A trio of enjoyable, well-received events presented by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, the Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America, and the Amici della Cultura Italiana marked Montclair State University’s recognition of the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy.
Two important films set in the Risorgimento period by renowned Italian director Luchino Visconti were offered on September 19th and October 17th in Dickson Hall’s Cohen Lounge. A component of Dr. Teresa Fiore’s course curriculum in “Contemporary Italian Cultural Studies,” the screenings of Visconti’s Senso, and his more widely known epic masterpiece, Il Gattopardo, were opened to the academic community and the community at large. The historical and cinematic contexts for this pair of films were set by Prof.ssa Fiore, Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies. Animated and provocative Q&A sessions followed the screenings. In the discussion of Senso, Prof. Fiore was joined by Spanish and Italian Department colleague, Prof. David Del Principe. The wide-ranging and compelling Q&A session for Il Gattopardo was moderated by another colleague, Prof. Vincenzo Bollettino, who had also impressed the MSU community in a September 2009 presentation hosted by the Coccia Institute on Italian Immigration to Latin America.
Starring Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale and awarded the Palme D’Or in 1963 at the Cannes Film Festival, Visconti’s cinematic adaptation of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel Il Gattopardo provides a lush and sweeping overview of the Risorgimento period. Senso, produced nine years earlier, illuminates other aspects of this poignant historical period via Visconti’s sensitive unfolding of a tragic love story set during the Austrian occupation of Veneto.
Turning to our third and final event marking MSU’s recognition of the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy, a particularly poignant, as well as engaging, highlight of the fall season, was the multi-media show entitled, L’orda (The Horde): Stories, Songs and Images of Italian Emigration, sponsored and beautifully organized by Prof. Teresa Fiore. Directed by ethnomusicologist Gualtiero Bertelli and performed by La Compagnia delle acque, with the special participation of distinguished Corriere della Sera journalist Gian Antonio Stella, L’orda’s moving story of Italian emigration from the post-Unification period to the 1970s, adapted from Stella’s 2002 best-seller of the same title, was enriched by compelling archival images and evocative music performed on traditional instruments. A collaboration with MSU’s History Department, the John J. Cali School of Music and the Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America, L’orda was presented in the Cali School’s elegant Jed Leshowitz Recital Hall to a full house of students, faculty and community members. As passionately discussed during the reception following the performance, hosted by the Coccia Institute in Russ Hall’s Kops Lounge, the performance stirred personal memories--some beautiful, some bittersweet, for so many of the guests, which they eagerly shared in small groups throughout the memorable evening.