(The transcript of the event was prepared by Riccardo Piroddi)
Pasquale Pisano, Mayor of San Martino Valle Caudina
Good evening, everyone. I just wanted to welcome you all, who arrived here to join us to celebrate this great event: on 17th august 1986 Lucio Dalla sang “Caruso” in a worldwide première, in the Stage Area here in San Martino Valle Caudina. The Municipal Administration organised this important anniversary event with the intention to celebrate a great cultural moment which took place here in San Martino. Not coincidentally, this will be an event full of news and cultural initiatives announced by our guests, which we got to know in advance. It is clear, therefore, that I also thank everyone, who is taking part in this meeting. I want to welcome Professor Raffaele Lauro, a witness to Lucio Dalla on an international level. I want to thank the Deputy Chief of Police, Doctor Matteo Piantedosi, Doctor Golda Russo, Professor Cesare Azan, as well as Gianni Raviele. I feel obliged to thank also the guests present in the room: the Commissioner of Avellino, Luigi Botte, Dr. Giuseppina Marino of the Cervinara police, who has been of great help together with the commander of the police station, Marshal Pietro Lonardo, and, finally, the President of Città Caudina and Mayor of Airola, Michele Napoletano. As I said earlier, our Administration aims strongly to develop cultural initiatives. We have been gathering for only two months and, believe me, we have laid a foundation for important initiatives to be developed in the coming months and years ahead. We have organised a project linked with a Christmas event, aimed to promote Tourism by the Region of Campania, which for us is a very important opportunity not to be wasted. The idea is to make the Christmas “catuozzi” an event that is relevant at least at regional level. For us, culture means growth for a community and an affirmation of a community. Not surprisingly, we proposed another project to the Region: benefiting from the promotion of Cultural Assets, because we believe that the valuation of land resources will be the focus of the San Martino’s community, we intend to transform the Villino Del Balzo into a House of Culture to host there a number of initiatives that will be proposed tonight. For this reason we have decided to invite also the president of Città Caudina, because some of the initiatives will be sealed indeed by Città Caudina. Senator Lauro, I welcome you and I say see you soon, because we want to carry out all those initiatives on Lucio Dalla in such way to create occasions for growth and development of our community. Thank you!
Michele Napoletano, President of Città Caudina
Thank you, Mayor. Good evening, everyone. I am here for the second time in fifteen days and for the second time one speaks of culture. I am pleased, because talking of Città Caudina and Culture means determining added value to attribute to this valley. Fifteen days ago I expressed the idea of creating a Pro Loco of Città Caudina and shortly we will hold a meeting to finalise this proposal without eliminating the local Pro Locos. Having said that, I think that investing in culture is necessary. Mayor Pisano does a good thing promoting many initiatives of this kind. Città Caudina and the Mayors have to their disposal all the necessary resources to make it happen. Now the time has come to action and pursue. Dottor Raviele, I truly respect you, you have done one of the first interviews with me and I was very pleased, as I am happy to be here and to listen to the proposals that you want to suggest for Città Caudina. You have brought honour to this land and today your experience and your advice is something that we have to treasure. Mayor, I remain at your disposal for everything you want to create in terms of culture and beyond. Thank you for the invite and have a good evening, everyone.
Francesco Bello, Councillor for Tourism and Entertainment in San Martino Valle Caudina
Good evening, everyone! I also welcome everyone present at this event. I couldn't have imagined a better way to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the première performance of Lucio Dalla’s masterpiece, “Caruso”, in San Martino on 17th August 1986. Many remember that date as 19th August, but having carried out a detailed research, we have established that the exact date was 17th August. The Municipal Administration is to place a plate in the Stage Area to preserve that important event in the collective memory of the community of San Martino. What more special way to enrich this celebration, if not with the presence of Professor Lauro, one of the most important interpreters of the life and poetic of Lucio Dalla. Tonight we are going to present his book, which concludes “The Sorrentie Trilogy”, entitled “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”. It will be presented in two speeches, by Dr. and solicitor Golda Russo and Professor Cesare Azan. I give the floor straight away to Golda Russo. Thank you!
Golda Russo, Solicitor
Mr Mayor, President of the City Council, Palerio Abate, Councillor Francesco Bello, Professor Cesare Azan, His Excellence Matteo Piantedosi, first I would like to address my sincere thanks to Senator Raffaele Lauro for the honour that he grants me today. I am sitting at this table with a difficult task: to report on the work that concludes “The Sorrentine Trilogy” written by an educated and refined author, a honorary citizen of San Martino, and a close friend of San Martino. The task becomes even more difficult because the same task awaits Professor Azan, called Professor Rino, connected with San Martino by a deep bond of affection. Uncle Rino has been for me synonymous with Nunziatella, the historical military school on the hill of Pizzofalcone, master of classical studies, secretive poet, connoisseur of classical music, pianist and singer with a great voice presented to friends and family on special occasions. The curriculum of His Excellency Piantedosi requires no comment: Man of State, Deputy Chief of Police, an official of the highest institutional profile. I feel overwhelmed by real giants. I met Senator Lauro a year ago, last August, at the presentation of the novel “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”, followed by the screening of the eponymous documentary film. It was a hot August afternoon and the assembly room was full of attentive and curious inhabitants of San Martino. Today, in this very hall, Senator Lauro is a Sammartinese among the Sammartinesi. Our meeting was marked by an immediate harmony. On this occasion, while limiting myself to accompany uncle Gianni at the speakers’ table, I was able to share with him some thoughts, memories on the Pro Loco, on the concerts held in San Martino by the unforgettable maestro Lucio Dalla, on his winter “excursions” back home, on days spent in the company of my mother in Castagneto, awaiting the evening of the performance at the Stage Area. It was natural to exchange telephone numbers and within a few months, phone call after phone call, my relationship with the senator became increasingly strong and significant, to the point of finding myself involved in an important job: to assist in the drafting of a unique novel, set in San Martino, starring precisely Lucio Dalla. “Lucio Dalla and San Martino Valle Caudina - In the eyes and in the heart” is the greatest tribute that a writer could submit for review, at “San Martino Arte”, which has marked the history of this commune becoming a destination for national and international artists. Lucio Dalla, in particular, created with San Martino and with the Sammartinesi an authentic relationship, sincere and free from superstructures. On 17th August 1986 at the Stage Area, the singer-songwriter from Bologna performed for the first time his musical masterpiece “Caruso”, involving us in an extraordinary story. Today, thanks to the senator, we will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary. For this work, for this tribute to San Martino created almost spontaneously, yet with attention to every detail, I want to thank him publicly! But let’s come back to us, to today. The reading of “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”, which concludes “The Sorrentine Trilogy”, for me began the day after the tragic events of Nice. I believe the story of the protagonist, Violetta Elvin, along with her beloved Sorrento and Amalfi Coasts, served me as a refuge and as a lifeline. The evening rendezvous with the Russian dancer took me away from the terrible and violent reality. Violetta’s existential parable is a perfect synthesis of discipline, sacrifice, courage, skill, elegance, tenacity and love. She was just seven years old when, accompanied by her father (the man who as first imprinted in her the chrism of love for beauty, declined in its every aspect, from ballet to the works of the Italian Renaissance) she made her entry into the temple of ballet, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, to see the performance of “The Sleeping Beauty” by Tchaikovsky. This event shaped her fate, it marked her destiny. “The Sleeping Beauty” opened Violetta’s career at the Bolshoi, and closed it after only ten years in Covent Garden, in London. Her life, both professional and private, seems the life of a romantic heroine: the admission to the Bolshoi dance school meant for Violetta the beginning of years of strict training, of learning discipline that leaves nothing to chance. Years of barre workouts, the most gruelling effort, endless repetitions of techniques of the art of Terpsichore. The historical scenery was not an easy one: the October Revolution was bringing its radical changes. Real socialism and Leninist theories drew a new Russia, very distant from that of the Romanov court. Historical events happened precipitously and brought for the Russian people the catastrophic surprise of Stalin’s rise to power. The new “Tsar” plunged the country into the darkest terror. The fear of denunciation, a culture of suspicion, the madness of the new dictator, who saw enemies of the regime anywhere, irreversibly marked Violetta’s life, as she was forced to move from one Russian city to another to rejoin the dance company. Those journeys were long, exhausting, without comfort. Violetta will never forget the sense of fear and anguish, which she constantly lived with in those years. That veil of caution and fear will not leave her, even later, after transferring to London and further on to Italy. Meeting her first husband, an Englishman, Harold Elvin, will represent the first major personal and artistic turning point for her. Her love for this Londoner will allow her, not without bureaucratic difficulties and longing, leave the Great Mother Russia to arrive to Europe, to London, where her career will reach its most significant and important years. With the Royal Ballet, Violetta Elvin will express the magnificence of her dancing, touching the highest points of choreographic perfection and stage maturity. Lovingly assisted by Ninette de Valois, Madam Ninette, the director of the Royal Ballet, Violetta Elvin will be performing in the most prestigious theatres of the world, the Royal Opera House in London, La Scala in Milan and the San Carlo in Naples. The London audience adored her. But the life of the young Russian dancer was ready for a new twist. Her indomitable and passionate spirit will lead her to a small town in southern Italy, Vico Equense. A town so small that it was not even reported on maps controlled by her mother, Irena, who after years apart could be reunited with her daughter in Vico, tenderly welcomed by the man who had become in the meantime the protagonist of Violetta’s new life, the beloved Fernando. The son of a rich and well-off Vican family, Fernando Savarese will represent for Violetta the absolute love, a reference point of life and for life. Fernando loved Violetta with an overwhelming and passionate love and it was reciprocated. For this love Violetta not only abandoned, against the advice of all, a career on the rise, but also defied the social conventions that lingered in Italy, in particular in the Southern Italy in the '50s. Fernando knew he had to wait for her, presaging perhaps the inevitability of that bond which was to unite them forever. The strength, the depth of this feeling represent, in my opinion, the key to the artist’s personal and public story. Her choices will be made always and only for love. The love of dance, of beauty, of art, of nature, and for Fernando! For this man, Violetta decides not to perform more, to leave dance and theatre that is “jealous of the people who are part of it and cannot be shared with other passions”. Here it is. The Story of Violetta Elvin is expressed in the title of the novel, “Dance The Love”, Dance and Love. Violetta and Fernando will devote their lives to caring for each other, living between Vico Equense and London. They will have a son who will unite them, if possible, even more. Their will lead an exciting life, full of important friendships and acquaintances. The London jet set will be home in Villa Savarese, and Vico Equense will be the dream stage to welcome their many international friends. Vico Equense and the Sorrento and Amalfi Coasts, in fact, are the co-protagonists of this novel. The tribute that the senator continues to make to his homeland is poignant. He describes its places, smells, colours, moods and nuances. Mount Comune, so dear to Violetta, the Li Galli islands, Positano, the wonder of the sea that merges with the sky, and again the enchantment of the Gulf of Naples with the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida. All described with uncommon skill, with the not merely technical ability of a writer, and consumed with a rare poetic sensitivity. A sensitivity that only a child can express to their mother earth. The story of nature, of the beauty of the Sorrento-Amalfi coast is written without exaggeration: proceeds with dry style without ever falling into rhetoric. The descriptions recall brush strokes which the French Impressionists painted on canvas. Everything becomes colour, light and moderation! The love for this piece of heaven penetrates with all its power the pages of the novel. It not only just creates a backdrop, it becomes the protagonist. The tribute that Senator Lauro has paid to Sorrento and the Sorrento-Amalfi Coast with his trilogy is a clear sign, an irrefutable evidence, how attached he is to his land, to these extraordinary places. The stories of the artists whom he knew and whom he immortalized in his novels would have certainly been different if they had not taken place between Sorrento, Amalfi and Vico Equense. Several times in his latest novel we read that: “A ballerina is like a precious stone, if you see her alone, she is beautiful, but only if she is set in a ring, she becomes the most beautiful.” The ring in his works, in his novels, is certainly the Sorrento and Amalfi Coast. To you, Senator, if I may, to the new Municipal Administration, which has made this meeting possible, in particular to the new Mayor, Pasquale Pisano, an all time friend, to Councillor Francis Bello, with whom I share feelings of deep friendship and esteem, and to the President of the City Council, Palerio Abate, a brother and a reference point for me, I want to wish what Shankar, the devout Indian collaborator of Donna Violetta, wishes her on the day of her birthday, the gift of the four graces: long life , good looks, tranquillity and energy. Continue to love us, Senator, as San Martino and the Sammartinesi love you. Thank you!
Cesare Azan, Professor of Literary Subjects
Authorities, ladies and gentlemen, on page 223 of the work of Raffaele Lauro we read the words of Zarko Prebil, choreographer-dancer, a friend of Violetta Prokhorova especially in the last years of his life, who speaks about her life story: “A small story? Not at all, Violetta! It is a story, which is so beautiful, so interesting, so refined, so educated, and intertwined with all the historical and political context of the twentieth century. This story cannot be forgotten.” And then, the first merit of this book is retrieving this story from the darkness of oblivion and having it delivered, a bit like the ancient bards of Homeric mould, by collecting stories spoken by the voice of the old of the past, and then transmitting them in form of a written testimony. This testimony is important because it presents to us the events that affect the life of an exemplary woman. With this book, Raffaele Lauro completes his Sorrentine trilogy, as Elias Canetti, the German-speaking Bulgarian writer would say, the three branches of a large tree, which embraces them and feeds them all. Lauro, the definition does not sound at all improper or out of place, is an irregular of letters, but so were Carlo Emilo Gadda, an engineer, Ettore Schmitz better known as Italo Svevo, an industrialist. Professor Lauro worked in other professions and carried out institutional activities. Numerous legal and economic publications, fourteen pieces of fiction. He approaches writing, therefore, not as a professional. Felix culpa, because, if they lack pompous expression, the rhetoric, the anxiety of stylistic perfection, the better. And here the enormous quality of work and of the book come out, the enthusiasm, the genuineness of the narrative, the spontaneity and what is immediately striking, the extraordinary attention to detail, figures, characters, events, narrated with meticulous richness that could initially seem overwhelming for the reader. Unless an intelligent reader understands that it is only an expression of love and a great impulse of passion, which leads the author to not leave anything out, the result of a call of duty and a profound act of love. Therefore, for the main character – dance and love, and for Raffaele Lauro – places of his origin are the deep love. This work, which the author defines as fictionalized history, what is it? A biography? We know that the definition of biography goes beyond a strictly literary dimension. This biography has considerable lyrical passages, significant spikes of emotional nature and, as such, can not be coldly defined as a biography. A Bildungsroman? Yes, because we follow the story of Violetta in the making, in its dramatic events. Violetta grows, develops, becomes a woman in front of us and, therefore, this aspect is also present in the work. Perhaps, the true nature of this work is that of a novel-essay, because so many red lines run across it and characterize it. I remember the great father of history, Herodotus, who around the core of his historical narrative was interested in everything, habits, customs, religions, sacred ceremonies, people whom he visited, gathering details, but at the same time providing the reader with a broad and comprehensive picture of the context in which the action took place. This support is never superfluous, but it is always necessary, because it serves to frame and arrange the role of the protagonist. What are these complementary red lines? First, the political thought of the author is very much alive, supporting the position of Violetta, the deep hatred of totalitarianism, dictatorships, politics based on violence. As Violetta lived the first part of her life in the age of Stalin, this attitude is often expressed with very harsh and decisive tone, with which to tell the truth I fully agree. I will read to you a description of Stalin: “A despotic and cruel dictator. He entered with guns blazing with violence, abuse, and oppression into the depths of existence of people, in their private actions, in the untouchable sphere of their freedom of thought, their passions, their hopes. Twenty million deaths, of class enemies, of comrades who were not in line, all eliminated with executions, without trial.” The other thread that runs through the work with a significant presence is the love of art, which unfolds through three streets. The great love for ballet, which is the reference point of the protagonist and which allows the author to provide a large number of technical information, information on the characters and on the most important ballet performances in the second half of the twentieth century. An then, music. Violetta loved in particular Tchaikovsky, knew Shostakovich and had regard for Rachmaninoff. This dense and deep relationship with music, constantly recalled and oriented to feed Violetta’s profound aspiration to a supreme form of harmony achieved through beauty. The third element is that of painting. There is this deep, visceral love, with significant and precise descriptions of the Italian Renaissance and Florence. We know that the real European Renaissance was the Italian one in Florence. To demonstrate the didactic system of the work and, therefore, the novel-essay, it has to be added that the last hundred pages of the book include a precious index of names, environments, and even structures and performances of the various aforementioned ballets. A small encyclopaedia of dance, which becomes very useful for the reader. For such a complex work one needs a particular style, which is not monotonous, nor homogeneous. I would say that it is the narrative polymorphic system, in which the author is now the external narrator, omniscient, now, with frequent eruptions in the course of the narrative alongside the story of the protagonist, proposing judgements and estimates, especially when the spanning narrative that is the drama of the story becomes high and the context becomes, as our great inhabitant of Irpinia, Francesco De Sanctis would say, a situation or a specific moment, outlined in its living story of pathos and drama. In the second part there is more dialogue, because the author prefers to do it the way that gradually Violetta expresses herself and tells the story of her life. Therefore, Violetta becomes persona loquens, becomes the narrator, to whom the author willingly gives the scepter of directorial narrative. And as if, at times, his words are not enough to express the charge of emotions, fears and joys, that the protagonist has within her. From a technical standpoint, excuse the insistence on the structural aspect, it is about defining the so-called formalization, that is, the narrative point of view, which is specified as a point of view at no focus, precisely because of the omniscient author’s ability to eclipse and insert himself. There is another important thing, because there is also an internal focus, in the sense that it is not only Violetta to speak, but many other protagonists. For this reason voices become a polyphony, a choral, and everything is intertwined in a game of relationships and exchanges, which give vibrancy and movement to the work and to the narrative itself. Then, there is the attempt of the author to arrive at what might be called a linguistic reflection of various characters, because he makes them speak - the characters! – depending on their cultural background and their attachment to a particular social role, by inputting, and this is yet another novelty, frequent lexemes and small expressions in languages different than Italian. The young couple speak Russian, the driver who accompanies them during their first visit to the sites in Vico Equense speaks broken English, a slang, like the one we spoke at the end of the Second World War when the Americans were in Italy. Among other things, it is an experience that Giovanni Pascoli had already tried in the “Italy” poem in the early twentieth century. This way, action gives life, the characters are delineated better and, especially in the second part of the book, Vico Equense becomes the stage that Violetta had left. The characters crowd around her, surround her. Despite her scrupulous reluctance she feels that the country that loves her and knows her lives within her. The difference is this: now the characters are living and real, they do not act. The real has imposed on the verisimilitude. I could not, however, conclude this analysis without speaking a few more minutes about Violetta. An extraordinary woman, alive and present in every moment of her existence, even when the everyday wife and mother life took away her leading role, the limelight and success. The painful stigmata of the twentieth century, tyrannies, wars, she has lived them all, it brought indelible scars, but she has never been overwhelmed by events and by disasters. From a young age she has been a tree with firmly planted roots, thin, pale, with her butterfly body, but determined, strong-willed, strong like someone who feels predestined. Through disputes with the authoritarian father, in the Stalin era, she forged her character, identified her goals, she never lost her way indicated by her hopes. Down the dark tunnel there was dancing, the ballet. The political events and the fear of retaliation suggested to her to take as stage name the surname of her first husband, Elvin. But Violetta has never lost her inner identity of a woman in love with deep and authentic values of her country, the Great Mother Russia. She has always sought to achieve in her life the fullness of love, in all shapes and sizes possible. This feeling led her in every moment of her life, when she fought in Russia against the cultural obscurantism, when, in England she dedicated herself to dance, with humility and perseverance, without aspirations to great successes. The three stages of her life, Russia, England and Vico Equense, correspond to the seasons of the year and of our lives. Russia is the winter, with pain and suffering; England is the spring, the rebirth; Vico Equense is the summer of happiness and fulfilment. Autumn, she is experiencing it now and we wish her for it to be the new spring. Violetta’s life looks like a Chinese box, the surprises come out, the goals are growing by the moment. At the base of her choice there is a resignation, very painful, for her Fernando, like Edward VIII for Wallis Simpson. At the crossroads of life, at the time of irreconcilable choices, Violetta opted for the dimension in which her destiny of a woman could be achieved in full, happy, serene and content. Thanks to the book that Raffaele Lauro offers us today, I like to propose, as an additional intermediary, this example of a woman to the female universe present here and beyond. I read recently that Lorenzo Braccesi, Emeritus Professor of Ancient History, published a book dedicated to Livia, the wife of Augustus, whom some, like Tacitus, depict as a true political organizer, others – as a shy and quiet woman. There is a strange dedication: “To all women like Livia, to beware of”. It is certainly polemics, but Violetta is not a woman to beware of. On the contrary. She is an example to look up to, because she has been able to combine anxiety and aspirations with the highest and most beautiful forms of life, with the acceptance of house chores as a wife and a mother, with the humility of a star that continues to shine a different light. So the citizens of Vico Equense have settled in her and live together, alive and present and, then, in her memory there are the great friends of the past, those whom she knew from the world of dance: Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, the great Léonide Massine and Maria Callas, with her tragic sense of life to which Violetta has always opposed the confidence and enthusiasm of individual’s ability to create and build their own destiny on their own. Faber est suae quisque fortunae, that is, each is the maker of their own fate. So, she is an example for the women of our time, so much focused at the right conquest of significant social roles, perhaps also uncertain in their choices and objectives. However, aware and determined, to whom the male universe until now has been able to offer only hatred and fierce violence, not the free competition of two different ways, equally necessary for social progress. One must ask: when choosing love for a man instead of love for dance, was Violetta really happy? Did she know how to deeply split her soul without feeling torn? We know that for her dance and life merged, the love for everything she did and dreamed, but was there ever in her any regret despite having been free to choose? The answer is given in the book, the final part of which ends with a dream. Violetta at the age of ninety-two imagines to be awakened at night by a phone call from Moscow, by the director of the Bolshoi Theatre who says that the prima ballerina cannot dance and, therefore, he needs her help. Violetta agrees, in spite of her age, and launches herself free into dance; she does not feel the weight of years, her limbs are fit, awake, agile, and she receives an applause from the living and dead spectators who crowd the boxes. It is no coincidence that the last words of the book are those of her husband Fernando who seeing her dancing there on that occasion says: “Bravo, you were perfect! You're beautiful!” In my opinion, this final is worth a different interpretation. I've come up with a beautiful poem from the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, an American poet. “In youth my wings were strong and tireless. But I did not know the mountains. In age I knew the mountains. But my weary wings could not follow my vision. Genius is wisdom and youth.” The irreconcilability of youth with old age, the inexperience of youth that will blend in with the knowledge of old age. Genius, perfection, is born from wisdom, which is the maturity. In youth there are forces. In my opinion, at the time of the dream Violetta wants to fulfil her impossible dream. Dance and love together, with her being the main character on stage, and the love of her life applauding her in the audience. That, to me, was a regret that Lauro caught in the soul of the protagonist, never expressed, but that shines very clearly from the book. Today we could have cultivated and fulfilled a dream: to have Donna Violetta here, among us, to thank her for having built her life in such a simple and meaningful manner. A star who has been able to turn off her light with humility, when the time came for the great decision. A miracle, we experienced it today with our affection, our presence, our attention and knowledge of this story that the beautiful pages of the book by Raffaele Lauro have given us. Donna Violetta Prokhorova Elvin Savarese is here with us, smiling, full of life, agile as always, a small butterfly, hovering, liquid, in the light air, tracing her elegant movements in the exhaustible realm of the beauty of dance. She is the protagonist today, so distant and yet present. Let’s greet her with a warm applause. She will happen to be still drunk with joy, the queen of stage of the time that has gone by, among her new already irreducible admirers. Us! Thank you!
Matteo Piantedosi, Deputy Chief of State Police
Good evening. I would like to say to professor Azan that if Raffaele Lauro is an irregular of writing, I am a violator of literary criticism. I will try tonight to bring my contribution, as I always have on occasions like this. I would like to make an introduction. I salute and thank the Mayor and the recently established Municipal Administration of San Martino Valle Caudina, to whom I wish pleasant work, for having honoured me with these invitations. For the third time I am here, for the presentation of a literary work of my friend, Prefect and colleague Raffaele Lauro. On previous occasions we discussed a strong bond on the fabulous backdrop of the Sorrentine Peninsula: the relationship of Lucio Dalla with that beautiful part of our land, which I came across and which I appreciate by following the family tradition as my mother was Neapolitan, within the greenery of our lands of Valle Caudina. So, there was Lucio Dalla whom somehow I met personally and who marked yet another part of my life, spent in the city of Bologna. All that is gone today, but the Sorrentine Peninsula remains, always beautiful, the unifying aspect of “The Sorrentine Trilogy” by Raffaele Lauro. Then, there is this beautiful story, on which I would like to say something. I would therefore like to present to you briefly, not to bore you exceedingly, some observations, which came to my mind while reading this book. I state, and I say this not to please Raffaele Lauro, that I have read and I always read his books, as they are written very well and as they are very pleasant to read. In this book, I found the domination of the historical component and references to historical context, which mark the live of Violetta. The great bond with her native country and with the historical events that Russia, then the Soviet Union, went through under the Stalinist regime. The first point concerns certain relentlessness, the inevitability of human affairs. There is a part of the book admirably written by the author, which talks about the important stage of Violetta’s youth, when she started attending dance studios, and started her training to become a world-famous dancer. At some point, all this crosses with a precise historical moment. It is 1939. The mother tells Violetta about the Foreign Minister of the Third Reich, von Ribbentrop’s visit to Moscow, which led to the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop cruel pact. An agreement that marked the hypocrisy and all the negativity of those two regimes, which pretended to be in agreement knowing that sooner or later they would have turned against each other because, in their meanness and extremism, they shared the idea of death, which was to lead them to the final battle. This is the background of a beautiful scene, a dialogue between Violetta and her mother, in which she says: “Well, I’m glad, because the war is postponed for a year and you can still study at the Bolshoi”. This brings a little happiness in the family, although she says this knowing full well that at the basis of that villain agreement there was the partition of Poland, her homeland. This woman chooses maternal love, to fulfil the potential of her child, than the love of her home country, despite seeing it at that time injured and destroyed by that unfortunate pact. My second point is the importance of people that the good Lord makes us encounter in life. The importance of the father in Violetta’s life. I see him as a fundamental figure. A father, who, in some way, adheres or does not contradict the communist regime imposed in those years, along with the socialist idea understood as the Stalinist regime, and, at the same time, is able to express, even in a very small house with two rooms, in a kind of a commune, and create a small corner, where he collects all the expressions of his sensitivity to art and culture: books, paintings, icons and precious family furniture. Lauro describes very well this apparent contrast between life standardized and impoverished by the communist regime, and this corner, where minds are awake. The soul of his daughter also stays awake, creating the basis for the artistic momentum that was to characterize her later. A deep bond between Violetta and the artistic inspiration coming from her father's sensitivity. My third observation is that of the narrowness of totalitarianism. I found this novel very interesting also from this point of view. As I said before, as a joke, I am a violator of literary criticism, but at the same time, I am a good reader of historical and also fictional essays, which today are very popular, especially on historical classicism. I have found the reconstruction made by Lauro on the background of historical events of that time very effective, especially in representing the meanness of totalitarianism without making judgements. Violetta took her first steps as a dancer in a historical moment in which the two giants of totalitarianism collided: the Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Russia. We think of the records of the dead, a result of the affirmation and of the clash, one after another: tens of millions of deaths, including the act of war itself and the Stalinist purges. All this, to suppress the freedom of individual, the freedom to express themselves, so that the “I” can become something to be locked in a jar and hold captive. This is shown very well in the novel. The misery of totalitarianism that we must always bear in mind, not only for the sake of historical revelation or for memory’s sake, but for it to become a lesson for us because, as claimed by Giambattista Vico, historical courses and recurrences may occur. We must, moreover, be careful not to think that these historical events concern marginal or distant parts of history. There is Germany, which was the home of the Romanticism, and Russia, which, as described in the novel, was able to cultivate arts in a unique way in the world. In those same places terrible events took place. A virus spread there. That’s why you have to pay attention to everything, also in anticipation of our future. Today, we should uphold the concept of suspicion towards totalitarianism, especially since it originally had great ideas of social redemption behind it, which later have proven to be negative and diabolical ideologies. One final observation: the free spirit of man that always wins. Violetta, the free spirit, is the proof of this. The search for a synthesis among opposites in harmony, the necessary requirement in all human experiences. This we must keep in mind, also to address the difficult new historical scenarios, always with our head held high, without fear, to affirm the freedom of man.
Raffaele Lauro, Writer
Good evening to all the present! I return to this place, sacred for the inhabitants of San Marino. It is a place of democratic representation of a community, which Golda’s mother in our first conversations called a politically sensitive community, an educated, intelligent community, like all the representatives of Irpinia of the highest institutional levels that followed over the years of our national history. With sentiments of sincere gratitude, I thank Mayor, Pasquale Pisano, who wanted to confirm the continuity of my relationship with this community and with the previous Municipal Administration. Greeting to my friend Mimmo Petecca, as I am grateful for what he did in the past, for the way in which he has been able to create this ideal bridge along with former Mayor Pasquale Ricci between Sorrento and San Martino Valle Caudina. Thank you, Mayor, for your intelligence, grace and style. We live in times in which style, also in human relations, has decayed. I always hoped for a change of leadership, of the political class, the hope which I still and always nurture, provided there is mutual respect and loyalty, also among political opponents. I thank the young councillor Francesco Bello, a brilliant son of this land, who organized this event to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the première of Lucio Dalla’s masterpiece, “Caruso”, with the participation of a figure that has enriched and enriches the history of this community, representing the heritage of its ideals: Gianni Raviele. I am pleased with the presence of the President of Città Caudina, Dr. Napoletano, because I will conclude my speech with proposals, which have already been the subject of discussion with Mayor Pisano and Councillor Bello. A heritage built by men like Gianni Raviele, the Dalla heritage, must not be lost, do not disperse it. Make it rather not only a great cultural, but also a tourist attraction of this community. Donna Violetta Prokhorova Elvin is not here, but she asked me to pass on her greetings to the Municipal Administration and to all the speakers. It is an extraordinary woman. You can go on the Internet and watch the report on the presentation of my novel in Vico Equense, in its national première on 27th July, where you will be able to visually grasp the exceptional nature of this woman. She arrived in the middle of the event into a standing ovation in the churchyard of the Church of SS. Annunziata, at sunset, at this unique viewing point on the Gulf of Naples, just a few meters from Palazzo Savarese, where she has lived happily for sixty years. Watch it and listen to her words. Donna Violetta is not here because at the age of ninety-three she has still remained an artist: she does not leave home before eight o'clock in the evening, she does not receive anyone before five in the afternoon. Her personal sanctum sanctorum is her bedroom. A sanctuary of memory. The bedroom of a Russian woman is a living museum of her life and her history. Donna Violetta has remained so young because, at Palazzo Savarese, she has never used the elevator in sixty years. She walks up and down, walks the four flights of stairs twice a day, on her own. So, when I, along with Riccardo Piroddi, went to interview her, the sweet lady at the top of the staircase, seeing me panting as I climbed, advised me: “Senator, walk slowly! Do not rush, you may hurt yourself!” This is Donna Violetta. She allowed me to interview her for many hours of recording, in which the historical memory of an extraordinary human and artistic life is preserved. It was the first time that, also in the presence of Riccardo, the only person allowed at the recordings, Donna Violetta told her story. She had been asked about it by journalists, connoisseurs, historians of dance, but she would always refuse in the name of her discrete life and that fear of the KGB, a real syndrome, which she has never recovered from. Donna Violetta thanks you for your applause. She would have wanted to participate in this event, but it's impossible, because she has never left Vico Equense before 5 pm. We find ourselves in front of an absolutely extraordinary woman, as Golda Russo wonderfully described her. Thank you, Golda! You mentioned our meeting in the past. I am grateful for that. I feel affection, respect and highest consideration for you. Tonight you proved, in a non-emphatic way, that you had grasped the female sense of this story. What can I say to Professor Rino Azan? When Francesco Bello suggested him as a speaker, I asked him what his job was. He replied, a Professor of Literary Subjects. Later on further information about Bello revealed his absolutely excellent criticism level, which was not only due to his educational activity. I must acknowledge that the opinion about him of Francesco Bello and Golda Russo proved to be far less than the outcome of his speech. In fact, an authentic essay of literary criticism of the highest profile. His speech about my book, independently from the fact that I wrote it, is precisely an essay in an essay, because Azan defined my novel as a novel-essay. I must quote myself, although I do not like doing it, because Azan used several expressions used by the jury of Premio Chianciano di Narrativa Opera Prima, which I won with my first novel, “Roma a due piazze”. His report takes in full consideration not only the stylistic and formal point of view, but the structural and content aspect of my novel. I published a book on the twenty-one stages of the Dalla Tour, which includes also speeches by Gianni Raviele and Matteo Piantedosi, along with other eighty contributions. I took the book about Dalla along the whole South, from Matera to Manfredonia, from Molfetta to Barletta. I don’t even remember all the stages, the speeches of a very high profile, but Azan wrote the most complete and definitive essay on this third novel of “The Sorrentine Trilogy” and we are only at the second event. Now we will go to Sant’Agata, then to Sorrento’s Town Hall and to Piano di Sorrento’s Council Chamber. Thank you, Rino. You’ve amazed me. I’m proud of your words and I think that your essay will be published soon, because it is so exhaustive that it does not need anymore adjectives. Matteo Piantedosi. When I asked him for the courtesy of presenting my book, I did it because I do not like bogged presentations, but the genuine ones. I prefer to listen to opinions of readers, and of course, of the readers of quality. For this, I alternate literary authorities such as Azan and figures such as Piantedosi, who present, however, an excellent level of culture and a special sensitivity. And, in fact, what did His Excellency Piantedosi extract out of this novel? The ideological component, the contradictions of nationalism, imperialism and totalitarianism, because Violetta Elvin was the symbol of this ability to fight. A conscious symbol. I owe to the mediation of Riccardo Piroddi, my co-worker and unconditional admirer of Donna Violetta, awarded with her personal fondness, the fact of being able to maintain in the novel the historical frescoes and passages on political ideologies. At the time of closing the drafts of the book, in fact, Donna Violetta, a great artist, began to have doubts, having read and corrected even the dots and commas of the text. Still dominated by the syndrome of the secret police, she expressed a desire to omit all references to Lenin, Stalin and communism. Fortunately, the patience of Riccardo and the fondness that Donna Violetta feels towards him, made her withdraw this wish, and allowed to keep in the novel the necessary historical-political scenarios and everything which has been brilliantly described to us by Prefect Piantedosi. Thank you, Matteo. I can only imagine what the tutelary deity of San Martino Valle Caudina, Gianni Raviele, will say. I do not know if he will refer once again to the fact that my book has all the characteristics of a novel, but, for him, it is a great romance. He said it last year, and his opinion was very popular on the web among the comments on my book about Lucio Dalla, “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”. To conclude: this heritage, you, the Sammartinesi, you cannot disperse it, you cannot drop it into oblivion. The accumulated heritage of skill, intelligence and class of Gianni Raviele: you cannot throw it to the winds. You have to make it a stable and permanent heritage of this community. Allow me to make for that reason some proposals, which I have also discussed with the Mayor. San Martino Valle Caudina could be the ideal place to house a provincial media centre or, at least, a local centre of Valle Caudina dedicated to Lucio Dalla. Not a museum at all, but a centre for young people, a place of debate, of confrontation, a music lab, a workshop on the new communication technologies, on new media, on social media. Something we’ve already discussed with Mimmo Petecca. I must admit that the new administration, although still newborn and infant, is already running fast to achieve its program objectives. A structure, therefore, for the creation of which I remain available. I suggest to the Mayor to set up a committee chaired by him or Councillor Bello, so that the steps for the finalisation of a project, with approval of all the mayors of Valle Caudina, can be agreed to apply for adequate funding at the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities, in order to include it in the budget for the Campania Region for next year. The establishment of a technically advanced media library in need of permanent funding from the Campania Region. I repeat: I remain at your disposal, to work on the project and to put it through in right institutions. Moreover, I think that the consent of the President of Città Caudina, present here, and of the Mayors who hold offices in this area, can be a vital calling card for the presentation of the project to the President of the Campania Region. The second proposal: to hold next year the first national conference on: “Lucio Dalla a man, Lucio Dalla a poet, Lucio Dalla a musician”, articulating it, sectioning it and setting it on the ideal bridge, as a prelude to a twinning between San Martino and Sorrento. I am obliged to carry it as a citizen of Sorrento and an honorary citizen of San Martino Valle Caudina. The third proposal: to introduce a poetry award. Not just a normal poetry award. There are tens of those in Italy. A poetry award for music, that is, what Lucio was and what Lucio wanted to be in 1976, when, after the death of his mother, having overcome an existential and health crisis, he abandoned the great communist poet Roversi and leftist ideologies, and decided to become himself the author of his own texts, and wrote a beautiful song, “Com’è profondo il mare”. Those were my proposals. The second and the third one are quite easily done, including their financial implications. In the coming days, I am meeting the Mayor of Sorrento, Giuseppe Cuomo, to inaugurate this bridge between the sea and the mountains in the name of Lucio Dalla. Thank you all for this wonderful and exciting gathering, which I hope does not end tonight. I want to make a confession. When at the beginning of the evening the group sang “Era de Maggio”, the singer highlighted an absolute truth: Lucio Dalla, interviewed by TG1 after the publication of the ranking of the most beautiful songs of the century, with the winner: “Imagine” by John Lennon, said that Lennon’s song should go to the second place and the first place was deserved by “Era de Maggio” by Salvatore Di Giacomo. To conclude. Benedetto Croce argued that ideas walk on human legs. Otherwise they remain ideas. Without intelligent and determined administrators my proposals would risk to go unheeded. I trust, therefore, Pasquale Pisano, Francesco Bello and all other collaborators of the municipal administration to continue the work of the previous one, because the heritage of Dalla belongs to everyone, but first of all to the Sorrentines and to the Sammartinesi, and to the new generations of Sorrento and San Martino. Thank you!
Gianni Raviele, former Chief of the Cultural Division of TG1
I am in the same situation as the highly awarded English playwright George Bernard Shaw, who during a ceremony, after receiving so many tributes and many words of appreciation, said to the audience: “Would you like a long speech or a short speech?” George Bernard Shaw was a miser, a miser of words, a miser of contacts, he dodged the public and did not have many relationships. “Give us a short speech”, they replied. George Bernard Shaw was taken aback, then the audience requested: “While you’re there, give us a long speech.” George Bernard Shaw replied: “Many thanks!” Dear Senator, what can I say to you? Deputy Chief of Police, dear Rino. I will not give a speech about Violetta, but I will make a brief remark about current events, in the sense that, the Mayor at the beginning of our evening remembered the drama suffered by the populations of Amatrice and Arquata del Tronto. Why do I want to recall this? Becasue the Pro Loco of San Martino Valle Caudina has been there. When we crossed the gorges immersing ourselves in a stunning landscape, I remember a dear Sammartinese, Clemente with a split lip, because he had a harelip, who told me: “Mr President, where did you bring us? Mountains, mountains everywhere. We have our own beautiful mountains, and you brought us here to see other mountains!” And I replied: “Do not worry, you will feel better, because here we eat really well!” We arrived to Amatrice, we booked accommodation at the Roma hotel, and there was sixty of us. The restaurant owner, knowing that we were coming from the province of Avellino, involved himself to prepare an extraordinary amatriciana. We ate at noon in L’Aquila. At the table there were dozens and dozens of plates of spaghetti all’amatriciana. Three of our fellow citizens set up a challenge, Dr. Cocozza, Clement and Carlino, the newsagent. It was a battle until the last plate. So, these three remained sat down eating until three in the morning. A few days ago I saw Carlino and asked him, if he remembered Amatrice, and he said: “Sure I remember it! You made me do a ‘spanzata’!” I told this story as it is linked to a local fact. When there was the earthquake in Irpinia, the Pro Loco organized a conference in this room. We called the mayor of Gibellina, Mr Ludovico Corrao, the mayor of Gemona del Friuli, a beautifully reconstructed village, the mayor of Conza della Campania, with its centre destroyed by the earthquake, and Mario Trufelli, my fellow journalist, who, coincidentally, recorded the effects of the earthquake. While we were talking about the reconstruction in Irpinia there was another strong quake, also felt in this room. There was panic and even my cousin Antonio threw himself from the balcony. I say this because the mayor of Gibellina, Corrao, who died a few years ago in tragic circumstances, brought one million liras and handed it to the mayor of San Martino Valle Caudina as a tribute of a city of Gibellina destroyed by the earthquake, to a town in Irpinia. Because of this I put my first proposal. The City Council of San Martino Valle Caudina to take the initiative to allocate a quid, a something, I cannot quantify it, because then I not know the availability and the budgets of municipal funds, in favour of Amatrice, Arquata del Tronto or other towns affected by this tragedy. In this circumstances we must reciprocate the solidarity that they demonstrated before. The second thing. What can I say to Golda and Rino? Can I ever say to my relatives: you blew it? No. You’ve heard their class. This is the product of San Martino, dear Senator Lauro. Golda is a young sapling that is going to go places. For Violetta, I remember that she made me think of “Dancers” by Degas, a French Impressionist masterpiece. A beautiful pictorial work, as beautiful as the book of Senator Lauro. He will have to write another one, but not about Dalla. There are enough books dedicated to him. Lucio is in the soul of the Sammartinesi. The City Council, the mayor, the council must give effect to the initiative of the previous administration: to affix a plaque in the Stage Area, and in memory of the memorable evening, when “Caruso” was performed. I conclude my speech by addressing the President of Città Caudina, who honours us with his presence, a Sammartinese let by to Airola. In the following days “Il Caudino”, under my initiative, will launch a proposal called “Caudio, the UNESCO Heritage Site”. We want to involve all local communities in this initiative, first, the union of municipalities and then all the municipalities in the area. We believe that there are grounds and justifications to advance this proposal. We have the Forche Caudine, which have become a universal expression known everywhere, but only a plaque remains, placed where we believe it happened in 321 A.C.: the passage of Roman soldiers under the forks. We don’t know how to take advantage of anything. A heritage of this kind in the hands of Germans, the lovers of culture and Latin civilization, would have been used to a great extent. We have the historical fact and the literary fact confirmation, Caudio, in fact, is mentioned in Horace’s journey from Rome to Brindisi. We have a necropolis, a museum in Montesarchio, we have so many resources. We can do this, starting well and in the right direction, without bragging credits, without thinking about extraordinary things, but with a firm step and with great caution, because the localism of other areas against this initiative will let loose, of course. We believe we can guarantee to our valley and to Caudio in particular a future of progress, culture and civilization. I conclude with an anecdote. There was a rhymester, he saw a pretty girl and had to make a eulogy. He started like this: “I would like to sing those eyes”, and then he paused. “I would like to sing those eyes”, and then he paused again. Vincenzo Monti, a famous poet from Milan, was sitting next to the girl. The rhymester tried for the third time: “I would like to sing those eyes!” To which Vincenzo Monti replied: “And sing her arms, and sing her chest, but quickly put your rhyme to rest!” Thank you!
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