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CELEBRATORY PARADE

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BILL NEWMAN has been to the 2001 Spoleto Festival
and reports on his impressions of the surroundings,
local artists and international music-making

 

Bill Newman - a portrait by Enzo Falcone

<< Continued from last week

3. MENOTTI'S 'THE SAINT OF BLEECKER STREET'

This was my reason for returning to Spoleto. Apart from the 1955 black and white TV transmission that hit me for six, I have not seen the work staged. On Broadway that year it closed after 92 performances.

Today, the opera stands firmly in Maestro's affection as the work he mostly identifies with, despite any severe misgivings he had concerning his Catholic beliefs at the time of composition. Although he classes himself as a non-believer, Menotti has never relinquished his religious ties. He had long ago sought out and met Father Pio de Pietraicina, the Italian Capuchin monk who suffered the stigmata of Christ's crucifixion.

It was an experience never forgotten. Later came the suicide of best friend and colleague Milena Barilli, designer of the costumes for his ballet Sebastian. She had painted herself as a nun receiving the stigmata, which hangs on his study wall. They both acted as catylists for the work's creation.

It is a story about imigrants, their behaviour and way of life in 'Little Italy', including an obvious dissent for anything that disrupts their happy, normal existence. Annina, the lead character, is destined to take the veil whilst her misunderstanding 'loving' brother Michele not only opposes her decision but finds himself at loggerheads with everyone else.

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Copyright © 20 November 2001 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK

 

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THE SPOLETO FESTIVAL WEBSITE

BILL NEWMAN'S VISIT TO THE 2000 SPOLETO FESTIVAL

 

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