SORRENTO (10TH SEPTEMBER 2016) TOWN HALL COUNCIL CHAMBER THE PRESENTATION OF THE LATEST NOVEL OF " THE SORRENTINE TRILOGY" BY RAFFAELE LAURO, “DANCE THE LOVE - A STAR IN VICO EQUENSE” THE SUMMARY OF SPEECHES BY ANTONINO PANE, GIUSEPPE CUOMO, MARIA TERESA DE ANGELIS, CARLO ALFARO, MARISA CIMMINO, PAOLA SAVARESE, NADIA DI LEVA, RAFFAELE LAURO AND VIOLETTA ELVIN

10-10-2016

(The transcript of the event was prepared by Riccardo Piroddi)

Antonino Pane, Journalist

Good evening. Take a seat please. I confirm that this evening we will be joined by the protagonist of the latest novel by Raffaele Lauro, Violetta Elvin, who’s just on her way from Vico Equense and will be with us shortly. In the meantime, let’s begin. We will welcome her properly as soon as she arrives. We are here to present the third volume of “The Sorrentine Trilogy”. Professor Cesare Azan in his extraordinary review of this work recalled Elias Canetti, comparing the trilogy to a tree with three branches. I would say something more Sorrentine: I imagine Raffaele, for the historical bond that we have, as his favourite fruit tree, the orange. From that orange tree, we have picked three oranges. The latest novel, “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”, represents a new proof of a great skill of a man of culture such as him, able to immerse a historical figure in a real story within a historical, political, cultural and philosophical context. Raffaele has managed to put together his whole encyclopaedic knowledge for this beautiful story worth knowing, and it is rich, truly rich. A story, the protagonists of which seem to be all the mentioned figures. I will not say anything else about the book, as it will be reviewed in more detail by the speakers. I now give the floor to our Mayor, Giuseppe Cuomo, who will give a welcome speech. Thank you!

Giuseppe Cuomo, Mayor of Sorrento

Good evening, everyone. Again we find ourselves here in the Council Chamber of our Town Hall to thank Raffaele Lauro for his new work. “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense” had its première in Vico Equense, as its action takes place mostly in Vico. It tells the story of the great Russian dancer Violetta Elvin, who for sixty years has lived in Vico Equense. A mentioned by Antonino Pane, this work is a part of “The Sorrentine Trilogy”. Raffaele Lauro embraced three protagonists, three stories and three different historical moments of our land. Important moments, which some of us have probably not preserved or which some of us have forgotten. Through those works, however, everyone can get to know what happened in our city and in the Sorrentine Peninsula. I join the thanks to Raffaele Lauro, who motivates us with his books and his initiatives. We are working together on a project, which we’ve decided not to reveal as yet. An initiative of great interest, which we received instantly. It is important to follow the suggestions and listen to those who love our land, because cultural events make our city and those who live their daily life here grow. For this I want to thank again, officially, Raffaele Lauro, as well as all the speakers, who are going to present this new work. I also thank you, for gathering in large numbers to listen to the presentation of a work of a true Sorrentine. I thank again all the cultural institutions which work in the area, because by working together we will continue to make Sorrento greater and greater. Thank you, everyone!

Maria Teresa De Angelis, Councillor for Culture

Good evening. Welcome everyone. As a Councillor for Culture I am truly happy to be here at the presentation of the latest novel of my Professor, „Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense“. It is a beautiful book, a part of a trilogy, “The Sorrentine Trilogy”, along with “Sorrento The Romance - The conflict between Christianity and Islam in the sixteenth century” and “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”. The author, our Professor Lauro, puts together in his novels topics of various natures, and manages to write fascinating and engaging narrative works. I don’t want to go on for too long and take the time of the present speakers of authority, who will surely tell us about this book in a more detailed way. I want to conclude with the same words, with which I closed the previous presentations of Professor Lauro’s novels. Thank you, Professor Lauro! Thank you for having donated to Sorrento yet another compelling and prestigious work. Thank you!

Carlo Alfaro, Paediatrician and Cultural Animator

Good evening. This will be an all female presentation. I can see many dear friends here, which makes me truly happy. It is nice to be seated at a table next to people dear to you. We have known each other for a long time. My first thought is not to take the time of other speakers and of what they have to say. This book, “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”, shows everything on it’s cover, presenting the three elements which illustrate the three periods of the protagonist’s life. Raffaele Lauro is a great writer, who managed to tell a story of a life, turning it into a beautiful novel. In the skilled hands of a writer like him any story could become fascinating. It was said that Vittorio Gassman, when reading a telephone book, made it become something emotional, like poetry. Raffaele described the story of Violetta, this beautiful and special story, so rich to seem like a fantasy, and synthesised it into three periods. The time in Moscow in a very difficult historical context of Stalin’s dictatorship, when Violetta studied dance in the prestigious and very strict Bolshoi Theatre School. Here is the image of the façade of the theatre in the background of the cover. Then the great success, the second period of Violetta’s life, when after marrying an English diplomat, Violetta moves to London and sets onto her journey towards freedom. The second period of her life, of being an artist and becoming a world famous star of dance at the Royal Ballet, is expressed in the image of her silhouette. Finally, the third period, in Vico Equense, when at the age of only thirty three she decides to retire from stage to live with the love of her life, Fernando Savarese, falling in love also with the landscape of Vico Equense, is illustrated within the image of her dancing figure. There are very expressive elements in the book cover, as well as in the title: “Dance The Love”. A title difficult to interpret? What does “Dance The Love” mean? If we want to translate it, it is dance love, the love of dance, dance that generates love, love is dance. To think it through, all novel titles in “The Sorrentine Trilogy” contain this English definite article, “The”. Sorrento is The Romance, quintessentially a city of love, of romanticism, of history, full of sentiments. Just like Caruso is The Song, the most beautiful song, the masterpiece of Lucio Dalla, a song destined to become eternal. And finally, Dance is The Love, dance is love. We could say that for Raffaele Lauro love is the common thread of all his narrative work. A non improvised story of a writer, because it is already his fourteenth publication the main thread of which is love, especially love for his native land, as the protagonists of his stories love this land, our land, deeply and intensely. Raffaele Lauro never forgets to promote our land culturally, one can say ‘to perform its marketing’, through these book, which are also pleasant to read and filled with thrilling events. Raffaele Lauro intensely loves his land, his native land, and his every book is a tribute to his beloved origin. And then there is the dedication to Violetta Elvin, the declared protagonist of this novel. The star of dance, with an incredible story, a splendid artist and a courageous woman. In this word, woman, there is another fundamental element. Raffaele Lauro is a great admirer of the feminine figure. In his literary work, in his life, he has confirmed it many times that it is women to save the world. He is a convinced defender of it and a great promoter of female dignity. Violetta becomes a symbol, an icon of femininity, intended in a fuller sense, as an artist, as an image of beauty, of purity, of an enchanting dedication to everything feminine, also as a wife and as a mother. A courageous woman, as it will be said also by my fellow speakers, because she made courageous choices, like the last one, the one to leave her career in the height of success, as an international star, to come and live in Vico Equense. Everything for love. She was also a woman of freedom, because her choices were choices of freedom, like when she was intolerant to the Soviet regime and totalitarianism, because she did not accept their prohibitions and rebelled even to her father, whom she also adored, because he had taught her everything. This novel is also a celebration of the art of dance. For Raffaele Lauro the art of dance is not intended only as ballet, but as art in general, therefore this book is a tribute to the Italian Renaissance, to the great artistic heritages of Italy and to the extraordinary natural beauty of Vico Equense. This love for nature, we find it also in other books. All the other protagonists, such as Marino Correale in “Sorrento The Romance” and Lucio Dalla in “Caruso The Song”, have the eyes of Raffaele, they are in love with the beauty of their land. Furthermore, the author’s tribute to his maternal grandparents, because yet another value of this book is represented by deep and established love for family. Now, to talk about the content of this book in more detail, I leave the floor to other fellow speakers. However, I would like to add one more thing, a very personal thing, for which I would ask you to hold on one more minute. As many of us in the Sorrentine Peninsula, I had my own Violetta, a ballerina whom we all love, and who has left us not long ago. I want to remember here, this evening, Raffaella Pandolfi, my dearest friend. Thank you , Raffaele. I was moved while reading this book, I thought of how much Raffaella loved dance. While Violeta chose family before dance, Raffaella chose only dance. She didn’t have her own children, because her children were her students and her choreographies. Thank you, Raffaele! Thank you, Raffaella, as you are listening to us from Heaven. Thank you all for your attention!

Marisa Cimmino, Professor of Literary Subjects

Good evening. When in 1985 Italo Calvino wrote what was published posthumous as the „American Lectures“ (Six memos for the next millennium), the world of culture was involved in a debate on the crisis of fiction and its function in literature. Calvino raised this question while re-reading with polished acumen the significant texts of Western literature, and entrusted the survival of literary art to certain values or specific nature, which it was to carry over into the next millennium. The first of those values is lightness, followed by quickness, exactitude, visibility and multiplicity. Two of these categories, lightness and multiplicity, have inspired my reading path through a series of elements, which I found as narrative and linguistic strands from the first pages of the discussed novel. “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense” closes in a splendid way “The Sorrentine Trilogy” by Professor Lauro, as the author likes being called. The title, which summarizes the two thematic poles, Love and Dance, with the first one intended as “creative madness”, and the other one as “inbred passion, which can only be disciplined” (however, I add “the poetry of body, able to speak without words”), and the light and graceful image of the cover page communicate immediately that the real world in which we move, sometimes lost, and where we bring so much heaviness, is in need of lightness. That we, stunned by the vulgar noise of so many, we need light, and that always, at every age, we should feel the leaves and flowers ready to give colours and scents to others. Let’s move on to the book cover: three overlapping images, a silhouette of a ballerina on the background of the Bolshoi, the mythical theatre, the temple of dance, and in the background a blurry profile of a symbolic place of the narrated story. In terms of the space-time: Moscow (1923-1945), her birth and training, rigour and self-discipline, imposed on a rebellious temperament, the starting point; Vico Equense, the realization as a woman, wife, mother (1956-2015), the destination point. At the centre, the ten-year parenthesis in London as the star of the Royal Ballet, and the key year, the year of radical change, 1956, which involves leaving dance and success for Love, the great, true and complete Love, the one that if you are lucky, you experience only once in a lifetime (“Not all of us – says her friend Zarko Prebil while discussing with Violetta a kind of a summary of life - have the courage to abandon our I for Us”). The story of the protagonist is like a story from a novel, indeed, from a fairytale, which reflects real life with its “behind the scenes”, a life that runs through tragedies and hopes of the twentieth century, from the Stalinist regime, to fascism, to Cold War, and the dissolution of the USSR. These brief notes on the narrative content express the multiplicity of levels and perspectives: fictionalized biography, novel-essay, Bildungsroman, social novel, a bit of a romance novel, compendium of the history of ballet, the multiplicity of perspectives, the multiplicity of topics. But let’s go back to lightness expressed also in the subtitle. A star, just like the very distant celestial bodies, shines and will continue to shine in the eternal space of art! The lightness, which I refer to, has nothing to do with superficiality. And light thoughtfulness is the attitude of those who live their life as a gift, of those who are able to at least get rid of the unnecessary burden, the superfluous, the hypocritical positions that pull us down and prevent us from trying to achieve the dream, to dare the physical and, above all, the mental flight like the protagonist did, not just once, but in all the stages of her intense life. When the world sentences us to heaviness we have to fly to other places, we have to raise like Violetta on our Mount Comune, to find a fragment of security, we have to have the courage to change. It is no coincidence that in the novels of Professor Lauro the topical place of a terrace reappears: the one at the Correale house, the one at the Excelsior Vittoria, the one at Palazzo Savarese and numerous natural terraces of our peninsula. Contemplating from above is a metaphor of looking that goes beyond, that changes our perspective, shows us new perspectives. I’d like to quickly mention a precise fragment of the book, in page 109, the deep, brief conversation between Violetta, the protagonist, and the divine Callas, on the precious jewels worn off stage by Maria as an armour that would protect her from insecurities, fears and pain, which unfortunately was not going to happen. Jewels that Violetta does not like and does not need to wear, if not on stage. The discourse touches also the theme of fate and self-determination, on one hand, the tragic concept of fate, on the other hand the Renaissance vision of anthropocentric “homo faber”: two women at the height of success, two different ways of relating to life. Let’s move on to the front pages, the presentation of the protagonist: “a woman, no longer young, arrived from far away, an elegant lady full of charm, almost diaphanous, a star unknown to most people, who has lived for over half a century in the golden enclosure of one of those ancestral palaces facing the Bay of Naples”. Here’s her discretion, the subtle charm, the aura of mystery that surrounds her, the hint of the mysterious and unfathomable paths of a life of passion, sacrifice, feelings, challenges and daring choices. Shortly after, she gives two examples of that Calvinian lightness: the elegant and ironic humour, “the comedy that has lost (in the words of Calvino) its bodily weight”, through the rapid dialogue with the faithful Shankar (this Indian aide seems so real!), and through the melancholy, that is “the sadness that became light” in the delicate gesture of greeting, before going out, towards the portrait of the man, whom she loved and who is never absent in the memory of her heart. Try reading the first pages of the novel from this perspective and you will realize immediately that there is no sadness or regret, but only the delicate nostalgia for those we no longer have next to us, and later, during the first meeting of Violetta with the Savarese family, you will grasp the slight tenderness of Fernando’s mother, an energetic woman and future mother-in-law of the protagonist, who when presenting family members lined up like a firing squad on the “wide open” terrace overlooking the bay recalls “our little Linda, whom we never forget to remember in our prayers, as if she was still with us today”, or when she offers the same menu after more than 10 years to celebrate the simple but so desired religious marriage. The lightness, that is one of the values which according to Calvino the literature should aim for in the new Millenium, is presented and analysed in all its forms in the, among others, historical content narrated in the stories of the protagonists and in a classically limpid style. In the writing of the novel, the lightness lives and dances literally through the use of the figure of speech of enumeration instead of many lengthy descriptions, with measured use of adjectives, with the choice of dialogue, which dominates the second part of the work, through the Horace amount of simple but elegant ornamentation, the scents that evoke elegance through senses, with Arpége by Lanvin (the never changed perfume), the success, the tenacious love of Fernando and the admiration of many friends and enthusiasts with white roses, which pour down on stage and flood the dressing room of Violetta, now an acclaimed dancer, freedom with the scent of the sea and the Mediterranean maquis, the land with its „mixture of scents of the sea, of the orchards and of the gardens of Vico Equense“, prepared on the table of the Savarese. Everything contributes, therefore, to create a light canvas, in which even the darkest events don’t sink into total darkness. Moreover, the words to penetrate into the deep should be mild, touching the existing and the inconsistent. “My hand, become a feather… and write about her”, this is by poet Giorgio Caproni; and another illustrious reviewer, Guido Cavalcanti: “Go, light and soft, straight to my lady”, or Montale on the vanishing Clizia, the custodian of humanistic values, able to oppose to the Nazi barbarism. The recipient and reviewer of the quoted texts is the woman-mother, the guardian of the most sacred values, the saving presence that comes back in every novel by Professor Lauro. And how else could the Professor approach the woman who is the protagonist of the novel other than by a writing definable as “modest”, careful to reflect confidence and elegance, devoid of easy sentimentality or excessive pathos that the extraordinary nature of the narrated story could easily determine? The image of Violetta who dances on the sea shores of Seiano, “this morning I saw the most beautiful sea in the world. My sea, where I was born”, is a cameo of extraordinary lightness. Not by chance, as I recall, Professor Barba spoke of an epiphany, a manifestation of divinity, and someone else about a Chagallian being. Violetta was traught about our classics by her exceptional father, an engineer-inventor and a passionate lover of the Renaissance. Here, then, the Venus born from the sea and the Lucretian Venus, “Aeneadum genetrix, hominum divumque voluptas, alma Venus”, at whom I’m pointing, blossoms and spreads life! And there are also the sculptures by Henry Moore, which celebrate the myth of fertility and rebirth after the horrors of war! The fiery crater, from which everything originates, and the love for dance, the love for life, for this magical set of nature and culture that is our land and the whole of Italy. The novel, the reading of which should be recommended to young people also for its formal aspects, moves therefore in the line of the recovery of classical literary language, called for most recently by Professor Giorgio Ficara, professor at the University of Turin, in his “Non-Italian Letters”. This novel, as the other novels of “The Sorrentine Trilogy”, tells us that with lightness and respect we have to get closer to nature, so often violated! Think of the “lightweight yards” mentioned by Renzo Piano in terms of the reconstruction in the earthquake-torn areas (“More than about the natural phenomena, he was concerned about the irrational reactions of men”, so the narrator makes the father of the protagonist speak, a well outlined character who captures us). We could read pages and pages chanting the beauty and harmony of Nature. Among others, the description in the beginning of the novel of Violetta’s vision of Mount Comune, or one of the descriptions given by her to the visiting friends. We could say a lot more about lightness, but I shall leave steps to be discovered by your sensitivity as readers. However, I would like to stop on a structural element, which contributes to the multiplicity and the lightness of the novel. The rich, full-bodied appendix, which allowed the author to eliminate many informative brackets and expansions. Everyone can freely consult one of the three indexes of names, places, ballets, to satisfy their curiosity, clarify or complete acquired information. It must not have been easy for the author to keep quiet and say nothing, leaving the reader called to immerse in the text, the “lector in fabula” of the memory of Eco, the ability to imagine and define the unfolding of events, emotions and feelings. The writing proceeds mildly on the most tragic events of the “short century” and of the “Decline of the West”, on the events that the reader reads through the stories and the voices of the characters such as Violetta, her father, many Russian exiles, artists in search of harmony, of human art, such as Alvar Aalto, the famous superstar, many of whom will find asylum and reception in our land. A few examples of constant interconnection between macro-and micro-history: the death of Lenin and the use of propaganda, which enabled Stalin to consecrate his image as the “little father” of the Great Mother Russia; life in collective apartments with shared facilities; pervasive control and elimination of all dissent; the creation of the gulags; the “Battle of Britain” and the English resistance; the second Elizabethan era and finally the cold war, all this through many other small and significant events, which closely affect the protagonist and on which I deliberately will not dwell. I will only mention the homage “forced” by her father to Lenin’s body, the convening of mother Irena, the infamous Lubjanca, the journey towards freedom, the ballet for the coronation of Elizabeth II, and, above all, the burning on the beach of Posillipo of the trunk, the custodian of a rich correspondence that incinerated an emotional heritage, which Fernando and Violetta were to regret forever, evocative of so many tragic fires. Yet despite her KGB syndrome, the silent lifetime companion, which made her not to teach Russian to her son, Violetta will never deny the love for her country and for her theatre, the Bolshoi. Images of fairy lightness close the novel. On the stage of her Bolshoi, in front of all the people dearest to her, the protagonist is dancing at the age of 92, in a visionary dream, for the last time, the ballet that she most loved: “The Sleeping Beauty”, a fairy tale ending that each of us would want to live. In the magic and perfect circle of a fairy-tale the human and artistic life of the protagonist can be accomplished, a life of a real woman who became an eternal figure. The three acts of the ballet are a metaphor for the seasons of life and nature, a loving kiss awakens Princess Aurora and, together with her, the whole castle awakes. A kiss of love is a gift from this novel to all of us! Thank you.

Paola Savarese, Entrepreneur

Good evening, everyone! Fist of all, the merited thank you to professor Lauro for having invited me to comment on his latest literary effort. I’m very excited, for such an important audience so I hope I do deserve this honour. I have to thank the Professor, also on behalf of all Sorrentines and all Sorrentine entrepreneurs, who base their activities on the beauty and the name of the Sorrentine Peninsula. With his latest work, Raffaele Lauro has once again immortalized in a poetic way the beauty of our land, its history and traditions, also the gastronomic ones. A heartfelt thanks. This book deserves to become a promotional gadget of our land. In this specific case, the scenario is moved to Vico Equense and I am sure that after reading this novel you will look at Vico Equense with different eyes because it contains extraordinary descriptions. It is not easy to put into words the emotions evoked by certain places, certain sunsets, certain views. Lauro always succeeds. I am especially excited today, and I owe it to three reasons. First of all, as a woman, because the story of Violetta was and is exemplary from start to finish. A strongly desired child, awaited by her educated and eclectic father, a special person. But also the intelligence of his daughter in having been able to grasp the teachings of her father. Children aren’t always able to recognize the specialities of their parents. Already as a child Violetta realized she was facing a person who had placed in her expectations for a special future. She knew how to follow her dreams. Then, as a determined, strong and disciplined teenager, and finally a woman able to claim her liberty and autonomy at the time of maturity, she knew how to recognize love, and decided to leave success and glamour of a city like London, a city very active culturally at the time, precisely for that love. I am also emotionally involved because I have blood ties with Fernando Savarese, who was my father’s cousin. I remember as a child, that one often spoke in the family of this beautiful and famous Russian ballerina, who had given up everything for love and lived in Vico Equense, a very sober life full of class, as she still proves to demonstrate. Therefore, finding myself here today to review her story based on these memories, it seems almost a sign of destiny, something that excites me very much. Finally, the relationship, which has always linked my husband, Salvatore, and me with Professor Lauro, which makes reading his books particularly pleasant for me. I always look in them and I always find there warnings and lessons of life. Raffaele Lauro has always been for us a person who helped us grow by teaching us a lot. For that, I thank him from the heart. I recommend you read this book because in my reading, as simple person, who loves to read, but that does not possess a vast literary knowledge, I found there traces of three major literary genres. An adventure novel, because Violetta’s life is adventurous, especially in the first phase, that of the Stalinist Russia. Then, a historical novel, although the historical events are treated very lightly, they invite to get to know more about them. Finally, a great love story. Truly, there is something for all tastes. Thank you very much. Thank you, Professor Lauro, and thank you, everyone!

Nadia Di Leva, President of “Friends of the Correale Museum”

Good evening. I’m flattered as President of the Friends of the Correale Museum to present the latest book by Senator Lauro, “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”. This work revives traditions, history, poetry, music, love for dance and faith, all building blocks of our genetic and historical heritage, which help form the hallmark of our identity. The novel, in fact, through the story of the life of a great dancer, Violetta Elvin, exalts the human and universal story of certain people and land, but above all, of a woman. It should be read from the perspective of women, because the main character, often accompanied by a distant nostalgia, embodies with her elegant temperament, with her plenitude of thought and with her fierce determination to fulfil her dream, her own freedom, the feminine ideal that every woman is called to represent in life. As the author confirms, she has been destined for a salvific role. Violetta Elvin has lead an intense life lived in three different places. Russia, her homeland, where she spent a peaceful childhood with her parents, although influenced by the Stalinist dictatorship. In Moscow, thanks to her father’s love for art, she attends the dance school of the prestigious Bolshoi Theatre, where she masters the art of dance so well that she is able to star as Princess Aurora in “The Sleeping Beauty”. Following the political changes that occurred in Russia, Violetta, after marrying Harold Elvin, moves to London and becomes a star of the Royal Ballet of Ninette de Valois, acclaimed and admired throughout the world. Finally, Vico Equense, where she arrives for the first time in 1951 for a causal holiday, after so many tours in which she played a leading role, from New York to Paris, from London to Milan, up to the San Carlo in Naples . And it is in our beautiful land, on Mount Comune, where Violetta makes her choice of life and freedom. In a place that her mother, Irena, couldn’t find on maps; in the beauty of this place, she finds peace that consoles her soul and which allows her to recognize the true love. That love that makes you happy and satisfied, to the point that she leaves her first husband and, at the height of her artistic career and success, she also abandons stage at the age of only thirty-three. Violetta made a courageous choice. She is the essence of personality of women, and just to experience love in its entirety she does not hesitate to sacrifice her career for the man of her life. Friendship is another key component of Violetta’s life, especially with her beloved friend Zarko Prebil, who has recently passed away. Prebil until the end of his life formed the link which connected Violetta with the world of international dance. Violetta’s human story is linked to another protagonist, the town of Vico Equense, with its landscape, always the same and always changing, with its smells, its flavours, with its places and its sea. An enchanted and wonderful place that collects all beauty, the masterly description of which, created by the author, refers to the scent of wild herbs and the rumbling of sea waves crashing against the rocks. It is the background for Violetta’s dream, who at the age of ninety returns to dance the role of Aurora in “The Sleeping Beauty” in front of her beloved Fernando, who sits in the front row, applauds her and as always gives her a bunch of white roses. Fernando Savarese was the love of Violetta’s life and in this novel love is the protagonist of a life dedicated to art and family and, again, of the wonderful story of a woman who, as my mother would say, has lived a life. A special thanks to Senator Lauro, who chose me for this presentation, to Riccardo Piroddi, a lovely person, whom I met on this occasion, and thanks again to Anna, who’s been there with sincere friendship. Thank you! 

Raffaele Lauro, Writer

Good evening. Before commenting on the merits of this beautiful evening enhanced by the presence of a star, Donna Violetta Elvin, to whom I am particularly grateful for the presence here in Sorrento, I would like to greet with her right away her dear friend who accompanies her: Mister Alex Bisset. I would like, tonight, to salute Mister Alex Bisset and also introduce him to you all. Alex Bisset is a very close friend of Violetta, one of the first admirers of Violetta in Convent Gardren, as well as one of the main characters of my novel. Thank you Mister Bisset for your attendance tonight. I would like now to thank publicly the Mayor of Sorrento, our friend Giuseppe Cuomo, and in particular councillors Maria Teresa De Angelis and Mario Gargiulo. The Mayor has followed, step by step, the birth, the growth and the conclusion of “The Sorrentine Trilogy”. Thank you, Mayor, thank you Peppino, because your support in this narrative journey was decisive. I hope, as I have already announced, that next year the trilogy will be published in English, in pocket format, to allow tourists who visit Sorrento to have this souvenir as a trace of love. Thanks to the municipal Administration, thanks to the Mayor, thanks to the councillors and to all of you. Thanks to Senator Armato, who is here having arrived to Sorrento, my great colleague from the Senate. We worked together in the anti-Mafia commission and in plenary hall. An extraordinary woman, whose presence is a great honour for me. There have already been three presentations of this novel, with extraordinary reviews of different kind, because I love to avoid ponderous presence at my presentations. I prefer educated readers, who are ordinary people, because these people can give straight forward interpretations, non overly structured, but immediate and genuine, as shown by Councillor De Angelis Antonino Pane, Carlo Alfaro, Marisa Cimmino, Paola Savarese and Nadia Di Leva. My path of the trilogy is an act of love for this land. What is the heart of my story? It is the beauty, which now seems to have disappeared from the horizon of the world. The beauty is denied in all forms, in the media, in the web and on social networking. What beauty? The beauty of nature. This must be a key reference point in the life of each of us. Who has watched on the internet the video from the presentation evening in Vico Equense? It is a beautiful place. The Churchyard of the Church of the Holiest Annunciation. The emblem of Donna Violetta, because Donna Violetta has leaned from that terrace for decades with Fernando, and later without Fernando. She always looked towards the Gulf of Naples, up to the first building in Naples. That thing that she immediately told me when I had the honour to visit her for the first time: I can touch Via Caracciolo with my hands from here. The beauty of nature. We are distracting ourselves. We can no longer see the beauty of nature in our land with clear eyes, without obstructions. It is not only our land to be beautiful, so is the whole of Italy, the whole of Europe, the whole world! We are unaccustomed to guard beauty. Critics and commentators have pointed out the insistent presence of nature in my novels, not only in orogenic terms, but also from the floral, arboreal and Mediterranean point of view, scents and colours. Living in colour, a song of this summer, going for more. Look at the colours of nature, we look at the colours of nature. Narrating the beauty of life. This we are also forgetting. Donna Violetta, your wedding with Fernando at six in the morning in the church of Santa Maria della Neve is the symbol of your victory, of your victory and of the victory of Fernando against the spirals of history. Tenacity and love were able to bring you back to the origins of your religion and celebrate your wedding in a Catholic ceremony. That church is a symbol. Now your Fernando rests in the beautiful cemetery opposite the church. Narrating the beauty of art in all expressions, not only in the form of dance, but also in the form of painting, architecture, drama, poetry and music. Donna Violetta playing chess with Shostakovich, ladies and gentlemen, it is not a scene invented by me on the narrative level, but it is the historical substance of her meeting with this great musician. It seems to me that Donna Violetta did win the game of chess with the composer. It is unknown, however, if Shostakovich made her win out of sheer courtesy towards a beautiful young lady, a great artist, or whether Violetta actually won. I believe Donna Violetta really won! Art, dance. When a dancer expresses themselves in a ballet, it all seems simple, just like when you see a scene from a film. No one knows what lies behind. If behind a film scene there is a script, studies, directing, music, lights, make-up, costumes – dance is a moving body, a body in motion that has been brought up to move. And that’s a movement of sacrifice, a movement of great rigour. The beauty of love. Here it is, I have tried to narrate beauty in all my books. I narrated the lives of people, not only of Callas, Nureyev, Zarko Prebil, great musicians and choreographers. One of the best compliments that I received was that there is a second book in the book: the index of ballets. This is thanks to Riccardo Piroddi, to whom we must give a round of applause for his research. It is a book in the book, which has not only decongested the writing by avoiding the heaviness of quotations, but it also provides important information to anyone who wants to understand more, without the need for further research.. The centre of my entire narrative is the human being, the beauty of the human being, every human being. It is about the people, and by looking inside them you can see the whole history of the world, the whole of human history one wants to save. Because, if we lose the anchor of salvation for the human being, the world and humanity will be lost. But this will not happen, as long as books are written. As long as people like Violetta Elvin live: a woman of courage, a woman of love, a woman of life and a woman of art. An example for me and for all of you. Thank you!

Violetta Elvin

It’s true that I have loved and love this land, and I will die here. I must apologize to my husband, because I’m late again. In his last years he would say: you have always been precise in your work, and now you make me wait! I hope he will forgive me for this delay in reuniting with him. The Sorrentine beauty starts from the Mount Faito and ends where I’ll rest. In that cemetery, if you go to the far right, you can see Capri, on the left, Salerno, Amalfi and Positano. They are beautiful places. This land is beautiful, famous all over the world. Also its songs. In Russia we all sang the translated “‘O sole mio”. I also sang it. I have been very lucky to be able to live here. Leaving work was difficult, because I loved it, I was a fanatic. I feel sad when I see young people in jobs that make them bored. They always have to try and find something they like. I feel lucky to have had a job as a ballerina, although when the moment came, I decided to quit. I didn’t want to listen to any advice, because if my decision had been wrong, I would not have been able to blame anyone but me. I am really grateful for your wonderful hospitality. It is a great honour and I’m very flattered. Thank you!

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