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Articles by: Marina Melchionda

  • Life & People

    Italian Excellence. A Field for Every Alphabetical Letter

    Many people refer to Italy as the country of pizza and mandolin, the land that gave birth to geniuses such as Michelangelo and Leonardo.  

    On December 2 the Consul General Francesco Maria Talò explained to an audience of students at Montclair University (NJ) that our country is this and much, much more.  
     

    In his lecture "From Pizza to PhD, from Dante to DNA: updating the image of Italy" he introduced the greatest Italian accomplishments in alphabetical order. His lecture was the second of a series instituted by the University with the collaboration of the Coccia Institute.  The first dates back to last year, and was given by the former Ambassador of Italy at the UN, now Ambassador of Italy in Washington, Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata. 
     

    Among the public attending Consul Talò's conference were the Consul of Italy in New Jersey, Andrea Barbaria, the Founder and President of the Coccia Foundation Joseph Coccia, Jr., and his wife Elda, and its director Mary Ann Re. Among the other eminent representatives of the Italian and Italian-American community, the major of the island of Salina (Sicily) Massimo LoSchiavo.

    Consul General Talò gave his lecture with the help of slideshows, in line with his aim to modernize Italy and its image. He was also very open to answers from those attending and widely talked with them about contemporary Italy, and its political, social, and economic situation
     

    The students attenting showed to be extremely interested to the subject, and together with their professors and others attenting, asked the Consul several questions about the contemporary political and social situation in Italy. Most of them study Italian and Italian literature and culture, and are interested in visiting the country, and maybe plan to move there for a rather long period to pursue their studies. After the lecture, they all enjoyed a big and delightful Italian buffet, and had a chance to talk and exchange ideas and projects for their next future. Needless to say, the Consul's lecture made them even fonder about Italy (if possible!)
     

    We feel that the best way to report his presentation is to list below the fields in which Italy can boast its accomplishments in alphabetical order, just as he did.  
     

    A - Art  Italy is the country of the Renaissance, of which the greatest representative is Michelangelo Buonarroti, but also of famous contemporary artists, such as Giorgio Morandi. UNESCO has recently declared that Italy holds about 2/3 of the artistic heritage of the world.
     

    B - Barolo Barolo is one of the most valuable wines worldwide. Traditional Italian products such as this are exported internationally, and improved constantly through the contribution of new technological and scientific innovations in the field
     

    C - Creativity The world has benefited from Italian creativity in every phase of history. The Italian Alessandro Volta, as an example, invented the electric battery, giving birth to a new field of science. The world "voltage" was indeed coined after him. Leonardo da Vinci is another example: he was not only an artist, but also a science man and an engineer. And, finally, Guglielmo Marconi, who invented the radio. Today we have other examples of creative Italian men. One of them is Roberto Benigni, who won the Oscar prize for his movie "Life is Beautiful". 

    D - Design Design is a key factor to having success in today's economy. You need to "sell" your products. Lella and Massimo Vignelli, two Italian architects living in New York, designed the map of the city's subway system.  

    E - Emigration. Italian emigrants contributed to the modernization and progress of this country. Most of them have found a better life here and have prestigious jobs. Two of them are Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, and Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security. They are both proud Italian-Americans. Today Italy itself has become the "new America" for many, mostly Italian and African emigrants.

    F - Fashion. There are Italian boutiques spread all over New York City, and in the other big metropolis areas in the US.  We could almost say that NY's Madison Avenue has recently become our new "Little Italy", a symbol of Italian distinction in the field.  

    G - Galileo and Guidoni. 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, and celebrates the 400th Anniversary from Galileo's discoveries. Today Italian astronauts such as Umberto Guidoni honor Galileo's discoveries working with their American and foreign colleagues on new research. 
     

    H - History. Italy is the product of History: it has seen empires and conquerors on its territories, but has been reunified only recently. There has been an Italian culture for more than 2,000 years, this being the culture of Rome. 
     

    I - Industry. Italy is an industrial country in a post-industrial era., but it is its industrial capability that has been a key factor in facing the recent financial crisis. FIAT is just one of the many companies that have expanded their market recently.  Its most famous model, the Cinquecento, is now available to American drivers, thanks to its recent acquisition of Chrysler.  
     

    L - Literature. Aside from famous writers of the past such as Dante and Petrarch, we can count a significant number of writers of Italian nationality and ancestry nowadays. Among them are the Italian-American John Fante, Umberto Eco and Alessandro Baricco. 

    M - Mediterranean Diet. Mediterranean products are part of the Italians' daily life. Nutritionists and scientists also agree that our diet is the key to maintaining good health. It is important to introduce authentic Italian products in our meals. 

    N - Nobel prizes. Italy can count 20 Nobel prizes in every possible field. Some examples: Enrico Fermi won a Nobel Prize in Physics; Franco Modigliani in Economics; Rita Levi Montalcini in Medicine, Dario Fo in Literature

    O - Opera. Verdi, Rossini, Puccini: names of which everybody in the world heard about. They are the composers and writers of operas such as La Traviata, La Tosca, Il Barbiere di Siviglia. One of their major interpreters was, needless to say, the Italian singer Luciano Pavarotti.

    P - Peacekeeping. 80.000 Italian troops are deployed in the main international war areas to protect peace and the local populations. Many of these soldiers are located in Afghanistan and Iraq, and work very closely with Nato, American, and other Allied countries' soldiers.  

    Q - Quality of life. The Italian way of living is something for which we are envied. We know how to enjoy nature, art, and good food.
     

    R - Rome. Rome is commonly defined as the "caput mundi", the center of the world, for its historic, political, and religious importance. The attention of the media often focuses within its walls, just as happened when Pope John Paul II passed away: nearly every channel broadcasted the same scene. From the architectural point of view, moreover, it  is the city of the Colosseum, also of MAXXI - Museum  of Architecture of the XXI century - inaugurated just a month ago. 

    S - Sport. The most famous sport in Italy is soccer, but it is not the only one played. Our athletes have also won gold medals in swimming, fencing, and skiing, as well as many other sports.  

    T - Tools and Technology. Antonio Meucci, an Italian living in New York, was the one who invented the telephone, and gave start to a revolution in humanity's way of communicating. Italians are also the main utilizers of cellphones: we have 147 mobile phones for every 100 people, including the new-born babies! 
     

    U - University. Italy is the country where the concept was born, being that the University of Bologna was the first to be founded in the entire world. However, we recognize that it is America that can offer the best graduate education nowadays: that's why many of our smartest and best students decide to pursue their education here in the US. Nowadays most of them are members of the ISSNAF (Italian Scientists and Scholars North American Foundation), and constitute one of largest group of European scholars in this country.

    ISSNAF (Italian Scientists and Scholars North American
    Foundation), and constitute one of largest European group in

    ISSNAF (Italian Scientists and Scholars North American
    Foundation), and constitute one of largest European group i

    V - Vespa. It is a symbol of Italian life-style. Its design has been constantly improved and modernized, and is a great means of transport  in big cities where the traffic is heavy. Since the cost of gas has risen so much Vespa is becoming an American favorite as well.  
     

    Z - Zoom. "There are not many words in the Italian vocabulary that start with the letter 'Z', so I decided to use 'Zoom' to wrap up my lecture and take the occasion to thank all of you, students and researches, that listened to me with such an evident interest".

  • Art & Culture

    New York: an Apple or a Beast?

    "Continuare a vivere nello stesso appartamento con l'ex di turno perchè nessuno dei due si può permettere di pagare l'affitto di un appartamento da solo" - Living in the same apartment with your ex because none of you two can afford to pay the whole rent (From "168 ways to be a Newyorker" in "Nella Pancia della Bestia", p. 142)

    New York: An Apple to taste bite after bite, or a beast that divorces you? It can be both, and it's up to you to realize it. On December 7th the Italian journalist and photographer Michele Molinari presented his newly released book "Nella pancia della bestia" (In the Belly of the Beast) at Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò, NYC.

    Michele has spent 8 years, a fifth of his life, in the Big Apple, before moving to Buenos Aires. A dream brought him here and he went away by his own will, in search of something else: the vital necessities this city could not fulfill.
     

    In the intimate and elegant library at the second floor of the Casa, he recounted some of the most significant moments of his life in the city, answering the questions of Grazia d'Annunzio, a journalist for Vogue Italia, and those of the Italian and American public attending. He introduced the book as a recount of 12 months of experiences in New York City, a sort of journal where he collected the most ironic, significant, and challenging moments of his life here. We found the book to be an excellent "guide" for all those (Italians and non) who are planning to visit or live in New York. It is also a good source of reflection for those who are already here.

    As he recounts in the book, Michele moved to the US in his early 30s, and rented an apartment in Hell's Kitchen, which at that time was a very seedy area. "It was the only neighborhood below 110th street where I could afford a whole apartment. I love walking, and I thought it was perfect since it allowed me to get to the Village by foot". There he learned the first "rules of survival” that the city imposes on you. We all felt very close to him when he talked about his everyday battles against cockroaches and rats, both inside and outside his apartment! "I can't forget the morning when I opened the fridge and found a cockroach sunk in the coffee remaining from the day before". For an Italian, it's also hard to get used to tropical temperatures inside, when outside the thermometer indicates below zero. "As soon as I woke up I opened the window and gasped for some fresh air. It was in that moments that I realized how much I wanted to live in New York!"

    These and other episodes of the kind characterized his everyday life in New York, but he also learned to accept these "challenges" and decided to live here for much more than he had initially planned. He moved to Park Slope in Brooklyn in search of a "community to which to belong": "In Manhattan I felt alone among millions of people. On the third day I lived in Brooklyn, instead, the attendants at the café around the corner already recognized me: when they brought my "usual" cappuccino with brioche to my table without me even having to ask, I felt...happy. Something like that could never happen in Manhattan".

    Sensations, feelings, both positive and negative. Everyday challenges and discoveries, surprises and disappointments: the book is a collection of episodes of this kind. It's both a physical and psychological journey, the recount of an "immigrant" who finally became a New Yorker. "The moment in which I felt a citizen of New York for the first time? Well, when I finally understood the announcements in the subway. For the longest time I had never been able to decipher what those cawing old megaphones where saying. When I finally did, I was thrilled!"

    Landing at JFK and knowing exactly where to go and who to call, leaving at "the New York minute", planning a pizza with friends a month before to be sure that everybody was available, having visitors from Italy and knowing where to take them and avoid "the classical tourist sites", were all things that made him feel like a citizen of New York.

    But Michele did not feel to belong to this city, and went away. It was eight years after the day he first arrived and was immersed in the "belly of the beast": "Although living in Park Slope did help me a lot, I still didn't feel to have enough 'human contact' with those surrounding me. It happens that New York is a city that doesn't allow you to rest. All things different from those that can help you in the pursuit of your dreams become secondary and lateral. There is no time to make friendships, and all the people you know remain mere 'contacts' on which you can count...or not".

    We felt we needed to know more about his final decision to go away, and asked him more questions after the meeting:

    Why did you decide to move to Buenos Aires?
    I love the kind of life people carry on there. It is almost like living in Southern Italy! If you walk around your neighborhood, people wave at you and invite you inside. They show they care about you in every way.

    Do you miss New York?
    Well, I must admit that I do miss some things that I saw and lived in New York and never found anywhere else. Like the incredible respect for the environment, the parks, the organization that completely lacks in Buenos Aires. For a long time I kept living in the "New York minute” and I got used to the "chaos"

    In which area would you live if you wanted to come back?
    I would go to Park Slope again. For sure; it's the only place I could imagine living in New York, and that I miss the most.

    Are you planning to write something about your experience in Buenos Aires?
    Yes, that is actually one of my projects for the near future. I would like to recount the most significant experiences of my life in Buenos Aires accompanied by a typical recipe. I am also planning to have my book Nella Pancia della Bestia translated in English. Therefore, I am looking for a translator that knows both Italian and New York slang.

  • Life & People

    Interview with Darrell Fusaro, Author and Director of "The Basement"


     What made you decide to break the silence on your grandfather's murder?

    I felt it was the only way to resolve my grandfather’s unsolved murder. Remaining silent, out of the fear of what we might find out about my grandfather, or Mafia retaliation, took a severe toll on my family. 

     
    How has this episode affected your inner personal life and, consequently, your artistic work?
    This has given me a sense of relief and happiness. Being able to accept the bad with the good is evident in all my artistic endeavors.
    Why did you decide to produce a documentary based on the play?

    My friend Jeff Trujillo, who became the Director of the documentary, originally joined me on my trip back to New Jersey to videotape the benefit performance at Clifton High School. When we got back to Los Angeles and reviewed the footage we thought it would make a great story.

    What did your relatives do or tell you when they attended your show for the fist time?
    Every single one of them came up, hugged me and thanked me for bringing back the happy memories that had been over shadowed by the murder.


      And what about your friends from New Jersey who knew about the story?

    Not to many of my friends knew about the story because it was a well-guarded secret. But all were shocked to discover what I had gone through and had kept inside for so long.
     

    An Eye on the Past
    You performed your show both in California and in New Jersey. Did the audience react somehow differently?
    Not at all, their response was overwhelmingly similar. They all could relate. The only difference is that on the West Coast nobody experienced growing up with a basement kitchen. They found it fascinating.
    Would you define your story as "peculiarly Italian-American"?

    No, because people relate on a human level, their family’s tragedy may not be as extreme as mine, but the emotions are the same. What is “peculiarly Italian-American” and specifically an east coast Italian-American phenomenon is growing up with the basement kitchen. 
    Do you think that tragic episodes like your grandfather's murder still happen in contemporary America? Has something changed, and if yes what?
    Unfortunately things like this still happen everyday to families. I think the biggest change in forty years is that with today’s technology most of these crimes are solved and the families can get some sense of closer sooner. 
    Is there a message you want to send out through your work?

    Yes, that no matter what the obstacles are in your life, they can be overcome; you can choose to look at the positive and embrace the good you have. It may be difficult to look past these tragedies, but it can be done.


    The DVD of "The Basement"  is available to I-Italy’s readers direct from distributor for just $9.98 US. A savings of $6.00 US below suggested retail price.
    Click here to order the DVD online
    Darrell Fusaro Performing in his show "The Basement"

  • Life & People

    Going Down "The Basement" with Darrell Fusaro

    “There is nothing more rewarding after the viewing of the movie or the performance of the play than to have audience members come up and say ‘Me too’”. With these words, Los Angeles Actor, Journalist, Author and Cartoonist, Darrell Fusaro comments on the success of his play and documentary “The Basement.”

    After 40 years of silence, Mr. Fusaro recounts in his work the circumstances of his grandfather James Fusaro’s mafia-style murder. He overheard the details of his grandfather’s murder at the age of 8, while hiding in the basement kitchen. in their house in Clifton, New Jersey
     

    From that time on, his and his family’s lives had completely changed. The shame and offense that arose from such a tragedy covered its memory with a shadow of silence, a silence that finally allowed malignant suspicions to destroy the bonds within his family.

     “The Basement”, just released on DVD, is a particular kind of documentary. It can

    touch people, and the inner chords or their souls. It captures the audience in the first few minutes, and involves them in a story that is deeply moving because there could be thousands like it in America: the one of small child growing up with the image of his grandpa being killed before his eyes. “Just watching him on the stage inspires you”; “He was brave in deciding to write down this one-man-show”; “I could not stop crying, I was completely involved after the very first five minutes”: these are some of the most common comments those who went to one of the many performances inthe US and Canada shared with the media.

    It was the success of the show that induced Mr. Fusaro to produce a documentary, in collaboration with director Jeff Trujillo. The work was also acclaimed by journalists, critics, and experts in the fields. "Fusaro's gift for language and formidabile talent as an actor warms the heart and tingles the spine!" said Martin Hernandez of LA WEEKLY; “Fusaro's family is our family; but his commitment to telling its saga is surely as heroic as acting ever gets”, commented drama-logue Bruce Field.

    The work also benefited from institutional support. Guido Fink,
    Director of the Cultural Office at the Italian Consulate General of San Francisco, defined it as "An incredible true story filled with raw emotion, mystery, humor, tragedy and triumph."

    “I know what happens to a family when a murder occurs, it eats you up inside”, said Mr. Fusaro, explaining the reasons that led him to start to his personal mission of retracing the memories of this unforgotten past. Neither the police nor his family have never found out who were the authors, the instigators, or the reasons that led to the homicide. Mr. Fusaro, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, went back to his town of origin to rediscover the places and the community that functioned as the background of the story of his family from that moment on. It was when he went to play a benefit performance of his play at his alma mater Clifton High School that his friend Jeff Trujillo convinced him to transform the play to a film. It was a story that had to be shared with many other people, he thought.

    Working together evenings and weekends, they enriched the documentary with Fusaro family photographs that spanned the 20th century, and investigative phone calls Darrell had made years earlier in his quest for answers.

    Working together evenings and weekends, they enriched the documentary with Fusaro family photographs that spanned the 20th century, and investigative phone calls Darrell had made years earlier in his quest for answers.
    The outstanding images and the information collected in the documentary still needed to be accompanied by the right music.

    This is where Mr. Gaili Schoen, author of successful documentary soundtracks, such as the PBS Special, “Annie Leibovitz: A Life Through A Lens” came into play. He literally fell in love with the story and offered his collaboration to Mr. Trujillo and Mr. Fusaro.

    The movie also gain the favor of Echelon Studios, which immediately offered them a distribution deal bringing The Basement to the attention of the American and International film markets. The movie is  now available On-Demand, on Netflix, and on DVD.

    The DVD is available to I-Italy’s readers direct from distributor for just $9.98 US. A savings of $6.00 US below suggested retail price. Order the DVD online!

    An accomplished painter whose works have exhibited side by side with

    Andy Warhol’s, Darrell Fusaro is also an actor and cartoonist.

    He cartoons weekly and is a Producer of local news segments that air on CNN’s Headline News. And yet, with no pretense, he comes across as the

    regular guy next door.

    Pictures of Darrell Fusaro's family in the actual basement

  • Gianluca Galletto
    Facts & Stories

    Italy Today. Analyzing the Viruses Sickening the Country

    On the occasion of its publication in the United States, the book “Italy Today. Politics, economy, and society” (Edited by Andrea Mammone, Giuseppe A. Veltri; Routledge, 2010) was presented on November 20th at Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò. 

    The round table of journalists, economists, and socialists reunited for the occasion was led by Mr. Gianluca Galletto, organizer of the event and member of the association iMille and collaborator to i-Italy, and included: Claudio Gatti (Il Sole 24 Ore); Matthew Kaminski (Wall Street Journal); Raoul Minetti (Michigan State University); Giuseppe A. Veltri (Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, Seville, Spain).

    As Mr. Galletto pointed out in the first place, the essays collected in the book are all written in English, and thus are expressly addressed to a foreign audience rather than to the Italian one. Politics, economy, society: the work embraces a number of fields in order to offer the reader a wide retrospective and prospective of its present, past, and future.

    “When I read the book, I found it interesting that there was no political analysis, only social analysis presented. Going through the various chapters, I looked at the larger social and cultural trends and dynamics that explain why Italy is the sick man of Europe. Italy is a country where the common good is not only secondary, but is

    Individualism is so strong that the worst nickname that you would give to a person is ‘fesso’ (too altruistic)”, immediately added Mr. Galletto. Basing their opinions and comments  on the essays found in the book, the protagonists of the round table delineated the mean deficiencies of the Italian system. Each one of them focused on one or more issues and developed them.

    In order to give you a better idea of the content of the book itself, we are listing below some of the issues discussed at the Casa.

    Claudio Gatti:

    MES (Middle-and-Small) COMPANIES-BASED-ECONOMY: In Italy the family is much more important than the economy. The system is family based. The dynamics of the Italian system have thus suffered from some limits: instead of opening the doors to new members and extending their horizons, companies have preferred to remain anchored to the traditional “family-orientated-business” size and management strategies.

    UNDEVELOPED “MEZZOGIORNO”, SOUTH OF THE COUNTRY: Although it is the one of the greatest beneficiaries of support funds from Europe, the Mezzogiorno is the most undeveloped area of Italy. Money is wasted in huge quantities, destined to  incomplete infrastructure efforts and the stimulus of an economy that never takes off. The responsibility for this stagnation goes not only to Berlusconi’s government, but also to the center-left wing.  The case of Naples is enlightening in this case. In December 1993 Center-leftist Antonio Bassolino was elected major and immediately referred as the “renaissance of the city”. He has been controlling the city for 15 years but today Naples is everything but a safer place. Just to give a figure: in 1992 there were 102 organized clans, in 2006, 234.  

    Matthew Kaminski:

    PARALYZED POLITICAL SYSTEM
    . The once leader of the center-left Romano Prodi is nothing else but the spiritual brother of Silvio Berlusconi. Prodi is an outsider as well. Although being a professor with zero carisma, he beat the latter twice. Both of them promised to create a two-party system in the country, but neither of them managed to do it. Berlusconi presented himself as a transformative figure in Italy and promised to liberalize the economy. He had five years to do it, but he failed, and Prodi took over, and viceversa…

    BIASED MEDIA: Newspapers in Italy are TOO critical. It means that by being politically “oriented”, they can’t provide the public with “impartial information”. The debate is thus heavily biased, and unable to propose deep structural reforms to the present political system. 
     

    Raoul Minetti:

    LACK OF CLEAR REGULATION: Italy is a country full of laws that are often ambiguous or unclear. This pretty much paralyzes the administrative system, slows the country, and forbids it from becoming a major power in Europe.

    Giuseppe Veltri:

    LACK OF POLITICAL REPRESENTATIVENESS: 
    There is a significant detachment of the society from the political class that does not encourage and support it in its own efforts to improve the living conditions of the people “from the bottom”. The case of the Mezzogiorno is a good example to prove this argument: part of the society fights hard against the Mafia and underdevelopment. There are NGOs helping them, like Libera Terra, whose mission is to confiscate lands from the organized prime for social use.  On the other hand, politicians, both on the national and the local level, seems to be too busy resolving their own quarrels, forgetting that people voted for them and are expecting something to improve, just as promised. This is one reason why the Mafia is still so strong in Southern Italy. Nobody talks about it, the attention of the media is diverted to the numerous scandals that involve our political representatives, either Berlusconi, Bassolino, Fini, Marrazzo or whoever else.

  • Art & Culture

    New York. NICE Festival 2009… After the Funds-Cut

     All those who are passionate about Italian movies living in New York most probably have followed in the last 20 years one of the biggest events that celebrate our National cinema, the NICE ( National Italian Cinema Events). This year they were expecting it, anxious to see what the directors would propose them this year.

    Indeed, many of them barely knew about the calendar of the movies in schedule, or about the

    beginning of the festival itself. Why doesn’t the whole city talk about it as it used to do before? Why didn’t they advertise it in any manner, or let it be a “niche event”? These were some of the questions that we were asking ourselves and sought answers to.

     When we got to the Italian Cultural Institute on November 10th to attend the press conference organized for this year’s edition of “NICE” we meant to ask the director of the Festival, Mrs. Viviana del Bianco, the real reason why a veil of silence fell on the event this year. Her words were very clear: the government’s cuts to the funding destined for the cinema sector has deeply affected the industry, and is challenging the quality and image of Italian movie production both domestically and internationally.

    As we understood right away, the organization of this year’s edition of NICE is mostly entirely due to the collaboration of Mrs. Del Bianco with the Italian Cultural Institute, and more specifically, with the event’s former director, Renato Miracco, who will host three screenings of the movies selected in the month of December.

    We had a chance to talk to Mrs. Del Bianco and discuss with her this year’s edition of the Festival, and the silence surrounding it.

    The Italian Government has recently heavily cut the public budget destined for the cinema industry. What will be the main consequences of this initiative?

     We can’t preview this from happening, but those of us who work in the field had a meeting with the Minister of Cultural Affairs to ask him what to expect in the future. He didn’t give as a straight answer, but made us understand that there will be more cuts next year. 

    Could financing provided by the private sector could diminish the effects of this cuts?

     In Italy private financing destined for the cinema sector represent a very small percentage of the overall figure. We are still essentially connected to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, thus we still rely on public support. This says a lot…

    The Government, however, provides you with other types of assistance. Take the Italian Cultural Institute’s case, it is hosting the press conference and the screenings of the movies in December...

    First of all, we must remember that the Italian Cultural Institute had its own share of cuts. Even if it has been supporting us in the last two years, it does not have the right means to promote the NICE as it should. Their budget, of course, must be spent for the many events they host and promote throughout the year, and can’t be focused only on our festival. 

    Has the festival changed in any sense this year?

    Well, I adopted a new strategy. I am presenting a “new cinema”, movies produced and directed by young people, who are at the beginning of their career and need to be promoted.  We need to focus the few means we have on new proposals, new generations of filmmakers, actor and director.

     As Mrs. Del Bianco told us, the movies selected this year are: Pa-ra-da by Marco Pontecorvo; Lezione 21 by Alessandro Baricco; EX by Fausto Brizzi; La Siciliana Ribelle by Marco Amenta; Diverso Da Chi? by Umberto Cartene; La Casa Sulle Nuvole by Claudio Giovannesi and Viola di Mare by Donatella Maiorca.

     Another important novelty of this year’s edition is the collaboration with the IFC Center that, as Mrs. Del Bianco told us, “being a public theatre, is more attracting for young people.” The aim from this year on, as she further explained to us, is to introduce American youth to the new Italian Cinema. On November 12th, the IFC hosted the American preview of the movie Viola di Mare, before the NICE moved to the West Coast for a festival in Seattle (Nov 17-21) and almost simultaneously in San Francisco (Nov 15-22), organized with the support of FICE (Federazione Italiana del Cinema d’Essai) and the Seattle International Film Festival.

    During the press conference, attended by a wide audience of International and Italian journalists, we also had the opportunity to meet and interview the director of the movie Viola di Mare, Donatella Maiorca, who presented her movie together with protagonist actress Valeria Solarino and one of the producers Giovanna Emidi (Italian Dreams Factory).

    The film, we would say, is part of a contemporary current of “cinema di denuncia" (denouncing cinema), which stands against the falsification of the truth and the denial of liberty at every possible level. “The reason why we choose this film”, Mrs. Del Bianco told us, “is because one of our most important aims as NICE is to offer a new image of Italy, far from stereotypes and traditional beliefs. The picture, set in Sicily, gives a different image of the territories that are no longer portrayed as a ‘land of Mafia’.

    Donatella Maiorca’s second film has already had a strong impact on Italian audiences. Based on the book “Minchia di re” by Giacomo Pilati, it recounts the intense and unconventional love story between two young women in the mid-19th-century Sicily.    “I also must say that we kind of wanted to rehabilitate the image of Sicily to the International audience. We filmed landscapes, weather phenomena, and corners of wild nature that foreigners usually don’t see when they come to Sicily. We abandoned every possible stereotype in favor of a genuine image of the region, the side that people never see or don’t want to. It’s the first time that a movie of this kind, different for theme and environment, was shoot in these territories.”

    Aside from Viola di Mare, the Italian Cultural Institute is promoting another three of the movies selected for this year’s edition of the NICE: Pa-ra-da by Marco Pontecorvo (Dec. 1, 6:00-8:00 pm); Diverso da Chi? by Umberto Carteni (Dec. 8, 6:00-8:00 pm); and La siciliana ribelle by Marco Amenta (Dec. 15, 6:00-8:00 pm)

    More info about NICE on http://www.nicefestival.org/ing/nice20092010/niceindex_ny_sf.htm

     

  • Life & People

    An Italian-American Thanksgiving

    The United States is a country populated by people of all different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. No matter when they touched this soil, all of them more or less brought the symbols, beliefs, and traditions of their land of origins to their new country. Today the

    different ethnic groups honor their religious and cultural heritage in dates established in agreement with the national government, so that everybody knows, as an example, that Saint Patrick’s Day is the Irish Holiday, Columbus Day celebrates Italian culture, Hanukah and Passover are Jewish, and Christmas and Easter are Christian.

    But there is one day that really unifies the country as a  nation. It is one single holiday that everybody, independently of their skin color and religious beliefs honors. That day is Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year. That’s the “family holiday”, and two, three, four generations of members of the family sit around a table to thank God for everything they have been given, just as the Pilgrims and the Native Indians did hundreds of years  ago to give thanks for the good harvest they had.  

    And what is the symbol of Thanksgiving? Well, the turkey of course. Everybody knows it! Dozens of dozens of millions of turkeys are stuffed on this day and become the absolute “kings” of the traditional dinner. And, guess what? That’s the ONE time that everybody follows the tradition, even us Italian-Americans. Yes, if we usually add a touch of Italianity to everything we cook in our daily life, on this day we kind of promise to become 100% American and don’t even dare to alter the traditional meal. Or at least we try not to…
     

    For as much as an Italian-American tries to be a “true” American for one day only, there is

    always a drop of his blood that doesn’t follow the flow. Take my family’s case. Well, first of all, we kind of live with the nightmare that we won’t find the perfect turkey for us if we wait too long. So, let’s order it at least two, better three weeks before…Just to make sure you know…
     

    But, what is the perfect turkey for a family of 8? Well of course the one that weights AT LEAST 12 pounds. But why not 21? My grandpa asks himself, his wife, and his daughter before the astonished face of a Shop Assistant over at Giant’s. As my (Polish) Grandma went for 10, and my (Italian-American) mom for 12, my grandpa finally accepted a compromise for 18. That means more than 2 pounds of meat for each one of us…. Somebody there went back home asking himself if it would have been enough…
     

    So the dinner, as we said, is traditional On the menu there is a list of “MUST” dishes: string bean casserole, creamed onions, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing (two kinds, needless to say), orange and mandarin pudding, and what else? Can’t remember… Well, of course the turkey with “emergency” gravy on the side in case it comes out too dry (most probably). And, at my seat, a whole jar of honey mustard, because the gravy in this case is definitely not for me.
     

    Ok, ready? Set? Go! The cooking marathon starts two days before Thanksgiving, with potatoes to peal, sauces to make, and onions and other veggies to chop. On Thanksgiving Eve, the atmosphere is a little more relaxed then the day before, because after rushing up and down you realize that you have done almost everything and after all there was no need to rush so much. It’s Wednesday and the New Yorker is coming (me).

    As an Italian-American myself, I HAD TO add something to this dinner! Could I let my family starve??? So, I focused on the dessert (of course). Pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and ice cream cake are not enough. No, no. So…here  I come with a full tray of Cannoli from what supposedly is the best Sicilian pastry shop in town, Villabate in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. You know, just in case… Of course, I become my Sicilian-Italian-American grandpa’s favorite granddaughter in a second, especially when I allowed him to take short trips to the fridge downstairs to “check if the cannolis are all right”….
     

    The best thing about Thanksgiving Day is waking up in the morning with the idea of opening the turkey and stuffing it. Before doing this last process, in fact, you need to take the interiors away! And that’s another thing that my Grandpa (who worked as a butcher at a very young age) and I have in common: we look at the carcass of a turkey with an extraordinary “cold blood”, using knives, hands, and every other tool we might need to “prepare” it for the oven. And, personally, I wake up early just to do that.
     

    Another typical Italian-American thing we do on Thanksgiving? Take out all the silver from the draws, use the best tablecloth, and the fanciest tea service. It doesn’t matter if you’ll have to wash and clean everything by hand after dinner and spend the rest of the day doing that. It is “the special occasion”, the once-a-year- moment in which you don’t care to keep objects you inherited from your great-grandma in cellophane bags. Using them in everyday life is equal to a sacrilege in our minds.
     

    The dinner, that we took three days to prepare, is consumed within fifteen-twenty minutes. Everybody is full as a balloon, in my plate you can still see spots and splashes of mustard all around the edges. I, we, survived one of the greatest challenges of the year: having a huge meal that doesn’t include pasta. We really put ourselves into it…
     

    But what happened to the 18 pounds of turkey? Well, almost more then a half is still laying

    there on the silver tray. What to do with it now?? My mind starts imagining a month of turkey sandwiches for lunch, and a hint of horror fills my soul. My grandpa must have seen it because he starts asking my mom and I if we know of any Italian dish made with turkey so that we can recycle it in other tasty recipes. But no way. Italians, wisely, do not contemplate turkey in their diet.
     

    So how do we decide to solve the problem? Well, pretending again to be perfect 100% American: scheduling hours and hours of shopping for the day after. After all, it’s Black Friday and we have to keep America green! And if we get hungry? We’ll go out to eat, why not!?!?!

  • Riccardo Strano and Ivana Trump
    Life & People

    White Truffles and Barbaresco. The Jewels of Langhe and Roero

    “Tonight we celebrate the White Truffle from Alba and Barbaresco”.  With these words the Director of the Italian Tourism Board in North America Riccardo Strano welcomed the dozens of people gathered for the “Langhe and Roero : a taste of Piemonte" event at the Serafina Restaurant on Broadway. The dinner presentation was organized in collaboration with the Region of Piedmont to present to the American market and audience two products that make of the region a fundamental stop for all those who are passionate about Italian wine and food.

    At the tables set in a separate, cozy dining room of the restaurant, tourist agents, sommeliers, and press representatives had a chance to meet political and civic representatives of the Piedmont region, and got to know more about the beauty and possibilities of those territory. With them were the owners of Serafina,  Vittorio Assef and Fabio Granato, who sat at the same table of the honorary guest of the evening, Mrs. Ivana Trump.

    "I have been planning to visit Alba from the longest time; I am fond of its white truffles. That's why I am so humbled and honored to host such an event in one of my restaurants", commented Mr. Assef. It was Mr. Fausto Perletto, the President of ATL Langhe and Roero, who was asked to introduce the products to his dinnermates.

    “This evening you can taste the best of our products. The white truffle is a specialty of Alba, a small town that every year, during this period, hosts an International Festival dedicated to it. The Barbaresco, on the other hand, is one of our most prestigious wines and is named after the village of Barbaresco in the Langhe territories. Our territories are the perfect destination for wine & food afficionados, but our monuments, castles, and landscapes, are great attractions for every kind of tourist. (...) I welcome all of you to visit us and explore the hidden beauties of our region", he said.

    A convivial atmosphere characterized the whole evening, as the guests were invited to discover the richness of the white truffle through all of their five senses. Goblets hosting huge white truffles were passed down from a guest to the other, as everybody was invited to smell them in all their richness, with the advice to resist the temptation to taste or, better, to put a chunk of them in one's pocket!

    Pietro Giovannini, the President of Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco, introduced the wine served during the event by saying that "it must be feared and loved at the same time, just as a woman. Tonight we have a selection of four kinds of Barbaresco, produced in different vintages: the 2006 Orella Barbaresco DOCG; the 1999 Bric Bolin Barbaresco DOCG; the 1996 Camp Gros Barbaresco DOCG; and the 1985 Barbaresco DOCG, that has aged for more than 24 years. As you'll sense how different they taste according to their vintage, and how  Barbaresco can thus be easily paired with the most diverse kinds of dishes, you'll understand many of the secrets of its success".

    Alberto Bianco, the Mayor of the town of Barbaresco, also explained us how important  this product is to the economy of the territory he governs: "Our wine producers have been exporting throughout the world from the longest time, and a good percentage of their profits come from international commerce. This economic crisis has without a doubt been affecting their business, but we still maintain high levels of exportation. The place where we export most is the United States, in particular the big metropolis centers such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco." At the same time, he continued, as wine & food trips are gaining popularity, Barbaresco has become an important source of attraction for the city, contributing to the development of infrastructures and openings of businesses who operate in the field of tourism.

    The five-course dinner started with a delicacy that has made Serafina Restaurant famous in Manhattan, their Focaccia di Sofia, a thin focaccia bread sprinkled with white truffle. Another truffle specialty that followed was a whipped risotto with Castelmagno cheese and sweet caramel shallot sprinkled with white truffle. It was Mr. Assef himself that shredded the tuber before our and Piedmont Chef Franco Piumatto's eyes. And we must say, he did it with professionalism, but also with visible emotion!

    The entree was a Tender Veal medallion with crust of spiced bread and ciret sauce, accompanied by traditional Piedmont polenta and a Crouton with Robiola cheese and black pepper on a bed of stewed sauce with honey.

    No dinner is complete without dessert: both Italians and Americans agree on this. A cream pudding with stewed pears served with zabayone cream was a perfect, delicate end to our rich and earthy meal. We did not miss our share of chocolate as well, as silver trays of a fine assortment of authentic Ferrero Rocher were brought to our tables. The Ferrero company, known worldwide for its most famous product, Nutella, and for candy bars such as the Rocher and the Raffaello, was in fact originally founded in Alba.

    "The region of Piedmont present its products in New York every year, and as a company founded and launched in Alba we are glad to participate to this initiative. Even if our products are globally well-known by now, we still remember where we come from and are strongly bounded to Alba, and take every occasion to show it", said Alessandro Bampa, Marketing Manager at Ferrero U.S.A.

    The dinner more than satysfied all of us. The service was impecable, the dishes and wines we tasted encouraged us to plan our next trip to Piedmont in the shortest time possible!

  • Art & Culture

    Massimiliano Finazzer Flory. Futurism Between Art and Politics

    On November 5, the Commissioner  for Cultural Affairs of the City of Milan Massimiliano Finazzer Flory performed a monologue on futurism at Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò. His show was part of a full calendar of events that Italian public institutions, cultural foundations and organizations in New York dedicated to the centenary of the foundation of Italian Futurism.

     

    The day before, at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, Commissioner Flory paid homage to the cultural movement that drastically changed the classic canons of Italian art in the 20th before the opening of three different exhibitions dedicated to the theme, “Women of  the Futurism: Valentine De Saint Point”, “Neapolitan Futurism”, and “100 years of the Giro d’Italia – 100 years of Futurism”. It was also the last day of mandate as Director of the Institute for Renato Miracco: " I am proud to welcome Commissioner Flory on such a special occasion.  His performance and the three exhibits that are being opened tonight are my personal homage to the great current of Italian futurism", he stated.

    Accompanied on stage by saxophonist Riccardo Bianco and the beautiful and gracious dancer Michela Lucenti, Mr. Flory presented his “Futurist Show Performance”, a collection of pieces from Fondazione, Manifesto del Futurismo (1909) (Foundation, Manifest of Futurism) and Manifesto dei Drammaturghi futuristi (1911) (Manifest of Futurist Dramaturges) .

    The two performances, the first held at the Institute and the second at the Casa, were quite different the one from the other. During the first, as an example, Michela Lucenti danced among the public sit in the huge, elegant conference room. The fact that she did not remain on the stage, as it happened at the Casa, made the show appear somehow more "intimate", while in the second case it was certainly perceived as more "dignified", distant. Director Renato Miracco had strongly wanted this to be the last of the events of his mandate at the institute, as he sees in futurism the necessary spur to  modernization and innovation that must be given to the world of culture in Italy. The same spur he gave it from Park Avenue during these two years of mandate.

    "Futurist Show Performance" , performed in full at the Casa, included other deep and engaging texts such as “Zang Tumb Tuum” by Tommaso Marinetti, the founder of Italian Futurism, and “Fontana Malata” (The Ill Fountain) by Aldo Palazzeschi. 

    Also to be mentioned, Giovanni Papini’s declaration “Perchè sono futurista” (Why I am a futurist), an extremely provocative text in which the author challenges the classic canons that characterized Italian (and foreign) art up to that time. “I am a futurist because the excessive adoration of a “glorious past” mortifies ingenuity, makes the heart pusillanimous, slows inspiration, and ends up instilling sterility in those who are incapable of waking up in time”: words that he not only recited, but knew by heart and mind, “we need to believe in the word, because the word in embodied in men”.

    There were thoughts and words that invaded the silent and crowded auditorium that were fully consciousness of the possibility that not everybody could fully understand them.

    Futurism has indeed often been defined as an “elite movement”, one that could potentially embrace different kinds of art and involve wide numbers of artists but which imposes such drastic “rules” that the simple adhesion to its principles requires a certain dose of courage. “We despise all those works that merely want to make people weep or move them (…); we teach authors to despise them (…); we teach authors and actors the pleasure of being booed. Not everything booed is beautiful or new. But everything applauded immediately is certainly no better than the average intelligence and is therefore something mediocre, dull, regurgitated, or too well digested”, the Manifest of Futurist Dramatists proclaims.

    However, it would be quite reductive to summarize the wave of innovation that Italian Futurism brought with these few, although neat paradigms. Futurism means “remaining faithful to vocation” as Mr. Flory told us, it means “nourishing thoughts that have no barriers”, as he emphasized. And last, but not least, love Italy above everything, and put art to the service of the country. “I am a futurist because Futurism means Italy – an Italy greater than the Italy of the past, more worthy of its destiny and of its future place in the world, more modern, more advanced, more avant-garde than other nations.”

    After his performance we asked Commissioner Flory a few questions about his double role of politician and actor, and his commitment to theatre and art.

    How do you reconcile your life on stage with your political mandate?

    I feel I can do both. In fact, it is my belief that the artist must work to serve the institutions and, as an institutional representative, I am lucky to work in the cultural field. So I can’t imagine a better combination.

    How do people in Italy perceive this “double mandate”?

    In Italy I am certainly a very rare case, if not unique. I deeply love Milan but I must say that I would have never accepted the nomination as Commissioner  for Cultural Affairs of the City of Milan if they had asked me to step off the stage.

    What is your personal mission as a politician?

    To give other artists like me the best chances to express themselves and their art at the highest levels. Since I am an artist myself, I wish that the Department of Culture of the City of Milan continues to encourage our artists to do research, to question themselves, and not to be afraid of risks and changes. This is what Futurism commands, and I fully espouse these dictates.

    Otherwise? What is the main risk?

    The main risk is that culture becomes an “empty word”, a heavy, auto-referential term, a container full of traditions that have no reason to exist anymore.

    Is the Expo Milano 2015 part of this personal mission you are embracing?

    It is a great challenge, an occasion to reflect on the role culture has in a person’s life. Culture nourishes our soul, it is the healthiest food we could have. I would like it if the artists participating in this event took this opportunity to introduce their pieces to the world with no masks,  that they take the risk to show who they really are and what they do. This is the only way by which this Expo can become a sort of Olympics of Culture that must be challenging and creative at the same time.

    Can we say that you administer the Department of Culture of Milan in a “futurist way”?

    Yes, as an artist my collaboration (but not my complicity) with bureaucracy is futuristic in itself. Every day I have to sign hundreds of papers, and working at the desk for a “free” person like I am is a great compromise for me. I do this because it is the only way I have to introduce the innovations and reform required by Futurism to my city’s administration.

  • Events: Reports

    The Real Legend of Peppe Voltarelli. Calabrian Notes in NYC

    The first impression we had about Peppe Voltarelli when we first talked is that he is a very fun person to have a conversation with. Friendly, open, and cheerful, he is everything you would expect in a guy from Calabria – high spirits and a great attachment to tradition in every possible field, both in his private and professional life.

    Peppe is a singer, a composer, and an actor in his 40s. He has been known in the Italian music world since the early 1990s, when he founded his group “Il parto delle nuvole pesanti” (The birth of the heavy clouds), a band whose music mainly consisted in a mixture of rock and traditional Calabrian folk  rhythms. Twice recognized with the prestigious Italian “Tenco" music award, Peppe left the group in 2006 and released his first album as a soloist, “Distratto ma però” (Distracted But However),  in 2007. Often defined as an “emigrant singer” for his continuous travelling in search of new music and rhythms to be inspired by, Peppe has worked and collaborated with singers and musicians from every walk of life, some of which being the German-born Vinicio Capossela, Sicilian Roy Paci and Neapolitan Daniele Sepe.  
     

    Peppe is not also a versatile musician, but also the author of a book. His “Non finito

    Calabrese” (Unfinished Calabrian) is a collection of 20 semi-autobiographic short stories, poems, and tales through which he tells his readers about a Calabrian guy that travels throughout Italy and the world with a dream in his pocket, to become a musician and share his thoughts and points of view with the rest of the world. In 2000 he also published "Raggia", poems written in Calabria dialect with an English translation on the side.  
     

    Music and lyrics, however, are not

    the only means of communication Peppe uses. He is in fact also an actor, and has already had parts in three films,"Doichlanda" - a 2003 documentary about Italian immigration  -"La vera leggenda di Tony Vilar" (The true legend of Tony Vilar) and "Fuga dal call center" (Escape from the call center). Finally, as a pacifist Peppe composed the original music for "Roccu u Stortu" (Rocco the Crooked), the anti-war saga of a Calabrian soldier’s desertion in WWI along with the Florence-based Krypton troupe. He has also been strongly active against the Iraq war and he participated with other artists in a peace concert held in Bagdad’s Palestine Hotel. His social commitment is also shown by his frequent participation in campaigns and activities aimed at fighting hunger and poverty in the world.  

    Peppe Voltarelli’s performance at Le Poisson Rouge in the Greenwich Village on November 11 will be enriched by the presence of the Italian-Canadian singer Marco Calliari, a talented musician well-known to the New York audience. Special guest star Tony Vilar, the man whose story was told in one of the movies Peppe played in, will also be present. Shown at the official selection of the 2007 TriBeCa Film Festival, “The real legend of Tony Vilar” is the story of an artist that emigrated from his Calabrian village (Vilar), found fame and fortune in Argentina in the 1960’s and eventually disappeared into anonymity in the Bronx’s Italian community along Arthur Avenue. A screening of the film will be held at Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò on November 10 at 6 pm and will be followed by a Q&A session with Peppe and Calabrian director Giuseppe Gagliardi.  
     

    His debut in NYC is only one of the performances Peppe will have during his American tour which started on November 4 in Los Angeles and will touch Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Mexico City, Toronto and Montreal. We interviewed him before his arrival in NYC and asked him about his music, his relationship with the land of his origin, Calabria, and his expectations for this trip to America.   

    What does it mean to you to play in the United States?

    It means a lot! I am bringing with me a "different" kind of Italian music made of music and lyrics that are deeply tied to my land of origin, Calabria , and strongly focused on the issue of emigration. It is an important challenge for me: I know that the American audience is very demanding, so this tour is also an important opportunity to find out how Italian art is perceived on this side of the ocean.  
     
     

    You'll travel to different cities of the US with your tour. Does your performance in New York give you a particular emotion? What does this city mean to you?

    You can imagine how my small home town, Mirto, must be very different from New York. This city is the place where every artist feels at home, it's the center from where the most different artistic currents originate. And of course this is also true,  and may be especially true, for the music field. I have already been here several times: in 2007 director Giuseppe Gagliardi and I presented the movie "The real legend of Tony Villar" at the Tribeca Film Festival. We had shot some of the scenes in several areas of this city the year before. In 2001 I also came to the Bronx to play with "Il parto delle nuvole pesanti " the group I was leading at the time. I think that no other city than New York can better test the artistic value of a song or a singer. 
     

    You have been defined an "emigrant singer". How does this definition fit you?

    I come from Calabria, but I moved to Bologna at the age of 18 when I started going to the university. Then I went to Rome, and afterwards I moved to Berlin...so it's true that I have been continuously travelling throughout my life. It is something that often happens to those who come from Southern Italy, and from Italy in general to say the truth. I think that living in different places can be very stimulating, since it kind of "obliges" you to confront your experiences with those of people of different backgrounds and walks of life. In my case, it helped my music career, and inspired me in writing my music and the lyrics of many of my songs. So, you might call me "the singer of the emigrants", or "the emigrant singer", I like this definition.  
     

    How do you think Italians

    abroad keep their cultural identity alive?

    I think that this is a very difficult moment for "the Italian identity". I travelled and performed throughout Europe, Argentina, Australia, and I realized that the myth of Italian culture is declining quite a bit. People from abroad can see that the Italian music panorama is quite static, and their interest towards us is becoming merely folkloristic , if I can use this word. We look like we are not going any place and remain too attached to the great musical tradition of the past. We should move on and find the courage to propose something different. This is also why I sing in Calabrian dialect. I want to question the behavior of many Italian artists.  

    I think Italian artists should be the first people to commit themselves to help change the image of Italy abroad. In 2005. during the period I was here to shoot "The Real Legend of Tony Vilar", the President of the Region of Calabria Francesco Fortugno was assassinated. It was terrible that here in America people knew about my homeland because of a homicide. I decided I had to do something so I try to bring the best of my home to these people.  

    I can see from the different side activities you carry on and from your music itself that your are strongly socially committed. But it is also true that you don't like to be "labeled" in anyway - on the contrary, you consider yourself a "free artist"...

    Yes, I want to be free and write whatever I feel like, always keeping my main aim very firm in my mind: I want to celebrate life through my research, my music, my songs. I don't care if people see me as  right or a left oriented singer. It just matters to me that my songs stir up a debate, and are criticized or liked just for what they are. I think that music must serve civil causes, whether they might be the fight against hunger, poverty, or organized mafia. It must have a social use, and be put to the use of the people 
     

    Let's go back to the beginning of your career, when you founded your group "Il parto delle nuvole pesanti" (The birth of the heavy clouds). Can you explain why you chose this name and the reasons why you ended up leaving it?

    It's kind of a weird name indeed. We were a group of 11 people who were all friends and wanted to experiment with new rhythms and melodies and mix them with the traditional music of our different regions of origin. So we thought that nothing better than a thunderstorm, the "heavy clouds", could represent this kind of approach, from which a new genre could "have birth". I left the group because I am self-centered and wanted to sing alone (laughter
     

    Is there a particular singer or current that inspired your approach to music?

    In Italy in the '90s there were many singers that believed in this kind of "fusion", one of the most famous groups was the Almamegretta. We kind of followed their path to invent our own sound. 
     

    And what about the Italian music of the past? Is there an artist that particularly influenced you?
    With no doubt it was Domenico Modugno. He is one of the first singers who used dialect and folk rhythms in his music. He started a path that I believe can still be followed in the contemporary globalized world. Dialects must not be seen as obstacles: a universal concept or contact, even if expressed in dialect, can overcome every possible border.   
     

    An American artist with whom you would like to duet?

    Prince, no question about it 
     

    What will be the outline of your New York concert?

    I will play pieces from my solo album "Distratto ma però” (Distracted But However), and songs I wrote with my former group. Besides arranging a piece by Domenico Modugno, I will also duet with Marco Calliari, the Italian-Canadian singer who will open the event. Maybe Tony Vilar will play something with us too, but we still have to agree with him on what to do. After all, he doesn't sing live since the '60s, but I would love him sing "Quando calienta il sol" (When the sun sets), his biggest hit, to our audience.  

     

     “La Vera Leggenda di Tony Vilar”
     Tuesday November 10, 2009 - 6pm
    Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimo'

    24 West 12th Street
    New York, NY 10011-8604
    Telephone: (212) 998-8730
    Fax: (212) 995-4012
    Email: [email protected]
    www.casaitaliananyu.org

    PEPPE VOLTARELLI
    Wednesday 11/11/09  (Le) Poisson Rouge, New York, NY
                        158 Bleeker St (@ Thompson St)
    Concert starts @ 10:00PM (Doors open @ 9:30PM)
    Tickets: $15.00
     Info.: http://lepoissonrouge.com/ or (212) 505-3474
    Tickets: http://lepoissonrouge.com/events/view/594
    or 866 55 TICKETS

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