I work around the world; this is for all the immigrants,” he chanted as he held his Oscar high in the air, his teammates on either side with smiles beaming on their faces.

    The words resonated through the air and floated over the room sparkling with gold and Hollywood’s elite. Though Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary about the African immigration crisis in Italy called Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea) did not take the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, the Italian community still spoke on behalf of the immigrants in this country and around the word through Bertolazzi’s short and meaningful statement.

    It is no surprise that Suicide Squad took the prize for best makeup. What would Harley Quinn be without her iconic red and blue eye shadow with corresponding pigtails, or the Joker’s disturbing white clown like mask and facial scarring, or Deadshot’s Bane-like covering? Each look was perfectly executed by Alessandro Bertolazzi and his incredible design team, resulting in an award winning film. 

Pages