(The transcript of event was prepared by Riccardo Piroddi)
Antonino Siniscalchi, Journalist
Good evening, welcome to the national première of “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense” by Raffaele Lauro. The novel concludes “The Sorrentine Trilogy”, following “Sorrento The Romance - The conflict between Christianity and Islam in the sixteenth century” and “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”. The novel tells the human and artistic story of the great Russian dancer, Violetta Elvin, born Prokhorova and widow of Fernando Savarese, the guest of honour of the evening. The event, not surprisingly, is held in the Churchyard of the Church of the Holiest Annunciation, the former seat of the bishop of Vico Equense. This significant cultural event with the choice of a location, which is unique in the world, is organized by the Municipality of Vico Equense within the Social World Film Festival - The International Exhibition of Social Cinema (started last Sunday, to conclude on 31 July 2016). After the welcoming speech of the Mayor of Vico Equense, Andrea Buonocore, the event will be introduced by the Artistic Director of the Social World Film Festival, Giuseppe Alessio Nuzzo. Professor Salvatore Ferraro and Professor Angela Barba will be the speakers during the debate. I have to apologise on behalf of Solicitor Giuseppe Ferraro, who was to attend as a speaker, however was held up by unforeseen duties. The concluding speech of thanks to the great artist, the inspiration for the work, and in memory of Maestro Zarko Prebil, who died recently, the alter ego of Violetta Elvin, who never allowed her to break her ties with the world of dance, will be held, of course, by the author, Raffaele Lauro. Please forgive me, if I pause this opening speech for a moment: I thank Professor Raffaele Lauro for the honour of coordinating the première of his new book, a novel that celebrates three major themes of our daily lives: life, art and love. I have read the previous novels and presented them in public, but the latter involved me more than others, because it talks of love, love for art, love for a person, Fernando Savarese, love for a country, love for nature and love for beauty. It will also be the age, maybe I'm getting old (I hope only on paper), but I was truly moved. I find the final scene of the novel, the “dream” of Violetta Elvin returning to dance on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre at the age of ninety, wonderful, crazy and visionary. During frequent conversations with Raffaele Lauro via telephone, whatsapp and email we agreed on how tonight's event represents a unique and unrepeatable moment for a number of reasons. It will be difficult in the future to condense at a single event in this evocative and enchanted place a world renowned artist, a life for art and for love, and the celebration of this wonderful land of Vico Equense, to which Professor Lauro dedicates this novel to strengthen the roots of affection with his maternal grandparents. In short, this story that touches the deepest strings of each of us, holds a special charm while celebrating the life, art and love of a great artist like Violetta Elvin Savarese. Or simply, Violetta, if I may, as I have had the honour of meeting her on the occasion of the “Sorrento in the World 2014” awards. I would like to read the dedication of Raffaele Lauro to Violetta Elvin, which opens the novel: “To Violetta Elvin, a splendid artist and a courageous woman, who allowed me to rediscover the love of freedom, the art of dance and the natural beauty of Vico Equense, the wonderful and incomparable homeland of my maternal grandparents.” Thank you and have a good evening!
Andrea Buonocore, Mayor of Vico Equense
It is said that we, politicians, talk too much and say too many things. Tonight we should let silence talk, suspend for a moment all kinds of activities, be comfortable in these chairs and contemplate this place that says more than any speech and any greeting. When the mayor often travels the area, he is stopped by many people, who put their requests for help, or he is invited to reflect and find solutions to many problems. However, at this time, I am here and I am in charge of that force, of that commitment and of that sympathy which makes me proudly say, I'm the mayor of Vico Equense, because I am also the mayor of this place, which is unique in its own kind. I think this place says it all alone, without the need for a speech. A place where heaven and earth kiss each other, where a magnificent cathedral dominates and stands out everywhere. An image, which, at times, becomes the image of Naples itself. When there is a meeting, a meeting regarding Naples, they often use our image. All this makes us honoured and we should be proud of this, but we also feel the weight of the fact that these places belong to us, so they must be protected and respected. Here, this evening, we commend a great woman, who only by chance, by luck, decided to live here in Vico. It is not a coincidence that she fell in love with Vico, looking at this place. It is a particular location because, in the words of Senator Lauro in our meeting at the Town Hall, this is the place that Violetta sees from her room, and I think that this has contributed in a decisive way to her love for Vico, that love of which only she was capable by loving the entire community through a man and a place. We must be grateful to this woman who spoke, lived and testified about Vico Equense in Italy and in the world. My greeting is this: we are extremely proud to host such an important event in this place as part of an equally important event: the Social World Film Festival, an international festival that we are enjoying these days. My wish is to spend an hour of serenity in this wonderful place, and to carry this memory in my heart forever. Thank you.
Giuseppe Alessio Nuzzo, Director of the Social World Film Festival
Good evening, everyone. Welcome. We are at the halfway mark of the 6th edition of the International Festival of Social Cinema that in the past two years has become the International Film Exhibition with the inauguration of the Museum of Cinema. For those unaware or for those who are not from Vico Equense, there are two rooms dedicated to the history of cinema of Vico Equense in the halls the Old Town Hall. 100 films made in a hundred years. Films with Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni. A tribute to a land rich in cinema. But the Social World Film Festival is not only about cinema. We always say that. It is a cultural experience, we do training with the youth, we hold international activities worldwide, we deal with art. If anyone noticed the shop windows in town, the streets, the squares, they all present works of art dedicated to cinema. We wanted to give the opportunity to young artists to exhibit their works on the topic of film, based on the Social World Film Festival. The Social World Film Festival is also about art in general, and tonight in this wonderful location we wanted to dedicate an event to the art of dance and to the art of publishing. When Raffaele Lauro called me, I immediately accepted the idea of presenting this tribute not only to a special woman, a particular woman, Donna Violetta, but, above all, to Vico Equense here at the Social World Film Festival. I want to share this book that Raffaele sent me a few days ago to read. I was greatly surprised by the words, as well as by the particularly vigorous and exciting history. This story is a part of the geographical context of Vico Equense, which is nothing short of touching, even though this word isn't enough to express the emotions you feel when reading the pages of Lauro. I want to offer you a few passages of this text to immerse ourselves in the book, the topic, which later on will be widely discussed by the speakers: “That night in early November in Vico Equense, refreshed by a sparkling, sweet, warm, and almost exciting land breeze, was closing an exceptionally hot, sunny, bright, and clear day full of colour, almost like an incipient of spring, rather than the culmination of the autumn season. Autumn that year, without rain, awoke legitimate concerns in farming families, that true anguish, which became the subject of lively discussions among tables in bars in Piazza Umberto I. Halfway between the mountains and beaches there was the plain, the triumph of the pulsating heart of city life, the urban centre, which inclined towards the extreme edge of the high coast with imposing mansions and convents, off the shore, opposite the Vesuvius, that seemed to defy the laws of statics, up to that amazing seal of the Church of the Holiest Annunciation, the authentic constructive miracle nestled like a precious gem in limestone, which became the ultimate symbol of religiosity of the Vicans and the sacer locus of collective memory. The church, called a treasure chest of sacral art, surrounded by a unique landscape, represented for the Vicans a lauda creaturarum, a hymn to the Lord, like the 'Cantico' of the poor man of Assisi, because the temple has been linked to all the most important events of Vico Equense since the twelfth century.” I must confess that as a result of this poetic introduction in the place where we are today, I could not imagine to have this event held elsewhere. For this reason, I wanted to read the opening words of the novel, just to tell you in person about this tribute to the town of Vico Equense. Thank you and have a good evening.
Salvatore Ferraro, Professor at Accademia Pontaniana
Good evening. I only regret that the dearest Violetta Elvin has not arrived yet. I met her about sixty years ago. This is a charismatic place for us, the Vicans. Here, we have lived, stayed with so many friends, with Don Mario Buonocore, and celebrated many functions in church. It is a very dear place to me, as I have lived it almost every day for about eighty years. It is a prestigious place, as mentioned before by Nuzzo, who quoted one of the most beautiful pages of Raffaele Lauro. We are, therefore, in a charming place, by no means made famous worldwide by a Russian painter, a compatriot of Violetta Elvin. That painter was Silvester Shchedrin, who died in Sorrento, and who two hundred years ago painted this cathedral several times, the cathedral, which now has become the logo of Vico Equense, as mentioned by the Mayor. “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”, an exceptional book by Raffaele Lauro, the third novel of “The Sorrentine Trilogy”. But Raffaele has written many works. This is a work, he took a long time to think out. I and my friend, Riccardo Piroddi, have been involved in this work by Raffaele, and we thank him for that. We provided news, we gave ideas, we remembered all the events of this town, because the book is, yes, dedicated to Violetta Elvin, but it is also a novel dedicated to the town of Vico Equense, because it is the land of the ancestors of Raffaele, who were born here and this is where his mother, Angela, came from, so dear to us, still alive in our memory, who then moved to Sorrento, Sant'Agnello, Sant'Agata and then Rome. It's a novel dedicated to the still fascinating Russian ballerina Violetta Prokhorova and, as I will explain, now known as Violetta Elvin, because, when she left Russia to move to England, her name was a little complicated to pronounce for the English, and they convinced her to change it to Elvin. We are grateful to this woman, who came here sixty years ago, for having chosen this land, even if by accident. The Greek Tyche, well known to you, acted in this choice. Violetta knew Italy well, she was born, as we said, ninety-three years ago in Moscow, she lived there for twenty years, then moved to England for about ten years, and finally came to our Vico Equense. Vico Equense honours this woman with delay, and I do not blame anyone for this, but, above all, it honours the narrative magic of Raffaele Lauro, thanks to whom we pay a significant tribute to her with this beautiful novel, which will be presented in other parts of Italy and then abroad. A belated, but solemn and heard tribute. We are waiting for the arrival of Donna Violetta, who has her own rhythm, which has remained the same as during her time as an artist. She goes out at certain times of day. She wanders through town in silence and nobody imagines what stands behind these ninety-three years: the rich history narrated by Raffaele Lauro, although he could not tell everything, because, of course, some events were of private nature, like those related to the times of the Soviet Union. In fact, the most difficult period for Violetta was the first twenty years of her life, coinciding with the Stalinist regime. However, in the book, she declares to be grateful also to Stalin, who gave her permission to leave the country after she had married a British embassy attaché in Moscow (her first marriage). She then said smiling that she had danced on the head of Stalin, because, both Hitler and the Russian dictator had been hiding in underground bunkers, deprived of light, built under opera houses. In many years here, Violetta has established a deep inner bond with us, the Vicans, a bond of love, a bond of light. Of course, she had to take many sacrifices, but the love for this land, for her husband Fernando, whom we remember with affection, was intense, it bloomed by chance. She remembers the first time she came to Vico Equense, to a town recovering from war. She arrived here for a holiday, to rest from the tour, and stopped at Hôtel Aequa. After her first arrival to Vico Equense, Fernando Savarese was able to capture this woman with his charm and his kindness, and their relationship became permanent, uninterrupted and never denied. A life lived and little known about in Vico Equense, lived quietly, with almost a monastic attitude, discreet in their family dimension, with the sensitivity of a great dancer, a star of the world of dance, who toured around the world, got to know Italy very well, experienced the limelight, the applause, and then withdrew to Vico in a foreign land, which however protected and respected her with discretion. Violetta Prokhorova was immediately charmed by these places, which back then were perhaps even more beautiful than today. Vico Equense was rich, full of tourists, a Vico that I remember with pleasure. Years have passed, something has been lost, but the scenery is still beautiful, even though it has suffered injuries. Violetta fell in love with our land, with Marina d'Aequa, with the villages and the hamlets. For me, the meetings with her are overwhelming, because she is capable of exceptional reflections, which are sharp and up to date, and this demonstrates her remarkable mental capacity, a real value. Raffaele Lauro, in about four meetings held exceptionally in Palazzo Savarese, has well ascertained the richness of her life, her intense life between Moscow and London, and then her quiet, secluded, preserved, excluded life here in Vico Equense, where everyone knew her and pointed at her when passing her by on the street, being surprised of her demeanour, her grace and her kindness. Every reader of this novel will track the complex historical and human events that allowed her to travel through Europe to reach the hotel in Vico Equense. Violetta already knew this land because her father had told her various things about Italy, and because here in Italy, while touring, she visited museums, galleries, and thus got to know Italian painting by the great Florentine, Umbrian and Roman painters. She had never thought, however, that she would come to live here. In London, she met the great choreographer, Massine, and later on she met him here, at the Li Galli islands. In one page of the novel she said some really beautiful things: that Russia was the home of her birth, childhood, youth, and vocational training at the Bolshoi Theatre. England was the birthplace of her artistic maturity, of her successes, the triumphs, meetings with choreographers, and with the greatest dancers. Finally, Italy was the home of her true love, her long life and her story as a woman, wife and mother, lived in the intimacy of family, in serenity, discretion and simplicity. Violetta has had three passports: Russian, English and Italian. To the question, the citizen of which nation she felt the most, he has always responded to feel the citizen of the world, because dance is an exceptional art that turns artists into citizens of the world. She lived in the era of great dancers, the book is full of information about dancers, choreographers, dance instructors, musicians, composers, set designers, that's why there is a considerable index of sixty pages, where everyone can find a lot of information about the history of world ballet. Similarly to other novels of “The Sorrentine Trilogy”, “Sorrento The Romance - The conflict between Christianity and Islam in the sixteenth century” and “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”, this book is also a result of long meditation, detailed research and deep historical investigation. I and Riccardo Piroddi were involved in the process, we worked with all the modern technology, fax, email, photocopying, so that the documentation was as broad as possible. Then, live interviews with Donna Violetta were fascinating and allowed the author to grasp many unknown events never revealed to the press before. I would like to mention a character, who has truly impressed me: Violetta was very attached to her father, Vasilij, and her son Antonio Vasilij bears his middle name after him. That character intrigued me. He married Violetta's mother, who was a lot younger than him; he was an orphan brought up by his aunt and uncle. Engineer, inventor, car driver, who piloted planes, he piloted a plane from Paris to Moscow, he was also a hunter, played the piano, and played chess. He was an ingenious and creative man. It is obvious, that she has taken after her father a lot. I can see in her the features of her father, qualities, which later on developed and widened in her. He didn't drink alcohol, he was orthodox, he made her baptised secretly by a catholic priest, hiding from the Soviet regime. But the most important thing is that from her early days her father instilled in her the love for art and dance by often taking her to the Bolshoi Theatre. I repeat, he was an exceptional man. I remember with pleasure also her mother, Irena, who came to Italy, and the dialogue with her daughter about where she had ended up, as she was not able to find Vico Equense on Russian maps. Fernando and Antonio welcomed her in Vico and she was enchanted by it. It is an interesting family with a very fascinating story. Al this makes the novel of Raffaele Lauro. Thank you.
(Violetta Elvin arrives during the speech of Professor Ferraro, accompanied by her son Antonio Vasilij Savarese, and she is greeted by a standing ovation of the present authorities and the large audience.)
Angela Barba, Professor of Literary Subjects
First of all, my greetings to those present and to all of you who have just given a speech, starting from the Director of the Social World Film Festival, Giuseppe Alessio Nuzzo, Mayor Andrea Buonocore, with whom I share an old friendship, Donna Violetta Elvin, the shining star, scintillating this evening, who has joined us, and Raffaele Lauro, who every time asks me to talk about the things that I love, books and literature, and I always accept with great joy that gives me these challenges. Therefore, here are the reflections on this gripping and exciting, sometimes even moving novel, starting with the title, which contains two important, significant key words: dance and love. The two thematic poles of the novel. A novel, which is a part of “The Sorrentine Trilogy”. A novel that closes the trilogy of Raffaele Lauro, after “Sorrento the Romance - The conflict between Christianity and Islam in the sixteenth century”, the reconstruction of the Turkish assault of Sorrento on 13th June 1558, and “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”, dedicated to the fifty-year-long bond of Lucio Dalla with Sorrento. “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”, a complex title, which can be interpreted in so many ways, because these two words are related to each other, they imply one another: dance that generates love, love as an expression of dance. Surely, there is a recurring symbolism in the narrative of Raffaele Lauro: the Love of the Universe. We have repeatedly discussed it together, as well as that of Eros and Thanatos, the two faces of the same coin, love and death, art and life, time as a limit, in its relationship with the dimension of eternity. Another core topic is related to the centrality of the female figure, the feminine archetype, which is always present in the novels of Raffaele. Mother, daughter, wife, sister, Madonna, a woman to whom Raffaele attributes the salvific, soteriological function. A woman who saves the world, who is always a fertile being, who generates and gives life. A theme that I really appreciate in this trilogy of Raffaele, the love for women, his ability to talk about women, to follow the story of women. Another constant in the novels of Raffaele, as mentioned by Professor Ferraro, is the interplay between micro and macro-history. The story of Violetta Elvin, which covers The Age of Extremes and proceeds into the twenty-first century, is located in a historical, political and ideological context, which is being rebuilt with care and documentary rigour. The genre is in itself a hybrid: a biography, a fictionalized biography with the traits of historical novel, and with lyrical inserts, such as the extraordinary dream at the end, which are also a feature of Raffaele's novels. The author recounts the three periods of Donna Violetta's life: the Russian period in Moscow, the English period, and the Italian and Vican period, with a wealth of episodes, which I recommend to our readers, because it is a continuous discovery of events, meetings, from the Moscow years, the years on Arbat Street, with her extraordinary parents, her mother Irena, and the eclectic aviator father, an inventor passionate about the art of the Renaissance, who fills his daughter with this passion that she will always carry with her. The reconstruction of Violetta's cultural background, of the hard years of training at the school of the Bolshoi Theatre, the key meeting in Moscow with her first husband, Harold Elvin, and the journey towards freedom, a journey marked by unexpected encounters. I was impressed by the episode of the game of chess with composer Shostakovich, by the conversation in Helsinki with architect Aalto about the creator genius of Leonardo, and in terms of her years at the Royal Ballet in London, her meetings with major figures of the world of dance, Ninette de Valois, Violetta's mentor, Margot Fonteyn and the whole story of the alleged rivalry invented by the press, Sir Frederick Ashton, who's role is fundamental, Léonide Massine, whom Violetta meets again on the beautiful Amalfi coast. And then the meeting with Vico Equense in the early fifties, and with Fernando. This is where the story begins that will drive Violetta to make the choice described in the book as the choice of love that opens and inaugurates the third period of her life. The time of discretion, silence, elegant presence, which has marked our places and reached our days. I urge you to read this novel because the narrated events make us understand the extraordinary size of this story, the story that has a paradigmatic and exemplary value. The closing of the book is linked to the literary theme of dreams, a time when the past connects with the present. The old dream of Violetta to go on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre to dance “The Sleeping Beauty” appears on a magical, enchanted night with moonlight, which will surround us and surprise us in an instance. I will share with you very quickly some ideas, which have particularly moved and touched me, using quotations from the novel. At one point, there is a conversation between Violetta and her partner Ugo Dell'Ara at the Teatro alla Scala, in the early fifties, on the philosophy of dance. I think this is an important key to understanding the novel, because dance is described here as self-offering, a source of energy, the life force of your body, to be always expressed without weakness during rehearsals, premiers, performances and finally in life. This philosophy of dance has marked the entire existence of Violetta Elvin. I was also struck by the theme of love, the love of dance, always referring to the title. When the mutual feeling between Violetta and Fernando, in London, begins to reveal itself and makes its way, as we read in the novel, “love was ready to make radical choices, before then not even imagined, like renouncing success, applauses, fame, and art, with the conviction that a beautiful love story represented itself, for those who lived it, as a work of art.” That love, as Raffaele writes about the love between Violetta and Fernando, was an act of creative madness. A beautiful definition, where the author recognizes this feeling as complex and necessary in the life of each of us. A creative madness, which was rewarded. In another conversation between Violetta and Sir Ashton, an English choreographer, a guest in Vico, he states that Violetta had left the great love of dance, for an even greater love, that of life, and says, and I think these words we should take with us: “Happiness is like a passing train. If you don't get on it in time because you're distracted or think of something else, the train does not come back. You, Violetta, you climbed on that train of happiness in time, unlike so many others, all of us.” Violetta recognizes this timing, this ability to make a choice, and does it with great courage and with great awareness, without regret. The other real protagonist of this novel is Vico Equense, and as a Vican I found myself in these pages dedicated to our land, I recognised the Vican genius loci, the spell of our places, that the Mayor highlighted well, the homeland of the true love of Violetta, of the long life, of the story of a woman, a wife and a mother, lived in the intimacy of family, in serenity and discretion, on which we should reflect in times when vulgarity, screams, exhibitionism, ostentation and narcissistic protagonism prevail. One has to live with style. Lauro tells Violetta that one can die in style. This is a statement on which to meditate. Style, with all that this concept implies. I said, the peninsula, its spell, the charm of our area. There are descriptions of landscapes on which the author indulges, caressing them through the eyes of those who love. I was very impressed by what mother Irena told Violetta during her first visit to Italy: “Of course, you have not had to choose between freedom, love and beauty because you are getting it all together.” Dance and love, the two thematic areas on which we are focusing our conversation. Dance is an art and art is the key component in Violetta's human and artistic life. In this mother-daughter dialogue, I found one of the most exciting moments of the novel: Irena asks her daughter if her eyes would have been able to withstand so much wonder in such dazzling beauty. Violetta replies: “I didn't get to know it, nor I care to know. My parable was intense when I devoted my life to art and love.” To absolute, therefore timeless values. The time factor loses its conditioning profile, its hostile trace. Those who live of art and love are like Tosca, they already live in the eternal. This is another beautiful passage, another thread of the novel: the art of winning the limit of time to overcome the schism given by death. Violetta, a cosmopolitan muse, who has captivated our author and triggered his story-telling ability. Violetta as a synthesis of dance, art, love and beauty. Violetta as a bridge, the pontifex. This is another image used in the novel. This bridge between cultures, this intercultural dialogue that Lauro constantly researches in his works. In the beautiful telephone conversation between Violetta and Zarko Prebil, on the occasion of the ninetieth birthday of Violetta, this image is used precisely, because Zarko says: “The balance of your life can be summarized in two words, dance and love”, he insists on this dyad. “Your whole life has been and is a message of love, tolerance, dialogue between cultures, between different worlds. You've been a messenger of love, you've been a bridge, and the beauty of your story is that you have replaced the love for dance with the love for the beauty of nature and a man, your Fernando. The perfect love, that you had never reached and always searched for, and the beauty of this story, it is all in this choice. It's true that you left the art that you loved so much but, on the other hand, you loved and respected a man who fully reciprocated this. To truly love a person, without compromise, without having to chase the time to share together, it can become a work of art. It takes courage and not all of us have had this courage.” The topic of a love story as the experience that brings forth a tremendous creative energy. I will reflect quickly on the style. In a discussion I had with Raffaele a few days ago, I highlighted how for me his style is multisensory, how it stimulates all the senses, touch, smell and hearing. Whether it's a dress, a Balmain, or notes of Arpège by Lanvin, or silky freshness of a red silk scarf, or the scent of white roses that Violetta Elvin loves very much, or fresh fruit decorating dinner dishes in Palazzo Savarese on the occasion of Violetta's first visit to Fernando's family, or an image of the sea illuminated by the sun, or a sunset at the beach, or a night that Violetta can contemplate from the terrace of Palazzo Savarese, or the noise of waves crashing on the shoreline of Le Axidie. There is a beautiful scene of the light dance of Violetta, like a sea nymph on the sand of Le Axidie, and when Fernando sees it, he sees her for the first time in a sort of epiphany. Or the sounds of nature on Mount Comune, where in a sort of Panic ecstasy Violetta has a premonition, an intuition of the life that awaits her. The ability of the author to be able to describe and to know how to recreate these places with words. The fundamental component of his writing is, therefore, always the tactile ability to evoke situations, landscapes, places. This is a novel of dance steps, “Dance The Love”, created by Raffaele and Violetta using two artistic languages, different despite being within the common pool of art, un pas de deux, which twirls them both. Isadora Duncan said that dance is movement of the Universe condensed into an individual. Violetta has embodied this movement of the Universe, she still embodies this dance. I was a child and I remember her emerge from the sea of Le Axidie wrapped in a white bathrobe, it is a scene which is etched in my memory. The author has managed once again to create the rhythm of life through his writing. Yet again these two poles: dance is rhythm, life is rhythm, and heartbeat is vital rhythm. All the work of Raffaele Lauro, and this novel in particular, synthesize a breath of life, especially if it is made fruitful by beauty, culture, art and love, like a laus vitae, like a praise to life. It is a perfect circle, it makes me think of “Dance” by Matisse, where everything is in harmony, a harmonious cosmos, where the time limit is death; the topics that Lauro faces constantly in his works, and that never have the upper hand over vital and solar component. Love Universe, to be precise. Again, thank you.
Raffaele Lauro, Writer
If I had to choose a place to present this third novel of my Sorrentine trilogy, as mentioned by the speakers, the act of love for my homeland, I could not have chosen another location. Yet, I think there are so many enchanting places, from Sorrento to Massa Lubrense, and along the Amalfi Coast up to Capri. This place, however, I call the holy place of the Vican memory, both from the civil and from the religious point of view. It is the most representative place to celebrate not only an extraordinary woman, but also an extraordinary land, a wonderful land. If I had to choose a woman representative of my feminine archetype, who, as mentioned by Angela Barba, dominates all my work of fiction - as I have always said, without wanting to gain the applause of women, that I consider a woman the only way for the salvation of the world - I could not have picked anyone else but Donna Violetta. I had the privilege, the honour of meeting her. She has led a secretive life and allowed me through conversations to get know her universe world. That's why I wrote the previously quoted dedication to her, it is not a formal dedication, is a dedication of substance, because Donna Violetta, indeed, made me discover the love of freedom. Her whole life is a hymn to freedom and not just because she left the Soviet Union, the Stalinist regime, and arrived to the post-war England ruled by Labour, who took over after Churchill. Not only for this, but rather because in her life as an artist, in her life as a woman, she has made choices of freedom. In her valuable speech, Angela Barba caught the sign of what I was trying to describe. The scene on Mount Comune, where Donna Violetta looks from above the drop of the Lattari Mountains to Punta Campanella, which then plunges into the waters and emerges with the Isle of Capri, is a Panic, primordial scene. The crater of a great void, filled with seawater, the origin of the Gulf of Naples, is the womb of a mother, is the womb of the Alma Mater. That vision of Donna Violetta, I imagined it while interpreting her love of nature, not as a decadent aestheticism, not as landscape painting, but as the awareness of what nature gives us, and that nature must be respected. So if I had to choose a place tonight to close my trilogy, and a woman who had the highest representation of my feminine archetype, who dominates the entire trilogy, also “Caruso The Song” with Lucio Dalla and his love for his mother and his Oedipal relationship with her, I could not have made different choices. Thank you, Donna Violetta! In the book I have written all that I could write. The love of freedom and the art of dance, beauty and rigour. Rigour, in a country that no longer has rigour, where politicians have no rigour, doctors have no rigour, administrators no longer have rigour. Dance, as described by Massine, the great choreographer, who taught her the rigour and imposed iron discipline to enable her in a course of a few days to replace the ill Margot Fonteyn, and to triumph in the première of “The Three-Cornered Hat”, at the Opera House in Covent Garden. I would like to stop time tonight! Silence is needed, as highlighted earlier by the Mayor. I have to remember Donna Violetta, our meetings, her grace, her kindness to offer me tea. I have to remember the way she asked me to intersperse our conversations, that is, the grace, the beauty at the age of ninety-three, we have the courage to remind her this age! An extraordinary woman who, when I climbed the stairs of Palazzo Savarese, almost pushed by Riccardo because the stairs were very steep, not for her but for me, advised me from the top balcony: “Senator, walk slowly!” Like in a film scene. Almost comical. An over ninety-year-old lady advising me to walk slowly so I don't get tired! Mr Siniscalchi mentioned my dedication: the love of freedom, the love of dance and the love of life. But also the love of Vico Equense mentioned by Professor Ferraro. She herself gave me the key to read the novel, when she told me: “I came here in 1951 and I was amazed by the fact that in such a limited space one could find all the beauty and wonder created by nature. High mountains with extraordinary vegetation, hills, beautiful villages, the plain, these buildings, which seem to come to the edge of the coast, this cathedral, which stops them from falling down, this coast, which seems like a Gothic cathedral, this sea, these sunsets. In many parts of the world I've seen natural wonders of great beauty, but I have never seen so many and so complex elements enclosed in a confined space!” I say to you, the Vicans, following the lead of Donna Violetta: love your land, defend it and protect it, because this is the only wealth that can still be protected. I conclude my speech to give the stage back to the Mayor, saying that the other night I was surfing on the internet and on a national on-line newspaper I found images of the departure of Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, who headed to the their summer residence in the north of the country on what is called a bullet train, a projectile train. The tenderness of those scenes reveals something incredible: the strutting dignitaries, the affable emperor considered a god on earth, and the empress at the Emperor side, the symbol of absolute simplicity. I love the Empress of Japan, and I have seen in her, in Michiko's gestures, the gestures of Donna Violetta. I thought: Michiko is Donna Violetta! There is, among other things, a link with the Empress. She studied in Florence, she also knows the Renaissance, just like Donna Violetta got to know it through information passed on by her father, Vasilij. I just want to say, because I had promised and I want to do it, even if I touch on the infinity of the delicate affective area of Donna Violetta's life. Everyone mentioned Fernando, the Savarese family, one of the great families from the Sorrentine Peninsula. Well, I want to mention a dear friend of Donna Violetta, who died just a month ago. Tonight he was supposed to be here to present my book: Zarko Prebil, a great ballet dancer, who studied at the Bolshoi Theatre, and later on became a leading dancer in several theatres, étoile and choreographer, has formed dozens of young dancers. Zarko Prebil was the common thread that has allowed Donna Violetta to stay in Vico, to return to London when she wanted, and to never lose her connection with the world of dance, because Zarko Prebil was her informant, who reported her news, told her of the latest artists. Their friendship was also a way for Donna Violetta to give continuity, not only to love but also to dance as love. Thank you, everyone.
Andrea Buonocore, Mayor of Vico Equense
On behalf of myself and the Municipal Administration of Vico Equense, which I chair, of the city that I represent, I offer this plaque to Donna Violetta. It contains expressions of esteem and affection that the town today offers you through the book of Senator Lauro, because you've made, and you've helped make our city great. Today you live a discreet, silent life, a retired but not isolated life, as the senator said. We wish you a long life, we wish you all the best, we hope for you to further enrich our city with your presence. Donna Violetta, please accept this plaque on behalf of myself and the director of the Social World Film Festival, within which this event falls in its own right. Please recognize in this plaque the affection and esteem that every Vican citizen, of every time and of all time, feels towards your worthy person: “To Violetta Elvin, the bright star of the world of dance and an extraordinary woman, whose decades-long bond with Vico Equense is now celebrated by the whole community. With deep admiration and gratitude, the Mayor and the Municipal Administration.” Thank you.
Thank you. I wanted to say a few words, but now I am speechless. You've said so many beautiful things about me. I'm very honoured because all this has taken place in front of this monument that I loved very much with my husband. The Professor was right, the beauty of Vico Equense is extraordinary. When I sent the telegram to my mother, this might seem like a naive story, after I had moved to Vico Equense, having left England, I wrote: Mom, I've left London and now live in the Gulf of Naples, in Vico Equense. The next day I waited for her answer, but it did not arrive. I waited a few days, until, one evening at 11pm someone knocked vigorously at the door of our house. Fernando and I went to open the door. It was the postman from Vico Equense. Back then in Vico there was only one postman, whose name was Robertino. He knew everyone and he told us with that lovely accent: Sir, there is a telegram from Moscow. I thought that if someone sent a telegram at that time, something serious had happened. I opened the telegram and saw what was written: Where did you end up? I checked in many books in Moscow libraries. There's no Vico Equense in the Gulf of Naples! I want to add that for me it has been and is a great honour to live here. I'm awed by all the kind words that were said about me and I thank for them Senator Lauro, Mayor Buonocore, Director Nuzzo and Professors Siniscalchi, Ferraro and Barba. We must continue to pay tribute to this beautiful bay, because it never looks the same. When I look out the window at night, the whole Naples shines. The bay is stunning. We must continue to love this place and make it more and more beautiful. Thank you, thank you to all the present!
Andrea Buonocore, Mayor of Vico Equense
Now we must thank and pay tribute to Raffaele Lauro, who with this work wanted to raise a monument to Violetta Elvin and at the same time to Vico Equense. Finally we begin to speak well of Vico. This homage that tonight I offer to him in my name and on behalf of the the Municipal Administration, is a sign of gratitude for he wanted to invest time, imagination and skill to speak well of Vico. In fact, those who read this book will find there not only a praise of a wonderful woman, but also a praise of a unique area, which, as Donna Violetta said, we all have a duty to defend, protect and preserve, to improve it and to offer it to those who come after us. Allow me this acknowledgement because thanks to this wonderful book Senator Lauro celebrated our Vico. All of us, starting from the director of the Social World Film Festival, are doing our best and each in their small way must help to speak and to make others speak well of our Vico Equense. Thank you.
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