24 March 2019

24 March

Guido Menasci - poet, librettist and biographer

Respected writer and historian who found fame from an opera

The writer Guido Menasci, who is best known as a co-author of the libretto for composer Pietro Mascagni’s successful opera Cavalleria rusticana but was also a respected historian, was born on this day in 1867 in the Tuscan port of Livorno. Menasci, a law graduate from the University of Pisa and briefly a prosecutor at the Court of Appeal in Lucca, wrote for a number of literary magazines in Italy and beyond and produced a biography of the German poet and playwright Johann Wolfgang Goethe that is considered a definitive work. Alongside fellow librettist Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti, he collaborated with Mascagni on a number of operas, the most famous of which by some way was Cavalleria rusticana, which was performed for the first time in 1890, at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. Read more...


Dario Fo – writer and actor

Prolific playwright put the spotlight on corruption

Playwright and entertainer Dario Fo was born in Leggiuno Sangiano in Lombardy on this day in 1926. His plays have been widely performed and translated into many different languages. He is perhaps most well known for Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997. Fo’s early work is peppered with criticisms of the corruption, crime, and racism that affected life in Italy at the time. He later moved on to ridicule Forza Italia and Silvio Berlusconi. The writer’s most celebrated solo piece, Mistero Buffo, which he presented as though he were a travelling player in medieval times, was denounced as blasphemous by the Vatican because of material relating to the life and times of Christ. He wrote Accidental Death of an Anarchist, a play first performed in 1970, after the so-called 'accidental' fall from the window of a Milan police station of a man being questioned about a bomb attack on a bank. Read more...


Luigi Einaudi - politician and winemaker

Composer's grandfather was President of the Republic

The politician and winemaker Luigi Einaudi was born on this day in 1874 in CarrĂ¹, in what is now Piedmont. Einaudi, who is the grandfather of the musician and composer Ludovico Einaudi and the father of publisher Giulio Einaudi, was President of the new Italian Republic between 1948 and 1955, the second person to occupy the post. Initially a socialist, in 1919 he became co-founder of the Italian Liberal Party (PLI), which helped Mussolini win the 1924 general election. But after the socialist politician Giacomo Matteotti was murdered in 1924, Einaudi distanced himself from the Fascists and was among the signatories of the 1925 Manifesto of the Anti-Fascist Intellectuals. Einaudi became part of Italy's governing National Council prior to the formation of the Republic in 1946, in which he served in several ministerial positions before his election as President.  He entered the wine business in 1897 at the age of 23 when he acquired an 18th century farmhouse called San Giacomo outside Dogliani, his mother's home town. Read more…


Mimmo Jodice - photographer

Camera work with shades of metaphysical art

Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Jodice, who has been a major influence on artistic photography in Italy for half a century, was born on this day in 1934 in Naples. Jodice, who was professor of photography at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Napoli from 1969 to 1996, is best known for his atmospheric photographs of urban scenes, especially in his home city. Often these pictures reflected his fascination with how Italian cities habitually mix the present and the future with echoes of the past in their urban landscapes, with the incongruous juxtapositions of ancient and modern that were characteristic of metaphysical art occurring naturally as part of urban evolution. His books Vedute di Napoli (Views of Naples) and Lost in Seeing: Dreams and Visions of Italy have been international bestsellers and he has exhibited his work all over the world. Read more…


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