Articles by: N. L.

  • Art & Culture

    Save a New York City Landmark – Save Rizzoli

    “Everything there is to know is written in the New York Times article and all the other numerous articles that have come out recently. There so many of them but they all basically say the same thing.

    All I know is that there are many online petitions to save the building from demolition. They're collecting thousands of signatures so that the building can be declared a landmark to be preserved and therefore saved.”

    The anonymous employee of the Rizzoli bookstore at 31 West 57th Street is agitated, understandably as they all are fighting hard to save the place they have called home for the past 30 years.

    “Everybody is asking us what is going on, all our faithful customers are pretty shocked and upset. Both the Italian and the American communities are coming over to ask, every single day, if there is anything they can do to help. We have received plenty of messages, and people are concerned not just for us but for all what's happening on 57th street, as many other buildings, including the one hosting the Steinway showroom, are facing the same, or a similar, threat.”

    On January 14th, the New York Times published an article by Charles Bagli by the title “Bookstore May Have to Flee the Wrecking Ball, Again.” In it the author announced that the owners of the site “the LeFrak real estate family and Vornado Realty Trust — recently gave the bookstore the bad news: They plan to demolish the six-story, 109-year-old building, as well as two small, adjoining buildings.” The bookstore therefore needs to find a new location, as it did 30 years ago when it arrived on 57th street from another store not too far away on Fifth Avenue (on 712 Fifth Avenue, next to the Coty Building and near both the Doubleday and Scribner’s bookstores).  

    To many a store, especially a book store, is just a store, and books now are considered so obsolete. But the truth is Rizzoli is more than that, it is a reality to step into, three floors of beautiful books that make you travel all around the world, to different countries and eras, to meet your favorite celebrities or read about kings and warriors, to learn about Italy and its beautiful language, delicious food and multifaceted art. The store is also “an impressive example of adaptive reuse of a former piano showroom into a retail space and one of the few remaining examples of architecturally significant bookstores in an era where bookstores are increasingly threatened.”

    “The building, designed by architect Randolf Almiroty who, unfortunately is virtually unknown to architectural history, itself is identified by the bookstore that has been there for decades,” our source continues, “but we're not concerned only about the shop alone, new yorkers love this place that is an icon of New York City architecture and one of the most beautiful commercial spaces in America . It is a pity to see it destroyed.”

    How can it be saved? It has to be declared a landmark building, but as of now “The Landmarks Preservation Commission, whose mission is “to be responsible for protecting New York City’s architecturally, historically, and culturally significant buildings,” has declined to grant landmark status to the building on the grounds that the property “lacks the architectural significance necessary to meet the criteria for designation,” despite the Community Board voting unanimously in favor of designating 31 W 57TH Street a landmark in 2007.”

    Peg Breen, President of NY Landmarks Conservancy, has publicly declared that “it’s unlikely at this point that the three little gems, the Rizzoli building and its two neighbors, will be saved unless a public backlash is strong enough to convince city officials otherwise. This brought the creation of Save Rizzoli, “a movement by private citizens concerned with the prospect of a culturally and architecturally significant New York building being destroyed.”

    They can be contacted at [email protected]

    And the petition can be signed at

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Torrone. It is Not Holiday Without You

    Growing up in Italy, you can always count on an uncle, a classmate or your father’s coworker to sooner or later present you with torrone. You can enjoy it all by yourself, share it with a loved one or leave it out for Santa so he can have a midnight snack. This most popular Italian nougat candy—which, together with pandoro and panettone, has become a symbol of an Italian Christmas—is basically made of honey, sugar, and egg whites, filled with toasted almonds or other nuts, covered in edible rice paper, and usually shaped into a rectangular tablet.

    According to some, its story goes back to the Roman Empire. A sweet candy made of honey, egg whites, and almonds is mentioned in De re culinaria, a collection of Roman cookery recipes thought to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD by Marco Gavio “Apicio” (Aupicius). Yet there are other hypotheses. One of the most plausible is that torrone has Middle Eastern origins and was imported by the Venetians, who had intense commercial exchanges throughout the Mediterranean. This mixture of almonds, honey, sugar and oriental spices became popular in the Middle Ages. Between 1100 and 1150 Geraldo da Cremona translated a book by Abdul Mutarrif, a doctor from Cordoba, which extolls the benefits of honey and mentions an Arabian sweet named “turun.”

    But enough of theories—Italian torrone has a very specific date and place of origin. On October 25, 1441, Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza celebrated their wedding in Cremona (Lombardy). For the grand reception, the court pastry chefs prepared a sweet called torrazzo whose shape represented the town’s tower (in Cremonese dialect torrione).
    Today torrone is considered a national sweet in Italy and almost every town has its own recipe. So obviously there are many varieties.

    The first and biggest difference is between hard (friabile) and soft (morbido) torrone. The different textures are the result of several factors. First, the length and temperature of cooking. Hard torrone cooks for a longer period of time, sometimes as long as ten hours, especially for some traditional recipes. Equally important is the amount of candied fruit added, the ratio of honey and sugar, and the quantity of egg whites in the mixture. Soft torrone, on the other hand, is cooked for no more than three hours. That results in a higher concentration of water that, combined with a greater percentage of glucose, yields a softer dough.
    Other differences have to do with ingredients. Since all torrone makers add their local products to the mix, the ingredients change from region to region. In Sardinia, for example, myrtle and arbutus berries are added; in Lombardy they produce chocolate-covered torrone; in Abruzzo, brown torrone with chocolate and hazelnuts; in Veneto, torrone with dried almonds; in Sicily, torrone with pistachios; and in Campania (typically in Benevento) they make a crumbly version of torrone with hazelnut.


    Torrone is easy to make at home, so easy that kids can prepare it with their grandmothers as part of their family Christmas tradition, and the recipe can be adapted to suit just about anyone’s taste. It is best made in the winter, when temperatures are cool and dry. If made on a warm, humid day, the mix may get sticky and not set properly. Until recent years torrone was available from October through January, but today it is sold throughout the year. Keep in mind however that torrone is highly caloric and it is better not to overdo it. Yet exceptions can always be made for Christmas. Even Santa can’t say no to a chunk of torrone on his nightshift!.

  • Art & Culture

    Le Conversazioni Films of My Life with Taymor and Eugenides

    Everybody has done it at least once in their life: you sit down with a bunch of friends and you talk about your favorite films. What scared you when you were little, or what inspired you to become who you are today. You sit down, you remember your favorite parts, some lines of dialogue or the crazy costumes that actor wore and you have a conversation. In the case of Le

    Conversazioni, Films of my Life, held at The Morgan Library, the conversation took place between Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor (The Lion King, Frida, Titus), Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex, The Virgin Suicides,The Marriage Plot) and Antonio Monda, writer, professor and artistic director of Le Conversazioni literary festival.

    Le Conversazioni, is an event created by Antonio Monda in collaboration with co-curator Davide Azzolini, and it is inspired by everything that is art, theater, literature, dance and film. The main event, Le Conversazioni Scrittori a Confronto (freely translated as “writers face to face,”) which started back in 2006, takes place in Capri, an idyllic island on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, during the summer (end of June-beginning of July) and writers from all over (past guests include Michael Chabon, Alessandro Baricco, Jonathan Franzen and Sandro Veronesi) discuss, in front of a small audience, the theme of the season (victory vs defeat, politically correct and eros among others).

    Since 2009 part II of Le Conversazioni takes place in New York City, but the sun and breeze of a summer day in Capri are substituted by the elegance and prestige of The Morgan Library. It's not just the venue that changes, but the formula of the conversation is different as well. At the beginning the topic discussed always was Beauty but then in 2011 the theme switched to Films of my Life. Guests have to present four of their favorite films. A specific scene is viewed and, following an explanation of why that particular film was chosen and is important to the artist, there is a conversation between all parties involved.

    This is not just a moment to hear what big stars like to watch, but it is an opportunity to learn what has influenced their work, to understand their style better and even to learn about films you have never heard of before, so you can go home, watch it and maybe have your own conversation about it with your friend... it becomes a chain reaction, in a way.

    So, strangely and not on purpose, Julie Taymor had picked only very theatrical, black and white films. Films that don't just tell a story but invite the spectator to think. Her picks: the period drama Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa (1950, the film is known for its narration format, where various characters provide alternative and contradictory versions of the same incident), the propaganda piece Yo soy Cuba (I am Cuba) by Mikhail Kalatozov (1964, the film is known for its acrobatic tracking shots and the use of infrared film obtained from the Soviet military), the war drama The Informer by John Ford (1935, the film was nominated for six Academy Awards winning four) and Fellini's masterpiece Le Notti di Cabiria (1957, the film, written by Fellini himself and starring Giulietta Masina, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film).

    Jeffrey Eugenides, who lightened the mood trying to connect all his choices by the “nudity” thread, picked Walkabout by Nicolas Roeg (1971, a film noted for its cinematography based on the novel Walkabout by James Vance Marshall), The Swimmer by Frank Perry and Sidney Pollack (1968, surreal, allegorical tale is based on the 1964 short story by John Cheever), the comedy-drama Sideways by Alexander Payne (2009) and the musical drama Nashville by Robert Altman (1975, the film has 24 main characters, an hour of musical numbers, and multiple story lines).

    There must be at least one you have not seen and that has peaked your curiosity, so go ahead, watch it and then have a conversation about it with your friends. That's the way to do it.

  • Presenting the 23rd Edition of N.I.C.E.

    N.I.C.E. New Italian Cinema Events, the Italian film festival directed by Viviana del Bianco
    and Grazia Santini, is back in the United States for its 23rd N.I.C.E. USA edition. The series of eight new Italian films by debuting directors premiered in New York City at Tribeca Cinemas on November 11th and it will end on the 14th. Then it will move to San Francisco (November 13th-17th at the ClayTheatre) and to Philadelphia (December 5-8).

    This year's theme is here summed up by the words of the organizers: “Italian society is forced to face the problem of unemployment which is increasing every day: it is now very difficult to keep a job or to find a new one, to receive the uninterrupted flow of people fleeing poverty, the horrors of war, persecution, or to control and adapt to the new technologies that are changing the rhythm of our lives both financially and humanly. Our relationship with nature is also becoming increasingly difficult to control: climate change causes flash floods, earthquakes destroy our cities and our most industrious towns, causing the "disorientation" of thousands of people; not to mention our political situation which contributes to enhance all kinds of social tensions... All of this, in the last decade, has had a great influence on the themes of the films that we have presented in our film series. Our all-time custom is to showcase films that take into account a variety of genres. Coincidentally, not only dramas, but also bright and lightweight comedies have nowadays the tendency to highlight our country's social, family and political struggle, by offering our audiences an opportunity for a deeper knowledge of our reality and for reflection, in addition to pure entertainment.

    Unfortunately, for all the reasons mentioned above, our 23rd festival in San Francisco, which we had hoped it could be stronger than usual to celebrate the Year of the Italian Culture in the United States, will be reduced in the number of days of programming and screenings. The quality of our selection, however, is unchanged, therefore none of the films presented should be missed!”

    The following are the films that can be ejoyed at N.I.C.E.: The Ideal City, the film debut of actor Luigi Lo Cascio as a director, is the harsh recount of the vicissitudes of one great environmentalist, who moves from Palermo to Siena in Tuscany, to denounce civil unconsciousness, judicial drifts, social indifference, and the gear of the public system and order. The film portrays the difficulties to stick to the truth and how the simplest situations can lead to misunderstandings of all kinds. A film echoing Francesco Rosi's civic engagement and Leonardo Sciascia's indignation and moral tension.

    Out of the Blue, the second feature film by Edoardo Leo, is a brilliant comedy featuring a great cast: the story starts off with the surprise arrival of an unheard-of daughter, unexpected by her father, a young and rampant man, rather selfish, who gradually improves himself by becoming a tender heart. Several entertaining twists keep the audience enthralled.

    Cosimo and Nicole, the second feature film by Francesco Amato, was born from the desire to tell the wandering life of a young couple facing today's problems in Europe. Compelling, romantic and by no means trivial, the story showcases a fresh idea of cinema that is free from any labels or sense of nationalism, providing an unconditioned and personal look.

    Balancing Act, the second feature film by Ivano De Matteo, shows how ephemeral the boundary between wealth and poverty can be, when tragic and sometimes ironic events disrupt the rhythm of a man's quiet family life, following his mistake of betraying the trust of his loved ones.

    Alì Blue Eyes, the second feature film by Claudio Giovannesi, portrays the difficulties arising in today's multi-ethnic society and the vitality and complexity of adolescence, exacerbated by a turbulent quest for identity. Nader, an Egyptian boy born in Rome, is stuck between the laws of religion and the ones of his father, between the rules of the past and the Western culture of the Italian present. The love for an Italian girl, which he lives almost in secret and against the banning of his parents, affects Nader's choices, who somehow becomes an emblem for the troubles faced by a second-generation immigrant.

    The Interval, Leonardo Di Costanzo's film debut, is the story of a broken love, a trampled poetry about the troubles of two teenagers, taken hostage in an old and abandoned hospital of Naples and waiting for the boss to arrive and determine the girl's fate. A cross-section of the violent suburbs of a contemporary Italian metropolis. A film to be also seen and appreciated for Luca Bigazzi's exceptional photography.

    Steel, Stefano Mordini's debut film based on the novel by Silvia Avallone, deals with the transition from childhood to adolescence of two beautiful girlfriends. The theme itself is delicate, but it becomes more difficult to deal with within the industrial context of the suburbs of Piombino. A series of fascinating shots highlights the contrast between the beautiful sea overlooked by Piombino's steaming chimneys and the Island of Elba, somehow both near and far. The grueling work pace in the steel, the forced choice between work and health and the discovery of love are the main themes of this film, in which the steel remains the undisputed leading character.

    There Will Come a Day, by Giorgio Diritti, enacts a series of universal questions about the meaning of life. The film follows the inhabitants of the Manaus favelas, which function as background for the painful story of a 30-year-old woman, interpreted by talented Jasmine Trinca. The sense of her research comes through loud and clear as the pain fades in the awareness of human precariousness and in her harmony with “the last of the Earth”. Contemplative in the first part, overwhelming like the flood in the end. Stunning photography.

    In addition to the eight films presented in competition, this year's festival features a series of special events: in New York and San Francisco the series opened, and will open, with the latest work of Silvio Soldini Garibaldi's lovers, in nomination for the Donatello Award and Nastri d’Argento. Furthermore, in collaboration with Teatri Uniti, the festival in San Francisco will present a film series by a selection of Neapolitans directors: Paolo Sorrentino, Stefano Incerti, Mario Martone and the collective film Napoli24, all testifying the continued vitality of Neapolitan cinema.

  • Events: Reports

    D'Ambrosi's Hamlet Hallucinations at La MaMa

    taly's Dario D'Ambrosi is a radical innovator of the theater who never ceases to shock. He is a former Italian soccer star and founder of the movement called Teatro Patologico (Pathological Theater). His plays investigate mental illness by grasping its vital artistic and creative aspects with the intention of restoring the "dignity of the fool."  Having staged revolutionary interpretations of "Richard III" in 1996 and "Romeo and Juliet" in 2009, he is now taking on Hamlet with a new full-length work, “Hamlet Hallucinations.”

    La MaMa E.T.C. is presenting the work's world premiere until November 3in its First Floor  Theater, 74A East Fourth Street. 

Performed entirely in English, with a script that includes selections of the Bard's soliloquies, the play is set in the graveyard and essentially presents the story from the viewpoint of the gravedigger, who is played by D'Ambrosi himself. The cast also includes two bilingual Italian actors: the Prince of Denmark is played by Giacomo Rocchini and Hamlet's hallucinations, including the characters of his father, his mother, King Claudius and Ophelia, are played by Mauro F. Cardinali.

    The theater of Dario D'Ambrosi often interprets epic and classical themes through the prism of mental illness. In this re-envisioning of  “Hamlet,” D'Ambrosi makes the Prince into a childish young man who emerges from a grave where he has been buried in a pile of skulls, companions of his past. The script focuses on his obsessions, phobias, Oedipal complexes and misogyny. In Part 1, Hamlet is crystallized in an eternal rehearsal of his tragedy, having completely lost his sense of self. He hears voices and experiences the discontinuous thoughts of a schizophrenic.

    His text includes big slices of the monologues, but has its meter broken and sometimes brutalized by direct, immediate, raving language. As Mauro F. Cardinali plays all the other characters in Hamlet's story, the audience is kept guessing about which character is hallucinating.

In Part 2, Hamlet encounters the Cemetery's Mortician, D'Ambrosi, who confronts him over his treatment of Ophelia. We are not clear if we are witnessing Hamlet's hallucination or the Mortician's. The themes are the hallucinatory nature of modernity and the evasive strength of folly. The NY Times' D.J.R. Bruckner wrote, "Any piece by Mr. D'Ambrosi is about each member of the audience. A viewer who surrenders disbelief for a moment will be carried away in an unimaginable world of chaos, wit, bewilderment, mirth, anger, disgust and a kind of sweet sadness, and will leave it with a sense of relief and loss. 

The production has scenic design by Luisa Viglietti, who designs for Lina Wertmuller, among others.

    Dario D'Ambrosi's last La MaMa production, "Medea" (2011), was presented last Spring at Wilton's Music Hall, London and was just named Best Show of 2013 by that prominent London institution, which lists as its patron HRH The Prince of Wales. D'Ambrosi first performed at La MaMa in 1980 and has been in residence there nearly every year thereafter. Rosette Lamont wrote in Theater Week, "The yearly appearance of the Italian writer/performer Dario D'Ambrosi at La MaMa is cause for celebration." He has written and directed over 14 plays, acted in 18 major films and TV movies, and written and directed three full-length films.

  • Art & Culture

    27: Verdi, his Operas & Parma

    Many different institutions have celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). Today, the interest in his operas remains undiminished and his music continues to travel around the world in live performances and recordings. The international conference Verdi's Third Century: Italian Opera Today (October 9 -13), a collaboration between the American Institute for Verdi Studies and New York University, has brought together scholars, practitioners, and critics at New York University to discuss the circulation and perception of Verdi and of Italian opera-in today's world.

    Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò opened the dances with a presentation of 27 A Documentary Filmin Progress by August Ventura. 27 are the works of Giuseppe Verdi. 27 are the members of the men-only Club of 27 in Parma. 27 are the red roses they bring to the composer’s birthplace every October 10th. (After placing them, they all sing Va Pensiero)

    “When I was a young boy of 18,” Stefano Albertini, the director of Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò recalled, “I attended the University of Parma. In my eyes, the city was obsessed with opera, even sandwiches were named after operas. And Verdi is basically considered the patron saint of the city. I heard about the 27, I just thought they were some weird old men and what they actually did was shrouded in mystery.”

    “They are guys from all walks of life, there is a pharmacist, a notary public, even a soccer celebrity, who love Verdi and love to talk about Verdi,” August Ventura, the man behind the project said. “Once they meet there are no names, no titles, they all are equal. So how do they call each other? By the titles of Verdi's Operas. So there is a Mr Rigoletto, a Don Carlos, a I Lombardi and so forth.”

    Just like in Harry Potter, where little wizards are assigned to one of the four school Houses by the Sorting Hat, it is fate that decides who becomes what. In a fragment of the documentary we witnessed an energetic interview of Alberto Michelotti, who now goes by Don Carlos, but when he joined, in 1973, he was really afraid, for a minute, that fate would assign him to Messa da Requiem, the other available name. “I was ecstatic because Don Carlos really represents me,” Michelotti, who had issues with his father, is captured saying, “it really gets under my skin, it speaks to me like nothing else.” The interview itself was a small masterpiece, Michelotti's passion could be felt by all. He talked about his job as a referee as that of a conductor where the soccer players automatically became the characters of the opera that was playing in his head. “Don Carlo,” that's how they even started to call him on the field. The ones who knew him for years knew they were part this magnificent opera.   

    But 27 is not only about the members of the club. “It is about the unique opera culture that exists in Parma and its strong connection to the work of Giuseppe Verdi,” August Ventura explained. “At a time when Italy’s opera culture is in apparent decline, this small city maintains a fierce connection to the art form, but above all to the 27 works of Giuseppe Verdi, who was born nearby, 200 years ago. Parma’s legendary ‘loggionisti’ (who can stop a performance cold with their shouts of disapproval) and the super-exclusive, men-only Club of 27 are just two expressions of this uniquely vibrant opera culture.”

    In other fragments of the documentary the audience was introduced to a lost film titled In the Mouth of the Wolf about the staging of Luisa Miller, to the Verdissime, the female counterpart of the Club of 27, where each member is named after a female character of Verdi's opera, and to high school children who lip synch to Nabucco with as much enthusiasm as participating to a hip and fun concert.

    A local is captured by Ventura's camera saying “Verdi ci da il pane,” meaning “Verdi provides for all of us.” Many are the people in the city who are able to capitalize on his name thus he is, for an additional reason, a real hero, a true citizen who still helps, 200 years later, his fellow citizens.

    27 is still a work in progress. It is an independently-produced feature-length documentary, 80+ minutes long. Over 100 hours of footage was shot over two consecutive Octobers (2011 and 2012) in and around Parma during its Festival Verdi. 27 is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas whose 501(c)3 designation makes it eligible to receive tax-deductible donations that will help with the completion of the film.

  • Events: Reports

    @ MOMA: Dante Ferretti Design and Construction for Cinema and Designing for the Big Screen

    The Museum of Modern Art honors Italian production designer, art director and costume designer for films Dante Ferretti (Macerata, 1943) with a large-scale multimedia installation comprising a 12-screen labyrinth featuring projected scenes from his work; original set pieces from the films that earned him three Academy Awards; and a six-month retrospective of 22 films featuring the production designer’s career defining work.

    Dante Ferretti: Design and Construction for the Cinema, on view from September 28, 2013, through February 9, 2014, features large-scale, original set pieces recovered from sets designed by Ferretti, including the chandeliers from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) and the massive, illuminated clock from Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011), as well as sculptural objects created for the Venice Film Festival. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a 12-screen labyrinth installed in the Roy and Niuta Titus theater lobby galleries, onto which designs from numerous Ferretti films will be projected.

    The film program, Dante Ferretti: Designing for the Big Screen, opens on September 25, 2013, and features 22 films in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters, including Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002), Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), and Federico Fellini’s Ginger e Fred (1986), for which Dante Ferretti’s sets helped to guide directorial practice with signature distinction. Ferretti himself will be introducing the screening of The Age of Innocence on September 25 at 7.00 pm. He is scheduled to introduce  the screenings of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen on the 26 and Titus (along with director Julie Taymor) on the 27.

    Presented in collaboration with Luce Cinecittà, Rome, both exhibitions are organized by Ron Magliozzi, Associate Curator, and Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art; with Antonio Monda, author and professor, New York University; and Marina Sagona, artist.

    Since 1969 Ferretti has served as the production designer on over 50 feature films, 24 opera productions, and over a dozen television, museum, fashion, festival, and publication projects, working with the likes of fashion icon Valentino and directors Liliana Cavani and David Cronenberg, among others. His career-defining work has been done in collaboration with filmmakers Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini, and Martin Scorsese. In Italy, North America, and Britain, he has also created designs with directors Luigi Comencini, Marco Ferreri, Elio Petri, Sergio Citti, Mario Camerini, Franco Zefferelli, Ettore Scola, Dino Risi, Marco Bellocchio, Luigi Zampa, Franco Brusati, Luciano Salce, Tim Burton, Brian DePalma, Terry Gilliam, Julie Taymor, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Martin Brest, Neil Jordan, and Anthony Minghella. He has won three British BAFTAs, several Italian David Di Donatello, and three Academy Awards for Best Art Direction for The Aviator, Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Hugo. He had seven previous nominations. In addition, he was nominated for Best Costume Design for Kundun.

    In 2012, he designed the decor for restaurant Salumeria Rosi on Manhattan's Upper East Side, “consisting of a theatrical dining room combining faux-Roman statues and peeling-paint Pompeii-like frescos with recessed spotlights, red walls, and modern white leather armchairs.”

    Dante Ferretti: Design and Construction for the Cinema examines design practice for film

    through the lens of Ferretti’s work, which is distinguished by the structural role it plays in the

    collaborative process of cinema art. As digital technology transforms the way films are staged,

    replacing the real with the virtual, Ferretti’s work comes at what may be the end of a 100-yearlong tradition of full-scale, studio-built environments for films. This exhibition also serves to vdocument this transitioning of cinema practice through its selection and organization of drawings, large-scale installations, and digital projection. Sketches, drawings, and design objects arevinstalled throughout the three floors to further illuminate the artistic practice of one of the masters vof the craft.

    Dante Ferretti: Designing for the Big Screen, the accompanying 22-film retrospective,

    explores Ferretti’s role in conceiving, for each project, a single set piece intended to stimulate the vdirector’s imagination and crystallize the visual style and character of the film. Indulging his vpreference for both dreamlike and historical subjects, and drawing on his knowledge of painting, vsculpture, and poetry, Ferretti categorizes his designs as ―period (Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, v1975), ―fantasy (Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 1988), or ―contemporary v(Elio Petri’s Todo Modo, 1976). Inspired by the grand-scale, operatic traditions of classical Italian vcinema, Ferretti’s work is most effectively viewed as it was originally intended: on the big screen.

    Other films to be screened include Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire

    Chronicles (1994), Anthony Minghella’s Cold Mountain (2003), and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo

    (2011), Shutter Island (2010), and The Aviator (2004).

    For the program:

    Design and Construction for Cinema

    and Designing for the Big Screen

    11:00 a.m.–Exhibition Viewing
    11:30 a.m.–Conversation with Dante Ferretti and MoMA Curators
    12:00 p.m.–Film Screening of Todo Modo (1976) Directed by Elio Petri, 120 mins.

    The Museum of Modern Art honors Dante Ferretti with a large-scale multimedia installation and a six-month retrospective of 22 films featuring the production designer's career-defining work. The exhibitions are on view September 25, 2013–February 9, 2014.

  • Facts & Stories

    Sant'Agata de' Goti and Bill de Blasio

    Sant'Agata de' Goti is a pretty Italian comune in the provice of Benevento, Campania. Its name comes from from the Gascony family De Goth who reigned there in the 14th century and its spectacular Gothic church of the Annunziata dating back to the 13th century, houses 15th-century frescoes, and a diptych of the Annunciation dating to the same age.

    Touring Club Italiano (Italy's major national tourist organization) nominated it one of the best  small towns in Italy because “Historians assert that this picturesque town, hidden among the moss terrace between the two tributaries of the river Isclero and not far from Mount Taburno, rose up on the site of the Samnite city of Saticula in 313 B.C. The internal roads are still man-sized, their toponymy recalls function or form: vicolo Stretto (narrow), via Fontana (fountain), vicolo del Forno (oven), for example, is what all the streets of Sant’Agata are like: a pleasure for the eyes and the mind.”

    The sights that cannot be missed are, in addition to the Church of the Annunziata, the Duomo, preceded by an ample portico formed by twelve ancient columns in the Baroque style; the church of S. Menna and its rug of mosaics in Cosmati style, (one of the oldest in southern Italy) and the Hall of Coats of Arms, within the Bishop’s Palace,  that features the images of 68 bishops, indicative of the importance of the local diocese.

    Lately this rare gem has been in the news and it is not for its great cuisine or artistic heritage... the entire town has a say in the upcoming elections of New York City's Mayor. Indeed everybody is rooting for Bill de Blasio, whose family has roots in.... yes, Sant'Agata de' Goti itself. De Blasio's ancestors, his grandparents to be exact, left Italy in the early 1920's looking to fulfill their American dream.

    De Blasio often said that his grandfather is the person who influenced his life the most, “an old Italian man with an accent that was nearly incomprehensible... He only had 70 years to get comfortable with English.”

    Many relatives (aunt Adele, cousins Arturo, Luigi and Roberta) still reside in Sant'Agata de' Goti, mostly cousins who keep in touch with the Democratic candidate. A few traveled to New York during the summer just to give him a hug and support.

    Carmine Valentino, the town's mayor openly said that “Our city is proud to be the hometown of Bill de Blasio's family. We are supportive of his campaign to become New York City's first citizen and we are proud to be a part of his life. We are happy his notoriety is reaching our town and our small community.”

    “He speaks Italian well because he studied in an Italian school in Brooklyn and he is also a fan of Napoli's soccer team,” Arturo Mongillo, one of Bill De Blasio's cousins said.
    "Everybody knows him in Sant'Agata de' Goti … he is very popular everywhere,” his cousin Roberta Mongillo said. The two met in New York during the summer. “When we exited the restaurant tons of people wanted to take pictures with him... and he was kind, welcoming and available with everybody. People even posed with him for pictures. I am confident he can make it.”  

    Carmine Valentino proposed to offer Bill de Blasio honorary citizenship. “De Blasio never forgot his origins and he is still connected to his hometown. In our next city council meeting we will discuss how to proceed with the citizenship process.”

    Bill de Blasio was originally born Warren Wilhelm, and legally changed his last name to his mother's maiden name. “De Blasio's family has come a long way since his Italian grandparents emigrated to the United States with little in their pockets and he believes that the further he takes his career, the closer he must stick to his roots. De Blasio knows that his grandfather's olive skin and thick curls would face scrutiny under Arizona laws if he were alive today. "That gives me perspective," he said.” ( writes)

    If de Blasio wins, he will become New York City's first Democratic, Italian-American mayor since Vincent Impellitteri. His term ended in 1953. And he will not be the only NY politician with an Italian background: along with Andrew Cuomo, current governor of New York, they would be the two most powerful state politicians of Italian-American descent.

  • Facts & Stories

    Verdi's Music from Milan's La Scala to Enchant the MIT Campus

    In the year of the celebrations for the 200th  anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi’s birth, the Cameristi della Scala, the Chamber Orchestra founded in 1982 and formed by musicians from the Orchestra of La Scala and the La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra  will offer an exclusive program, absolutely unique in the international music’s world. It contains “Fantasie” from Verdi’s operas, composed in the 19th century by important Italian composers, among them Verdi’s friends and his coworkers. These pieces, gifts and celebrations to the greatness of the composer from Busseto, were lying forgotten and unedited in world libraries. Now found, transcribed and revisited,  they will now be played for the first time in our modern times.

    These “Fantasie” from Verdi’s operas, represented a very important way to spread Verdi’s music, in a time where there was no possibility of reproducing music except from a live concert. These are re-elaborated versions, that we could easily call covers, which is a sign of how incredibly popular the original themes to which they refer were. It will be possible to hear and experience the most famous melodies from Verdi with the virtuosity of the orchestra and its soloists. The dates of the tour are:

    October 7 – Boston: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kresge Auditorium/ October 8 –Providence: Brown University; October 9 – Washington: Library of Congress,  Coolidge Auditorium; October 10 – New York: Carnegie Hall and October 11 – Miami.

    The tour starts at MIT, a place not really known for classical music but known for its special relationship  with an important Italian company: ENI. ENI is a multinational oil and gas company, present in 79 countries, and currently Italy's largest industrial company.

    The strategic Eni-MIT partnership agreement was signed in February 2008 in Cambridge (MA) by CEO Paolo Scaroni and MIT President Susan Hockfield (Rafael Reif is now President). The partnership has seen the start of two important research programs worth $5m a year each: the Mitei Founding Member and the Solar Frontier Program. The latter has led to creation of the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center (SFC), opened in May 2010, representing an appreciable, visible acknowledgment of Eni’s commitment to solar research in the USA.  

    President Barack Obama in a historic visit to the campus, October 23, 2009, visited the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Research Center. During a tour of MIT research labs, President Obama left his signature for MIT students on a piece of equipment in the Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory.

    The Eni-MIT partnership enjoys great international prestige  due to the quantity and level of the talent involved, and has contributed to boosting Eni’s reputation in the United States. Eni has also become MIT’s first industrial sponsor. The international network revolving around MIT is also a key factor promoting access to difficult and/or critical information, such as information on China’s economic and energy development, thanks to work with Tshingua University, a center of technological excellence near Beijing which works with MIT.

    Eni is a Founding Member of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), in which numerous multinational companies participate through specific research programs, including, in the oil&gas sector: BP, Shell, Chevron, Saudi Aramco, Schlumberger and Weatherford. The MITEI program has a fixed quota for governance and embryonic research (Seed Fund). Eni’s projects are oriented toward meeting the needs of the division: study of unconventional fossil fuel resources, environmental sustainability, and fine-tuning of ways of improving the performance of fuels, particularly diesel fuel. 

    The Solar Frontiers Center is a real laboratory with the Eni logo on the MIT campus in Cambridge. The  laboratory hosts tests, experiments and research into materials and structures for sustainable use of solar energy. It stands out for the results it has achieved in the field of organic solar cells on paper (paper pv cells), for Renewal of the Eni – MIT partnership Cambridge - 11 February 2013 which it has come up with a productive process, in addition to the new architecture of thermodynamic plants for  satisfying new markets and improving operating conditions.

    The principal governance structure in the Eni-MIT partnership is the Joint Steering Committee, with the participation of Eni, MITEI and SFC representatives; the organization plays a role of guidance and control, meeting twice a year to discuss the implementation and evolution of programs and operative and administrative aspects of projects and strategic nodes.  In addition to this committee, MIT figures coordinate the programs in a structure mirroring Eni’s: one for Mitei, the supervisor of which (Dr. Bob Armstrong) coordinates the portfolio of division and corporate projects; one for the Solar Frontiers Center, the scientific directors of which (Dr. Vladimir Bulovic and Dr. Moungi Bawendi) coordinate R&D work and resources/know-how for development of solar energy. Numerous technical meetings have been held for the projects underway, and Eni researchers and experts go to Boston at various times during the year for seminars, project meetings and collaborative work. 

    Since the partnership began, it has produced around one hundred scientific publications and 25 patent applications. These figures make the partnership with MIT the most important of Eni’s partnerships in terms of production of original ideas and publications. There has been a particular focus on these aspects right from the start, in view of Eni’s strong vocation for publication, to make the most of the results by patenting them without giving up the opportunity for scientific publication. The system has been proven effective and represents an innovative form of partnership between the academic world and industry, even in MIT’s experience.

  • Facts & Stories

    MRKET: A Word with Pier Paolo Celeste

    How is the show going and what is the feedback from the companies attending?

    We are very happy with the outcome. In addition to what they are telling us we
    know we have prepared everything pretty well. We were comforted both by the numbers, which are increasing on the American market mostly for everything that is menswear, and by our preparation on the American front. The Italian Trade Commission offers a service where we contact the best local buyers and we get feedback from the way before the actual event takes place. We want them to report to Italian companies what they will have to deal with when they get here in the US. It is incorrect to think that a show is just three days of showcasing your own product. It must be prepared thoroughly ahead of time. We send invitations to selected people (about 3-4k people throughout the US) that are key players in the menswear network. The American male consumer has now understood that paying a little more for a certain product is not only a great tribute to Italian creativity and quality, but it is an investment in a better end product that is unique and lasts over time.

    Italy always means high quality...

    Yes, high quality, and great attention to the product. Here we have producers that constantly look for new motifs, colors, brands, styles.. what they bring is not just a product that is thought of and made in Italy, it is an international product for an international man.

    What is mostly wanted by the American man? Shoes?
    Our numbers show that everything is admired and wanted the same way. Knitwear is loved for the quality of its threads, its unique colors and its long life. Outerwear is a classic that is the product of a long tradition of high quality manufacturing. We are famous for our ties that have exclusive designs and are made with the finest silk. Shoes can last even twenty years... so if preserved well, an Italian product is something that will last you a lifetime.

    There are here today some companies that had stopped coming to the US and now are back...

    There was a moment when the American market stalled. Some of our Italian companies could not afford to be on a market where there were no sales. So they looked elsewhere. Now many are back. Their product is of such good quality, so unique and creative, and their name is so respected that coming back was easy. Italy always goes for quality so it is like saying that if an Italian company is missing, quality is missing.. it is not an exaggeration, that's really the way it is.