Showing posts with label San Pellegrino Terme. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Pellegrino Terme. Show all posts

25 June 2018

Marta Abba - actress

Aspiring star who became Pirandello’s muse

Marta Abba was just 24 when she met the  playwright Luigi Pirandello
Marta Abba was just 24 when she met the
playwright Luigi Pirandello
Marta Abba, who as a young actress became the stimulus for the creativity of the great playwright Luigi Pirandello, was born on this day in 1900 in Milan.

The two met in 1925 when Pirandello, whose most famous works included the plays Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921) and Henry IV (1922), asked her to see him, having read an enthusiastic appreciation of her acting talents by Marco Praga, a prominent theatre critic of the day.

Abba had made her stage debut in Milan in 1922 in Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull and was noted for the exuberance and passion of her performances. Pirandello was impressed with her and immediately hired her as first actress for his Teatro d’Arte company in Rome.

Over the next nine years until Pirandello’s death in 1936, Abba would become not only his inspiration but his confidante. When Abba was not working with him but was on stage in some other city or country, they would correspond in writing, exchanging hundreds of letters.

Pirandello was said to be infatuated with Abba from their first meeting in 1925 in Rome
Pirandello was said to be infatuated with Abba from
their first meeting in 1925 in Rome

There was a considerable age gap between them - Abba was 24 and Pirandello 58 when they met - and their relationship was complex and not always harmonious.  It has been speculated that there was a romance between them but any love affair was probably one-sided.

The Sicilian playwright, who was married but whose wife was in an asylum for the mentally ill, was infatuated with the young actress but it is thought it was a passion that was unconsummated, which meant that the relationship was a source of torment for Pirandello as well as one that inspired his creativity.

The eldest daughter of a Milan merchant, Abba went to a theatre school in Milan and was always set on a career in theatre.  Her collaboration with Pirandello, starring in many of his plays, would make her a significant figure in theatre in Italy.

Abba did not marry until after Pirandello's death
Abba did not marry until after
Pirandello's death

In 1930 she founded her own theatrical company and specialized in staging the works of Pirandello and other European playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw, Gabriele d'Annunzio and Carlo Goldoni, under the direction of prestigious directors such as Max Reinhardt and Guido Salvini.

After Pirandello’s death, she moved to the United States, making her Broadway debut was in the play Tovarich, by the French writer Jacques Deval, at the Plymouth Theatre.

She remained single until after Pirandello’s death. In January 1938 she married a wealthy Cleveland polo player, Severance Allen Millikin.  They lived in Cleveland until they divorced in 1952, at which point Abba returned to Italy.

Her health remained robust until the last few years of her life, when she was confined to a wheelchair.  She spent the last few weeks before her death in 1988 receiving treatment at the spa town of San Pellegrino Terme, north of Bergamo.

She wrote an autobiography, La mia vita di attrice (My Life as an Actress). After her death, a collection she had kept of more than 500 letters between her and Pirandello was donated to the University of Princeton, in New Jersey.

The Art Nouveau Grand Hotel in San Pellegrino Terme
The Art Nouveau Grand Hotel in San Pellegrino Terme
Travel tip:

San Pellegrino Terme is a small town in a little over 20km (12 miles) north of the city of Bergamo, in Lombardy, in the Val Brembana. Its name has become known all over the world because of the fame of its spring water, bottled by a company that marketed it as San Pellegrino mineral water. The company’s main production centre used to be in the town, which is also notable for several striking Art Nouveau buildings from the early 20th century, including the Casinò, the Grand Hotel and the Terme (Baths).

The Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi in Rome
The Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi in Rome
Travel tip:

Luigi Pirandello’s Teatro d’Arte company used to stage its productions at the Odescalchi Theatre inside the Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi, in Piazza Santi Apostoli, a short distance from Piazza Venezia in the heart of Rome. The palace, which belonged originally to the Colonna family, was remodelled by Carlo Maderno before undergoing a later transformation under the great Roman sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, with later input from Nicola Salvi and Luigi Vanvitelli, with the façade on Via del Corso rebuilt by Raffaelo Ojetti.


4 November 2017

Sandrone Dazieri – crime writer

Best-selling novelist in Italy now has first title in English

Sandrone Dazieri has written more than a dozen crime thrillers and has a big following in Italy
Sandrone Dazieri has written more than a dozen crime
thrillers and has a big following in Italy 
Sandrone Dazieri, an Italian author and screenwriter whose first novel published in English received enthusiastic reviews, was born in Cremona on this day in 1964.

A former chef, Dazieri became a best-selling novelist in his mid-30s with Attenti al Gorilla (Beware of the Gorilla), which introduced a complex character, based on himself and even named Sandrone, who suffers from a personality disorder that makes his behaviour unpredictable yet who solves crimes and tackles injustices.

The book spawned a series featuring the same character that not only gained Dazieri enormous popularity among Italian readers but helped him get work as a screenwriter, especially in the area of TV crime dramas.

He is the main writer on the hugely popular Canale 5 series Squadra Antimafia, to which he contributed for seven seasons.

Now, for the first time, with the help of an American translator, Dazieri has moved into the English language market with Kill the Father, published by Simon & Schuster in London in January 2017.

Already a top-selling title in Italy, the dark crime thriller received such good reviews in the literary sections of English newspapers and magazines that it made the Sunday Times best-sellers list.

The novel features new characters in Colomba Caselli, the chief of the Rome police’s major crimes unit, and Dante Torre, a man who spent 10 years of his childhood imprisoned by a masked kidnapper and is called in to help Caselli solve a crime with all the hallmarks of the one committed by his own captor.

A second title in a planned series featuring the same lead characters, entitled Kill the Angel, is due to be published in English next year.

Although he was always an enthusiastic reader of gialli – the word Italians use for crime novels, based on the tradition of publishing them with yellow covers – and a fan of crime shows on TV, Dazieri’s education after high school pointed him in the direction of a career in catering.  After graduating from hotel management school at San Pellegrino Terme, in Lombardy, he spent the next 10 years working as a chef, at locations all around Italy.

Ultimately, he decided to move to Milan in the hope of finding work in publishing or journalism and eventually succeeded, getting a job as a proof reader and writing pieces for the left-wing newspaper, Il Manifesto, about culture and literature, largely about the crime, thriller and espionage genres. He enrolled to study political science at college.

Dazieri's novel Kill the Father features high-ranking Rome policeman Colomba Caselli
Dazieri's novel Kill the Father features high-ranking Rome
policeman Colomba Caselli
When he began writing his own novels, Dazieri drew heavily on his own life experiences.  For a while after arriving in Milan, he had so little money he could not afford proper accommodation and often resorted to sleeping in empty train carriages at Milano Centrale railway station, or squatting in unoccupied houses. His main characters share many of his own characteristics, too.

He also became politically active, particular campaigning against the expansion of nuclear power stations.

Since his success as a writer, with several screenplays to his name as well as a dozen or so novels, Dazieri has become a more mainstream figure in the publishing world.

Along with Italian film director Gabriele Salvatores and producer Maurizio Totti, he set up the Colorado Noir publishing house in 2004 and after four years as chief editor of the Gialli Mondadori crime series, he now works for the Mondadori company as a literary consultant.

The facade of Cremona's Romanesque cathedral
The facade of Cremona's Romanesque cathedral
Travel tip:

Cremona, a city at the heart of the Po Valley in Lombardy, has an outstanding Romanesque-Gothic cathedral, its façade and the adjoining baptistry regarded as among the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy. Inside there are a number of notable paintings, including fresco decorations on the side walls of the nave by Giovanni Antonio de’ Sacchis, who painted under the name of Il Pordenone.  Cremona is also famous for its tradition for violin making, being the home of Giuseppe Guarneri, Antonio Stradivari and several members of the Amati family.

The majestic Art Nouveau Grand Hotel at San Pellegrino
The majestic Art Nouveau Grand Hotel at San Pellegrino  
Travel tip:

San Pellegrino Terme, which can be found in Val Brembana in the province of Bergamo, is well known as the birthplace of the mineral waters bearing the name of the town. San Pellegrino water is to be found in supermarkets and on restaurant tables all over the world.  The water was always held to have health-enhancing properties and its reputation helped San Pellegrino became a fashionable spa town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a favourite haunt with wealthy industrialists from Bergamo.  Some wonderful Art Nouveau architecture remains as a legacy, in the shape of the San Pellegrino Thermal Baths, the Casino and the Grand Hotel.  The resort’s popularity declined somewhat in the mid-20th century and these fine buildings were closed, but efforts have been made recently to restore them and allow the public back inside for a glimpse of the opulence of the town in its heyday.