Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957), the most celebrated conductor in history, was also admired for his opposition to Fascism and Nazism. His clashes with Mussolini and Hitler and his trips to Palestine to conduct an orchestra made up of Jewish refugees from Europe showed the world that artists can raise their voices against totalitarianism. During World War II he lived in exile in the United States, giving benefit concerts to further the war effort, and helping other musicians immigrate and find work.
This program is based mainly on the hundreds of passionate letters that Toscanini wrote to his lover Ada Mainardi during the 1930’s, in which he discussed political, artistic, and personal matters. The program also draws upon his letters to Mussolini, Hitler, and Roosevelt. All reveal the thoughts of an artist who had the courage to say no to the Fascist regimes.
This theatrical concert features music by composers such as Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Fano, younger contemporaries of Toscanini who were forced to flee Italy, as well as works by Verdi. These works are interwoven with an audio collage of the Italian Racial Laws of 1938 and Toscanini’s rehearsals of Aida.
Written by Eve Wolf
Directed by Donald T. Sanders
Set & Costumes by Vanessa James
Lighting by Judith M. Daitsman
Audio Design by Jessica Paz
January 21, 2009
The Italian Academy at Columbia U.
1161 Amsterdam Ave., NY, NY