BILL NEWMAN has been to the 2001 Spoleto Festival
and reports on his impressions of the surroundings,
local artists and international music-making
<< 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
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.
Copyright © 20 November 2001
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
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BILL NEWMAN'S VISIT TO THE 2000 SPOLETO FESTIVAL
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