PIANO DI SORRENTO (OCTOBER, 7th, 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 VINCENZO CALIFANO, VINCENZO IACCARINO, CARMELA CILENTO, PATRIZIA MAROTTA, EMILIA D’ESPOSITO, FLORIANA CAFIERO, PATTY SCHISA, ROSA RUSSO AND FABRIZIO D’ESPOSITO

13-10-2016

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

Vincenzo Califano, Journalist

Good evening. I welcome professor Lauro. Tonight we are presenting the third volume of “The Sorrentine Trilogy”, entitled “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”, dedicated to the Russian dancer Violetta Elvin, widow of Fernando Savarese, who was to be our guest this evening, however the not favourable meteorological conditions did not allow her to be present among us. We send her a warm greeting on this evening dedicated to the work of Lauro, which we will comment with a line-up of speeches. Before giving the floor to Mayor Vincenzo Iaccarino and to Councillor for Identity Carmela Cilento, I welcome our speakers: Patrizia Marotta, Professor of Scientific Subjects, Emilia D’Esposito, Professor of Literary Subjects, Floriana Cafiero and Patty Schisa, ballerinas, dance teachers and choreographers, Rosellina Russo, former President of the Province of Naples, and Fabrizio d’Esposito, Journalist of “Il Fatto Quotidiano”, who will give the concluding speech. I would like to make a brief reflection on the figure of our author and his work as a writer, which I have been following for years, his rich and variegated literature, essays as well as fiction, which make him one of the most important figures of our land, culturally best known and appreciated at national and international level, since his works are now translated into several languages and are presented abroad in the famous tour, which Lauro organizes every time any of his works is published. This is certainly new, as before “The Sorrentine Trilogy” Lauro would abandon his books as soon as they appeared in book stores, and left them to their editorial fate, as he was occupied by many activities, especially his institutional duties at the highest offices of state. Moreover, the curriculum vitae and professional development of the Professor, which is worth to know through his website, shows the reasons for his human, professional, political and literary success, which, however, has never, I say never, distracted him from his land, despite he’s been living in Rome for forty years now. A love for his land, for his origins, for his family, for his many friends, which is renewed whenever he publishes a new work, with the intensity that only a great teacher is able to show, aimed to every time give his best and offer, especially to his countrymen, the appropriate reading of events and historical facts, as well as people and characters that have marked the different stages of his experience of life in Sorrento and the Sorrentine Peninsula. I want to bring to your attention a comment on one of the first books written by Lauro, “Quel film mai girato”, presented in Rome, in October 2002 by the mourned Gian Luigi Rondi, who has passed away recently, and whom we remember with affection. Rondi’s thoughts focus on the key figure of Lauro’s narrative production, Donna Angelina, and here is a significant passage of his review: “When I finished reading the book, apart from the emotion of meeting his mother, who reminded me too closely my own, and my attitude toward her, and my conversations with her and the indications and moral and religious references, and also, and this I have shared for a few painful months, the references to death, I also found myself to recognize there a date, a situation, a political evolution that had never been turned into a chronicle. Because it is a great gift that has not yet been trivialized in this writer, never to write a chronicle. One goes back to a chronicle to make a re-reading, a review, a reinterpretation on a literary and, therefore, also poetic level. In many pages, I found true poetry. In others I found sociology, in others anthropology, again in others continuous source of emotions. Now I’ve learned, I’ve learned in those days, that this book is the result of a film never shot, as the title says, because you would have had to prepare a re-enactment for the television, in person by Donna Angelina, of her life and of the life of people known to her in the course of a century. Certainly her son will be sorry that this film will not be made. As a critic of cinema, a television personality who has lived and continues to live, having participated in many of those events, I can tell you that it is not a bad thing. I can tell you that this story, as it is written and not equipped with cinematic images, or even the more elusive television images, has an ability to penetrate into the reader, with the depth of analysis that film, unfortunately also the best one, misses out on.”  This is the authentic meaning of the narrative work of Lauro, who in his trilogy with “Sorrento The Romance - The conflict between Christianity and Islam in the sixteenth century”, “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”, and the latest work, “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”, pays an extraordinary tribute to stories, to characters, to historical, human, artistic and professional events, whose charm is jealously and exclusively guarded in the pages of these books, which become a journey of exploring places and feelings, passions and violent contradictions, finding in the extraordinary land of Sorrento a common denominating fact of joy, beauty, infinite love for the gift given to us by God, of having been born and being able to live here. These works and, in particular, the trilogy, are the moral and intellectual legacy that Lauro entrusts to his land and its people, so that the knowledge and the culture that emancipate man, making him truly free, can become the ideal tool for promoting and affirming our identity in the world, a legacy that can make us very rich, if only we appreciate it and enhance it. This is the meaning of this meeting, which as always under the careful and accurate direction by Raffaele Lauro is unlike any other, because each of them brings the interpretation of the work of our writer from a different angle. The Municipality of Piano di Sorrento can boast an extraordinary attention to these cultural themes and, in particular, to the value of the book, as over the years one has seen the same municipality publish works of definite value. Lauro’s book enriches our municipal heritage and also becomes a promotional tool for our village and for the Sorrentine land. Thank you!

Vincenzo Iaccarino, Mayor of Piano di Sorrento

Good evening. Thanks to all of you who are here tonight at the presentation of the work of my friend Raffaele Lauro, who, in addition to being the teacher of so many young people in our land, and an important politician, a man of culture, a writer, is, above all, a man who loves his land. I want to emphasize this: the love for ones land and the search for identity, which we all should pursue, and uncovering an active and vibrant part of our land represent the strongest signals of Lauro’s work. “The Sorrentine Trilogy”, started with “Sorrento The Romance - The conflict between Christianity and Islam in the sixteenth century”, a story which connects the historical profile and faith, followed by “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”, which celebrates the singing and poetry of a guests who passed through our land and who fell in love with it so much to compose a song of worldwide success, and finally, “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”, the story of a Russian dancer, Violetta Elvin, who found refuge for her soul in Vico Equense, shows us the importance of our roots and the attachment to our land. Raffaele Lauro traced this path with heart and great skill. Having Professor Lauro here is important, because we have verified, like at other times, his attachment to Piano di Sorrento and that he wanted to present his work here. I thank him and I am grateful for this. Today, among the guests we have dance teachers, who have educated many generations of girls. I thank Patty Schisa and Floriana Cafiero, who have given their souls to this beautiful art, which represents also the story of Violetta Elvin. Now I would like to commemorate a citizen of Piano: the mourned Raffaella Pandolfi. She dedicated her life to dance and gave so much to our young generation. Thank you. Thank you, everyone!

Carmela Cilento, Councillor for Identity

Good evening. Thank you all for accepting our invite. I thank professor Lauro, whom I don’t have to introduce. He is a distinguished academic and a man who held important institutional offices, from prefect to senator. A man who has given us these wonderful books that compose “The Sorrentine Trilogy”. The work which we are presenting this evening, “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”, concludes it an represents along with the other two books a complex hymn to the beauty of our land, and not only that. Also to the human artistic beauty. A hymn, then, to the beauty in the absolute sense and to love. Through the eyes, the heart and the feelings of the protagonists of these books one feels the love that the author has for his homeland, our peninsula. Love has also pervaded the live of Violetta, an amazing and very brave woman. Her friend, Zarko Prebil, says to her in the book: “You are brave, because you’ve abandoned the you for the us”, referring to her abandonment of a life of splendour, celebrity, lights and applause, to choose a more discreet, more intimate and more genuine life. The family life. Violetta’s mother, when she came here to Italy, was captured by the beauty of our land. “This land, which you have chosen as a place to live, resounds of a song of the beauty of life. Your eyes, Violetta, for how much longer will they be able to handle so much wonder?” Violetta replies: “I didn’t get to know it, nor I care to know. Those who live of art and love, they already live in the eternal!” Here is the dichotomy between the immanence of time compared to the eternity of art. These words should be for us an invitation and a warning to love our land and to take care of it with love and dedication. For that, I thank Professor Lauro and I leave the floor to other speakers, who will enrich this evening with their reflections. Thank you.

Patrizia Marotta, Professor of Scientific Subjects

Good evening, everyone! With sincere emotion and a touch of madness, I am here tonight in front of you to share some thoughts inspired by the reading of the novel by Professor Lauro. The excitement comes from the fact that, despite being accustomed to speaking to an attentive and demanding public of students that for thirty years now I have had every day in front of me as a teacher at the Salvemini High School, tonight I face a certainly different occasion. I am facing a figure of the intellectual and cultural calibre far superior to mine. Still, I will try to overcome the shyness to interpret as a teacher the message, one of the many messages, this book offers to the reader. The story of the Russian dancer continuously introduces new insights and new pieces to the unravelling of reasoning, feelings and emotions. One might object: but what is the link between a science teacher and the history of Lady Violetta? Well, there is more than one link. Dance, of course, is an art, but also a science, a tough science, made with method and scientific rigour in the pursuit of perfection of gesture and movement. This alone can lead to a range of considerations, but the main reason why I accepted the invitation to meet with you tonight is mainly the following: the story of the life of Lady Violetta is a didactic story and, therefore, it can be considered interesting for a teacher. The reflections, which I present to you, derive not only from reading the novel, but they were born in the course of the first presentation of this book during the magical evening in Vico Equense. However, they are thoughts of a teacher and of a mum, which gushed from the depth of my soul and formed themselves in conversations with my dearest friends and colleagues. Among them: Professor Auxiliadora Bartolomeo, Professor Cristina Tramontano and Professor Luisa Carrino. They inspired me in various ways and entrusted me with many thoughts on the topics which concern young people, and especially the young women of today. So, taking this topic into consideration, how does it all combine with the personal story of Violetta Elvin? The story of Lady Violetta, as I allow myself to call her, offers clear indications on how to help young people, girls at the most delicate age of the formation of their personality and emotions, and develop them into adults that they will become. The personal story of Lady Violetta is a story of a young woman, who moves forward, moves ahead in the direction of self-affirmation. In the times, in which in the Sorrentine Peninsula girls were since birth destined for a future of wife and mothers, linked to their own family and then to the family created through marriage, lady Violetta was different. She grows up in a family environment which encourages her to study, to enrich culturally and to pursue the incredible natural talent: dance. Thus, Lady Violetta quickly abandons the family nucleus, studies, travels and works, first in Moscow, then abroad, in London and in other great international cities and capitals. Lady Violetta lives through the European events that nowadays are described in history books. But at some point a coincidence, fate, luck lead her to a crossroad: and here she stands in front of a choice, faces a risk. Lady Violetta, now close to the peak of a brilliant career, at ease in the environments of maximum international relevance, happens to visit Vico Equense. And here the unexpected happens. She meets love. A love that must have been shocking, absolute, total, for a man evidently able to make all other men fade and disappear, those men whom she had met along the way and dazzled with her beauty, grace, elegance and intelligence. So, here is the crossroad and the need for making a choice. We could say: the coincidence of meeting and the need of choosing. Lady Violetta with a steady and safe hand changes her course and drops her anchor in the beautiful sea of Vico Equense. Certainly, as it is obvious to all of us, despite the risk incurred, Lady Violetta has never regretted this choice and as a woman, a wife and a mother she was happy with that choice and that decision. That’s the message that I have learned as a mother and as a teacher. The message to be delivered to young people is all here. Lady Violetta renounced the brilliant career, the brilliant life of foreign capitals, frantic trips, constant sophistication of certain circles, royal parties which for sure in those years marked the everyday life of the greatest artists. In a sense, Lady Violetta has chosen the being before the appearance. Lady Violetta has chosen to be a woman, a wife and a mother, rather than exclusively a star. She listened to the voice of her heart, to the call from the depths of her soul. The message to our young people could, therefore, be this: boys, girls, do not be afraid to make sacrifices, choices and, if necessary, also resignations. Sure, meditate, ponder, consider, but then choose what makes you feel good inside. We women, in particular, in this we are infallible. We always feel, without hesitation, who or what makes us feel good, at peace with ourselves. Lady Violetta felt it. And, therefore, we must not be afraid to make the choice, the choice that leads us to inner serenity. Lady Violetta chose to leave London, but also Russia, Moscow and who knows what other prestigious destinations for the small Vico Equense. All that we know now about Lady Violetta is a special case of a discourse that is very dear to us educators (and among educators I include first and foremost the parents). Recently, our school director, Professor Patrizia Fiorentino, wanted to share with us some thoughts on the thought of Edgar Morin and his metaphor of the “The head well made”, which he takes from Montaigne. The challenge, therefore, is to form minds that pose and solve problems.. Our young people must above all be able to solve global problems. Us, the educators, we build knowledge and, faced with a changing and complex reality, young people have to know how to take risks to make choices. Teachers, in particular, are the connection between the various knowledges, pursuing a holistic view of education. I will quote a phrase by Rousseau from “Emilio”: “Living is the job I want to teach him”, I believe that the story of Lady Violetta can greatly help young people to live by offering the analysis of a very special life like hers. Us, the teachers can then share with our pupils many reflections on this great life story. While it is good to educate with emotion, no story is more suited to this than that of Lady Violetta. Here, at this point, as a mother and teacher, attentive and sensitive to the problems of young people, I feel I want to stop, because I start talking a bit too much about choice, life and happiness. And I’d wish there was a philosopher to continue, because I have mentioned concepts that had been at the core of human thought for centuries! I conclude, therefore, by sharing with you my dream. We have a philosopher! While this novel closes a cycle, well, another could open. Professor Lauro, who as a writer has been able to reveal this treasure of a person who chose Vico Equense for love, now as a philosopher reveals to us his personal Weltanschauung, shows us his vision of life, that vision that makes it so wonderfully active, positive, and enthusiastic in many fields of knowledge. In an age when dreams seem faded, feelings are stifled, love for many is consumer goods and happiness is the possession of the latest model of a phone, the story of Lady Violetta to that effect is paradigmatic. An archetype. This is the message that I have understood and which should be forwarded to the young. Professor Lauro wants to open a new cycle, that of sharing his philosophical knowledge, the opening of his huge experiential and human heritage in order to provide food for thought and a glimmer of light in the difficult path that is life. The Professor has been able to bring to light the enormous human heritage secured in the life of Lady Violetta, and retracing its existential stages could also arouse in us questions and very current reflections. Professor Lauro has a rare talent: his sensitivity combined with an immense culture, first with Lucio Dalla and, then with Lady Violetta, has managed to bring to light very private and very human aspects of the personality of these great artists, bringing them closer to us in an incredible way. He managed to break through impenetrable veils, showing us as well the profound humanitas of great figures, who are becoming a bigger and bigger part of all our lives forever. Thank you for listening.

Emilia D’Esposito, Professor of Literary Subjects

Good afternoon and welcome everyone. It is an honour and a great pleasure for me to have been invited by Professor Raffaele Lauro to the presentation of the third and concluding novel of „The Sorrentine Trilogy“. This work, as both preceding novels, represents a hymn to life, joy and love. Love for art, life and the native land. This love is the common thread which connects the three novels. In them, the author uses the eyes, heart, thoughts, words and feelings of the characters, such as Marino Correale, Lucio Dalla, Violetta Elvin. He exalts our peninsula and the Sorrento and Amalfi Coasts, praises feelings and authentic, universal values, endows us with “access keys” such as art, faith, music and dance, to penetrate the secret of existence and rationally probe the unknowable. The plot of “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense” is the main current. The story of Violetta, a Russian dancer who danced in the most important theatres in the world: from the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia to the Royal Ballet in London, and the most prestigious Italian theatres, until the moment when she chose to abandon dance to devote her life to her love and to her family. The story is placed in a historical, political and ideological context, which is being rebuilt with care and with documentary rigour. In this regard, the author demonstrates the extraordinary ability to combine historical accuracy with the freshness of synthesis. Around Violetta’s story, there is a gallery of secondary characters from the world of dance, art, culture, whom the author outlines in a simple way, leaving us readers curious to complete details and reconstruct the complexity with the help of a rich index of over sixty pages, which accompanies the text. If it is true that in a novel the author narrates himself and understands himself, then, metaphorically, this novel can become a mirror where to look and find a part of ourselves, which reflects situations and stimuli for analysis and thought. A didascalic novel, then, which speaks to women, young people, men. A book for women, because it celebrates their greatness, the saving power, the energy, the strength, the courage, the determination, the ability to choose and at the same time to sacrifice what they love. Violetta Elvin is a woman, a woman of courage, freedom-loving and curious of the world, of nature and art, determined and passionate, who throughout her life has fought to achieve the goals she had set for herself: freedom, career and love, the real one, absolute and true, that we are all able to recognize when we experience it. Violetta is a woman who achieved success, as D’Annunzio would say, in building her life as a work of art, and enjoying it in all its facets. In every stage of her life, she has been able to grasps its benefits: in the spring of her youth, in Russia, she forged her body, her soul and her will in order to acquire a level of professionalism that would enable her to escape from the cage of the totalitarian and oppressive regime; in the summer of her artistic maturity she was dancing in the most prestigious theatres in the world, enjoyed successes and triumphs, met and engaged with great choreographers, extraordinary dancers, reached the pinnacle of professional success to leave behind the gilded world of art, to follow her one great love; today, finally, she lives a warm autumn of her age among the tastes, the smells and the colours of this fascinating land, surrounded by people who love her deeply. Violetta’s message to women is to follow their passions, always and anyway. Passions that must be a synthesis of mind and heart, which should encourage to dare, to dream the impossible and make it happen, remembering, however, that it is often not necessary to make real or virtual Pindaric flighs. To conquer happiness, it is enough to know how to appreciate and value what we have within the reach of our sight. “We often look for far goals in love, while we neglect the nearby goals, those at hand, which stand in front of our eyes.” Violetta, by her example, exhorts us to have the courage to always put love in the first place, even if this means having to sacrifice their individuality. “To truly love a person, without compromise, without having to chase the time to share together, it can become a work of art. It takes courage and not all had (or have) the courage to abandon ‘myself’ for ‘us’.” A book for young people, because it is a Bildungsroman, as it follows the story of Violetta from birth to maturity, and enhances the coherence, rigour, openness to dialogue between cultures, artistic sensitivity and unshakable faith that strengthens and determines choices. Young people reading this novel share with Violetta dreams and objectives, which are typical to all generations: professional achievement, love. But, at the same time, they understand that you can achieve these goals only with commitment and self-discipline, the secret to success is perseverance towards the goal and that we should not passively wait for the right moments, but take steps to create them. And that cages don’t prevent flights. With Violetta, at the same age as them at the time of the Stalinism, they will experience the horror of the loss of freedom and liberty, and they will understand that rules are two sides of the same coin, and that, often, the conquest of freedom requires sacrifice and resignation. Violetta follows the mirage of freedom with tenacity and determination towards the democratic England, sacrificing the proximity to her parents. She chooses the freedom to love Fernando and gives up her career. Many pages of this novel show how emotions govern our existence, determine the choices to be taken, they provide us with that inner compass, without which we would only rely on other people’s choices. Young people, therefore, understand that it is important to be guided in their choices by the invisible thread of emotion. “Happiness is like a passing train. If you don’t get on it in time because you’re distracted or think of something else, the train does not come back.” Finally, a book for men, because it speaks of men, of ruthless men like Stalin, of eclectic men like Violetta’s father, of brilliant men such as the many mentioned artists and choreographers, of capricious, excessive, rebellious men such as the dancers, whom Lauro with the magic of his descriptive art shows us twirling in grand theatres. There are powerful men who wield political power to offend and tyrannize, men of culture, men of courage, sensitivity, creativity, rich men, who fill women with jewellery, to fill the gaps created by their selfishness, emptying them of their ability of living. And then there is him. The man, with whom Violetta falls in love. Fernando Savarese, a patient and considerate man, who strikes us for the delicacy of his feelings, for the determination of his commitment to conquer Violetta, for the elegance with which he tiptoes into Violetta’s life, to grow roots in it and to steal her from the theatre. But, attention, he never makes her regret her choice. It is easy, in fact, to love a woman at twenty or thirty years, in the prime of her irrepressible and extraordinary physical beauty. Fernando continued to love her and to hold her hand even when his steps became more uncertain, “proving every day never to betray his trust and his promises of love, affection and tenderness”. “It was a mutual act of creative madness”, writes Lauro. This is the message to learn: it is not enough to be crazy and creative, especially when you choose a woman. Loving her requires that over time a bit of the initial madness remains and we continue to demonstrate such creative ability, to keep her from ever regretting her choice. I conclude with an invitation to read this book with sharpening the senses and focusing on descriptions of the landscapes, the panoramas of our country, of Capri, of Mount Comune, to notice details that had always been in front of our eyes and which we have not yet noticed. To be able locate the beauty of our country, it is important to sharpen ones eye and be guided in this discovery by the writer who was born on our peninsula, an then moved away and perhaps this remote “observation” has refined his ability to grasp its charm. The novel invites us to fall in love with our land, just like Raffaele Lauro is in love with it, to value it, enhance it and respect it but also to fall in love with life, like Donna Violetta, who at the age of 93 still has the ability to dream. Her ultimate dream, a kind of voice of her soul in the summary of her existence, which whispers that the true time lived intensely in life is the time of emotions. Thank you all for your attention and thanks to Raffaele for dedicating this third book in his trilogy to a woman.

Floriana Cafiero, Ballerina, Dance and Choreography Teacher

Good evening, everyone. I was happy and excited to be able to participate in the presentation of this book by Professor Lauro in my native land. I received the invitation from Vincenzo Califano, it was a pleasant moment. We were by the sea, in fact, when he asked me to speak at this event. I have already expressed my enthusiasm to Professor Lauro, as I devoured this book, because it is dedicated to a person known to me. I met Violetta Elvin at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, when I worked there, when she, although she had already left the world of dance, returned quietly and for a brief period as director of the prestigious theatre. I still remember my first meeting with Violetta Elvin. A very elegant woman with a blond bob. A mixture of sweetness and determination.  In the book of Lauro I have managed to seize the many similarities of my life to the life of Violetta. I was also a dancer, first at Teatro di San Carlo and then for thirty years as the soloist ballerina of the Arena di Verona. I got to know all the people who had been a part of Violetta’s artistic life. Maestro Zarko Prebil, who in a difficult time at San Carlo, when it was not possible for us artists to be able to study, chose me to attend the Academy and took me with him to teach me the different variations of the classical repertoire. Similarly, another person familiar to Violetta, whom Lauro did not mention in the novel, but I got to know them precisely in Vico through Violetta, and then also in the artistic world: the famous dancer Vladimir Vasiliev, with whom I shared several performances at the Arena di Verona, such as “Zorba the Greek”, in a beautiful setting. In the book, Violetta, with the voice of Raffaele Lauro, represents the beauty and passion for art. A recommendation received from the teacher of the Bolshoi Theatre, when she makes the farewell step, inviting her to dance in a beautiful setting. It is an extremely important thing. She says to her: “You were like a precious stone, which was rough and then it was polished. A precious stone, however, has no value in itself. It acquires it in the moment in which it is inserted in a diadem, in a ring, in a jewel.” Analogically, a dancer becomes truly valuable when they are inserted in a beautiful setting, with a large orchestra, with a great choreography and, above all, when they manage to live their emotions with the general public. I still remember the words of my teacher, when he accepted me to the professional dance school in Naples: “Look, you’ve decided to study dance, but know that dance is a very hard discipline. The muse of dance, Terpsichore, is a jealous muse!” Who wants to devote themselves to her, they must sacrifice on its altar years of hard work and commitment to achieve results. I can say that sacrifice, discipline and commitment are amply rewarded with immense emotion that you feel when you dance for the audience, bringing life on stage every night. Beyond anything else, I want to send a message to young people: it is very important to have a passion in life, because it is what allows you to overcome even the hardest and most difficult times. Having a passion leads you to live a full spectrum of life. Dance is not just a lover. It’s culture. Dostoevsky said that beauty would save the world. I say that art, and dance in particular, will save the world. Recalling the passion for painting common to me and Violetta, I remember the picture of Matisse, “Dance”, seen in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, in which dancers emerge from the earth and dance in a circle, around the world. Dance has always marked my life. It is my passion and my life mission: to convey this passion to young people. I think I have succeeded with my students, whom I have taught over thirty years, and also with my grandchildren. I have some great grandchildren, who attend the professional school of San Carlo. My greatest joy is to see their eyes lit with the immense and, above all, to see their dedication, their will and their determination to succeed in overcoming any difficulties in order to go to a dance class. Thank you, everyone!

Patty Schisa, Ballerina, Dance and Choreography Teacher

Good evening, everyone. I want to thank very much Professor Raffaele Lauro for writing a book about dance. Unfortunately, in Italy dance is a bit of a Cinderella, as our theatres are mostly lyrical theatres and, therefore, dance is always somewhat sidelined. I have been teaching dance for forty years, in the Sorrentne Peninsula. Many of my students made it in the world of dance. The reason for all of us to feel proud must be one boy from Fontanelle, who has progressed to attend the seventh course at La Scala in Milan. I’ve read the book of Professor Lauro and it was truly a fantastic trip, also because Violetta Elvin is a loved person, also by people in general. Today, I found myself by chance in Vico Equense, where I met some people who told me about her. A Russian woman, who lived in the world of dance, a fantasy world, full of flowers and gifts. In London, for example, where Violetta danced for ten years, the artists are much loved by their fans, unlike in Italy. Today we see Violetta as a simple woman, walking through Vico Equense, beloved by the common people, because she has something different, because dance gives you something different. I always say that dance is an imprint that girls and boys carry with them for life. It’s true, it is full of sacrifices, but the emotions, the goals, the achievement of goals are very important for young people today, even if we are faced with a different reality than two decades ago. Back then young people listened to what we said, received the transmitted passion. Today, unfortunately, there is the Internet, a positive factor on one side, but on the other hand, it brings confusion, it often makes young people disoriented. This is not a positive thing. While reading this book I was also intrigued by everything related to our peninsula. There are so many elements, places, activities, very simple things, which I’ve re-promised myself to go see. Thank you again Professor Lauro for the nice message delivered in favour of dance. My life is dedicated to dance, because, after having danced at the Teatro di San Carlo, I have been dedicated to teaching it for forty years. I will not stop, I will continue forever, because through my students I continue to dance.

Rosa Russo, former President of the Province of Naples

Good evening. I welcome all the present, the authorities and friends. Opening words. This man never stops to amaze me! I am talking about Raffaele Lauro. Professor, Prefect, Senator, writer, a mythological animal. One time I told him that he was a phoenix. Today, I would also add Pegasus, the winged horse. Beings that belong to fantasy, or fantasy belongs to them. But let’s move on to the novel, “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”, which concludes “Te Sorrentine Trilogy”, following “Sorrento The Romance - The conflict between Christianity and Islam in the sixteenth century” and “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”. A hymn of love for our land, the Sorrentine Peninsula. A hymn to a woman, Violetta Elvin. When a writer finishes his work and publishes it, at that time it is no longer his. It belongs to the readers, who make it their own, you dive and fly in the emotions, the imagination and the memories the work itself raises. Thank you, Raffaele, because once again you allowed me through your work to take ownership of my roots, to immerse myself in my memories. You made me discover that my maternal great-grandfather was from Fornacelle, his name was Giuseppe Cinque, a professional “carpenter”, he arrived to Piano di Sorrento to build planking for sail boats at the sites of Marina di Cassano, and bought a house in Casa Lauro, where he settled. Going forward, you reminded me of a cousin of Fernando Savarese, engineer Luigi, son of Salvatore, Antonio’s brother, who married my cousin Rosa Russo and lives in Vico Equense. My best friends, including my sister Pinuccia, Salvatore Ferraro, Ettore Cuomo, Gigino Cioffi, Elsa Starace and many others, all from Vico, are there in the story. I met Léonide Massine, because the guardian of Li Galli islands, a hermit with a long beard, when abandoning the island came to stay at the home of his brother who lived within a walking distance of my house. So, one day he took us to the island where we met the famous ballerino-choreographer. Let’s go back to the novel, which is a hymn of love. Love as a life choice. The love for dance: commitment, sacrifice, dedication, resignation. The love for a man: commitment, sacrifice, dedication, resignation. A strong and brave message in a time when all the core values of our culture no longer exist. A hymn to a woman. The centrality of the female figure, a being who makes choices in life, who generates life, this almost salvific figure is crucial in the book. This evening, mostly women are present around the table. Is it the author’s choice? Certainly! Many women gathered in the richness of their differences, women who made certain choices in their lives, but all out of love. And again, love is sung, narrated, exalted in the description of the beauty of our land. Whether it’s Vico or Sorrento, it is our Peninsula, a wonderful gift from God, our nourishment, because we nourish ourselves with beauty, we live beauty. The love for our land must not only be narrated and celebrated, but must become a reason for protection and defence from any barbarism. And here we are, let’s focus on the protagonist of this novel, Violetta Elvin. Her female experience is intertwined with a historical-political context, conducted with skill by historian-politician Raffaele Lauro, who with rigour placed the protagonist in the history of the twentieth century, starting from Russia, via England, until she reaches the small Vico Equense “that is not even marked on maps”, as Irena, the mother of the protagonist said. Violetta makes important choices. She chooses to study dance, her first choice of all-encompassing love. Then, the second choice, that of liberty, by abandoning her country of origin. Subsequently, the final choice, that of love for Fernando Savarese, that makes her leave dance without hesitation. The author writes: “It was also ready, that love, to make radical choices, not even imagined before then, like resigning from applauses, fame and art despite success, in the belief that a beautiful love story represented itself, for those who lived it, a work of art.” Violetta loves and is loved in return for all her life by her Fernando. But nothing stops a dream to which surrender to hide deep within her soul: to return and take the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre, because dance has taken the domain of her body, mind, emotions and, therefore, of all her choices in life. To this great woman, who came from far away to teach us the true essence of life, I say thank you for the example of courage, strength and the choice of life and love. Thanks to Raffaele for telling us her story with such passion, making it the essence of our soul. Thank you, everyone.      

Fabrizio d’Esposito, Journalist

Thank you. Thank you all. I would like first of all to associate myself with the words of Rosa Russo on teachers and professors, which we heard earlier. I envy their students. They are lucky to have teachers like this. I found myself in front of this book by Lauro, “Dance The Love - A Star in Vico Equense”, without knowing what would be inside it. I was very curious, just as I was curious to read “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”, because for over twenty years I’ve been away from the Sorrentine Peninsula. I read this book about Violetta Elvin during a car trip from Rome to Sorrento. Once again, it showed how little we know of the Sorrentine Peninsula. The biography of Violetta Elvin, summarized and harmonized by Lauro, for me contains many lessons. The first lesson is that of astonishment. I have been a journalist, I grew journalistically around here, but I did not know that Violetta Elvin lived in Vico Equense. There are two shocking images in the book. The first one is the night when Violetta was born. Moscow, the Arbat, which used to be the neighbourhood of artists and intellectuals in Tsarist Russia. Then, the Soviet Union, Lenin’s death. Let’s talk about a little girl, the daughter of Vasily Vasilievich Prokhorov, whose father shortly after her birth at dawn queues to pay homage to the mortal remains of Lenin, not one of the last arrivals from the past century. Let’s freeze these images of Violetta being born and of her father who goes to pay homage to the body of Lenin, and let’s move thirty years forward. We are in the mid-fifties. That little girl, now a woman, sits on a rock on Mount Comune to admire the view of the Sorrentine Peninsula. There, she decides that her life will be right in the Sorrentine Peninsula. There, she makes her choice. This is the lesson of wonder. Violetta Elvin married her first husband, a British diplomat, a Labourist, who worked at the embassy in Moscow, and was able to obtain a passport from Stalin, left the country of her birth, made a long journey and before arriving to London stopped in Leningrad, where she played a game of chess with Dmitri Shostakovich, one of the greatest musicians of the past century. He makes her win, probably to demonstrate his ambiguity, his duplicity to the service of the reason of art. Another scene impressed me as well. When Violetta, still in the Soviet Union, had to move from Uzbekistan to Kuybyshev, and travelled in a small plane devoid of windows, she threw up the fruit she had eaten, and the whole thing ended up on the face of Mikhail Sholokhov, the author of “The languid Don”, awarded the Nobel prize for Literature, one of the greatest Russian writers of the twentieth century. Here is the dimension of the shock and amazement. We have been hosting here in the peninsula for over half a century a woman who has gone through and lived through the major events of the last century. The second lesson, and here I agree with the person who earlier referred to the Internet: is the lesson of silence and style. We are surrounded by the noise of television and social network which, unfortunately, can also cause tragedies to our youngsters. When, for example, I go to the restaurant or I find myself in social situations, I realize that too many people no longer communicate and remain always with their head in their smartphone. Violetta Elvin teaches us the exact opposite, because she decides out of the blue to make a choice in life, not a resignation. I’ve heard the word “resignation” a few times. I’m not convinced about it and I will explain why. The lesson of style is to live in sobriety and peace, especially compared to the turmoil of today. I think this is very important: to disappear and live in silence. Live surrounded by what we love. The third lesson: how to live the present. When I arrived at Punta Scutolo, having lived away for twenty years now, I thought about Violetta’s key words, who said on the beach dancing with wet feet: “This is my sea.” I said this sentence a few times in my life, because, having travelled and seen so many things, I come back here, because this is my sea. Those who preceded me in the speeches this evening, I find them privileged, because they still live here, they didn’t mention the sea. One thing is in fact seeing it every day, as it had happened to me for thirty years. If, however, you do not see it anymore, this sea becomes your sea. When Violetta Elvin says: “This is my sea”, she decides to live here, she fulfils herself in life. From this point of view Lauro’s book has a pedagogical value. The education received by Elvin in those two rooms in Moscow, full of paintings and Italian culture, the education to beauty and talent, was not aimed at achieving success, but to fulfil her life. Success and fame are sterile, they pass. We are unable to live in the present. That’s why I stopped in Punta Scutolo to contemplate the sea. We live always in a hurry. Violetta Elvin, with the choice of leaving dance, not resigning from dance, fulfils herself in life, fulfils that education that her father had given her as a child. The final lesson. There are still people in the world who want to raise walls. We still look at strangers with suspicion. Violetta’s lesson is to be a citizen of the world. She is a Russian, who matures in England and then chooses to fulfil her life in Italy, for love. We have to keep this in mind too. It would have to make a long reflection, but I only want to mention one of the most beautiful dialogues of the book, the one with Maria Callas. Violetta and Callas find themselves at the alla Scala in Milan and speak of the strength of will and force of destiny. What’s will in our lives and what’s destiny. Violetta recognizes the important role of fate, calling it divine providence. Here I come to the conclusion. A few words on the figure and work of Professor Lauro. The first notation is that Lauro is the only living writer to have the merit of bringing out the Sorrentine Peninsula from the dimension of provincial narrative. It has a universal dimension. I am really grateful to him for this. If I were in the place of the municipal administrators of coastal villages, I would give Lauro a mandate to draw up a sort of an encyclopaedia of the Sorrentine Peninsula. His works represent a very high promotional tool, not only in terms of tourism. The link between the Sorrentine Peninsula and history is very old, not just because Lauro reminded us with his trilogy about the invasion of the Saracens in 1558, the Isis of the time. There is also a thread that unites Violetta Elvin and Lucio Dalla, the star of the second novel in the trilogy, “Caruso The Song - Lucio Dalla and Sorrento”: the beauty of Li Galli, of these places, the Siren Land, a quote from Ulysses. Also. The Kingdom of Italy did not end with the turn of Salerno, when Togliatti agreed to enter the first De Gasperi government. The republican Italy was born in Sorrento because comrade Ercoli, or Togliatti, having returned from the Soviet Union in 1943, had his first meeting with Benedetto Croce here in Sorrento, in Villa Triton. The first government of Italy, therefore, was formed precisely in Sorrento. Even in recent history, Sorrento finds itself in the centre of the first republic events. Gianfranco Fini was elected secretary of the MSI during the congress of Sorrento in 1987. The last major current of the Christian Democrats, the Gulf Stream, was baptised in Sorrento. As you can see, the link between history, politics and this land is very deep. Then, there are the processions of the Holy Week. I’d give to Professor Lauro also the task of the Super-councillor for Culture of the Sorrentine Peninsula, because his books should be translated and shipped around the world. They are an amazing hallmark of this land. They represent the new Grand Tour. Thank you for your attention.

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