“The Bridge” Book Prize
Award ceremony for the winners of the sixth edition (2021) of the book prize “The Bridge”, curated by Maria Ida Gaeta with the collaboration of Maria Gliozzi, designed to promote an exchange of fiction and non-fiction literary production between Italy and the United States. The five finalist books in each category (Italian Fiction, Italian Non-fiction, American Fiction, American Non-fiction) are introduced. The winners in each category present their book. For Italian Fiction, Emanuele Trevi, Due vite, Neri Pozza, 2020: the portrait of two friends of the author who have passed away, which aims to express all the admiration Trevi felt for them and which he had not really realized while they were still alive. For Italian Non-fiction, Elisabetta Rasy, Le indiscrete. Storie di cinque donne che hanno cambiato l’immagine del mondo, Mondadori, 2021: the biography of five women photographers who fought deep personal obstacles and managed to express an innovative female point of view. For American Fiction, Danielle Evans, The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories, Riverhead Books, 2020: a collection of short stories and a novella, in which she imagines a government office for the revision of the history of the great American monuments; the author reflects on the relationship between a nation and its history, and on how the latter can be told from different perspectives. For American Non-fiction, Patricia Gaborik, Mussolini’s Theatre. Fascist Experiments in Art and Politics, Cambridge University, 2021: an analysis of Mussolini’s “strategic aestheticism,” a reflection on how various political leaderships interfere with the aesthetic dimension to legitimize themselves.
Napoleon and the Cult of Objects
Video-interview by Fabio Finotti – Director of the ICI in New York – to Arianna Arisi Rota (University of Pavia), author of the book Il cappello dell’Imperatore, in which she explores the role played by material objects in the dissemination of the cult of Napoleon Bonaparte. The author explains that, since the years of his exile in St. Helena, various material objects (paintings, busts, but also items of clothing) linked to the figure of the emperor became tools for the preservation of his memory and symbols of political partisanship. These objects were immediately serialized and commercialized, but an important role was played by the so-called “contact relics,” objects with which Napoleon had come into direct contact. Among them, an emblematic instance is Napoleon’s funeral mask, made by his doctor Francesco Antommarchi, countless copies of which were made, and which inspired famous artists. Another case in point is the body of the emperor’s son, Napoleon II: originally buried in Vienna, the body will be moved to Paris next to that of his father, in a botched propaganda attempt by the Nazi regime. Finally, material objects from the Napoleonic era inspired Stanley Kubrik’s unfinished film about Napoleon – what has been called “Kubrik’s greatest film never made.”
Rossini from Sources to Stage
Musicologist Vincenzo Borghetti (University of Verona) explains the importance of the critical edition of Elisabetta regina d’Inghilterra, the first opera composed by Rossini for the S. Carlo Theater in Naples and staged on the occasion of the restoration to the throne of the Bourbons in 1815. He discusses the state of the autograph (relatively clean, but still marked by authorial rethinking and later modifications); the difficulties linked to the interrupted performance history of the opera (which was almost never performed in the twentieth century) and to the presence of a second version of the opera (composed by Rossini in 1822 for the Viennese Imperial Theatre). Ernesto Palacio (Superintendent of the Rossini Opera Festival) illustrates the process and the choices that the staging of this opera requires (from the choice of the performers to the rendering of each character through singing to the set design), emphasizing the crucial importance of the critical text for staging choices.
Filangeri – Franklin
A symposium that investigates the relationship between the Neapolitan Enlightenment philosopher Gaetano Filangeri and the American founding father Benjamin Franklin, especially considering their close exchange of letters. Paolo Jorio explains the main features of Filangeri’s political-legal thought, which fostered the ideal of enlightened government. Amedeo Arena discusses the mutual influences between the European Enlightenment and the American Revolution, emblematized by the Filangeri-Franklin relationship. They shared a cosmopolitan vision, which was reflected in the importance they both gave to the need to protect fundamental rights, freedom of trade and free competition, and to universal public education. Giuseppe Foscari examines the spiritual and intellectual affinities between the Neapolitan and the American thinkers, from their faith in law as an instrument to reach social happiness, to pragmatism, to sociability, to the ideal that human passions should always be aimed at practical and rational action for the improvement of society; he also dwells on the Enlightenment myth of America as a “workshop of democracy,” a place where the principles theorized in Europe were implemented. Paolo Gravagnuolo opens some research paths on Filangeri’s relationship with Cava de’ Tirreni, with his wife Charlotte Frendel and with various urban and social reform projects launched in Southern Italy in those years. Antonio Trampus deals with the enormous international posthumous fortune of Filangeri’s Scienza della legislazione (Science of Legislation), a book that comes back every time in the history of Western culture in which the concepts of law, freedom, and legality are being discussed. Finally, Vincenzo Pascale offers an analysis of the importance of the concepts of city, desire, and happiness in Filangeri’s thought (emblematic of the Enlightenment desire to found an ideal city for the achievement of human happiness) and reflects on the influence of Italian emigrants in American cities as unwitting carriers of Filangeri’s thought in America.
Video-interview by Fabio Finotti – Director of the ICI in New York – with harpsichord maker Ugo Casiglia and pianist Costantino Mastroprimiano, on the two hundredth anniversary of Napoleon’s death. Ugo Casiglia discusses the fascination and the challenges of being a restorer of historical instruments, from the rarity of historical string instruments (almost all lost) to the attention to materials, to the importance of a faithful rendering of the sound. Costantino Mastroprimiano – one of the most famous performers on period instruments – talks about the peculiarities of ancient instruments compared to modern standardized pianos; in particular, he explains how slightly different instruments were produced in different geographical areas, producing specific timbres, often related to the local language, and how the music composed was specifically calibrated on the peculiarities of such instruments. We then learn how important it still is to listen to the works of the great composers of the past played with the historical instruments for which they were composed.
The sound of the Emperor
Pianist Costantino Mastroprimiano for the two hundredth anniversary of Napoleon’s death. On May 5, two hundred years after the death of Napoleon Bonaparte, a concert with period music and instruments that evoke the taste and sounds typical of the early nineteenth century. The program includes five pages close to the Napoleonic musical context: Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816), A favorite Sonata for the Piano Forte; Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Six variations in G major for piano on “Nel cor più non mi sento” of “Bella Molinara” by Paisiello WoO 70; Philipp Jakob Riotte (1776-1856), Europens Wonnetag. Die Vermählungsfeier Marien Louisens mit Napoleon I. am 11ten März 1810. Ein Musikalisches Gemälde für das Forte-Piano Op. 34; Philipp Jakob Riotte, Die Schlacht bey Leipzig oder: Deutschlands Befreyung. Ein charakteristisches Ton-Gemählde für das Piano-Forte (“The Battle of Leipzig or the Liberation of Germany. A characteristic sound painting for piano”); Ludwig van Beethoven, Wellingtons Sieg oder die Schlacht bey Vittoria Für das Piano-Forte von Ludwig van Beethoven 91tes Werk. Eigenthum der Verleger op. 91 (“The Wellington Victory, or The Battle of Victory” op. 91 – “Victory Symphony” – second part).
Napoleon and Manzoni
Fabio Finotti – Director of the ICI in New York – in conversation with Luca Badini Confalonieri (University of Turin) on the two-hundredth anniversary of Alessandro Manzoni’s Cinque maggio. Badini Confalonieri talks about the delayed arrival in Europe of the news of Napoleon’s death and how Manzoni immediately began writing his ode as soon as he learned the news. In particular, he explores the religious dimension of the poem is explored, through the analysis the most significant expressions (Genio, orma, naufrago, vergin di servo encomio / e di cowardo oltraggio, al disonor del Golgota, cadde la stanca man) and of the opposition between earthly glory – inconstant and ephemeral – and faith in the divine – the only true source of salvation and redemption. Despite his political hostility towards the Frenchman, the poet claims to be able to see the universal value of Napoleon’s story: the emperor’s life becomes an exemplum of human life, of how every attempt to leave one’s mark on the world is vain and how only faith in God can save us. Finally, he discusses the international fortune of Cinque Maggio, which became well known in spite of the initial censorship and has been the subject of various translations ever since.