All posts by mariecrider

I am happily retired. As a career I found myself in the business end of education. Spent most of my working life researching, developing and implementing a broad spectrum of local, state and national education programs. Other than some travel, my focus now is Il Volo and the Flight Crew. How lucky am I to have found such joy? I'm having the time of my life! Oh, and I'll be a vegetarian when bacon grows on trees.

Ave Maria and the Duchess

Well, America now has a real live Duchess.   What a beautiful wedding!  What outstanding hats!  Besides the dress (!) and that Tiara (also a !) was some magnificent music the last number, performed by Cellist Sheku Kanneth-Mason and the orchestra, was “Ave Maria.”  That, of course, reminded me of when our Guys sang the hymn in 2014 at the Senate Christmas Concert.  Remember?  We wish Harry and Meghan (The Duke and Duchess of Sussex) lots of love and laughter.   We wish our Guys the same.  Here is what I was dreaming during that hymn…

MAGNIFICA!

How about an even more recent Ave Maria?  “Ave Maria, Mater Misericordiae”…Appropriately performed at the London Royal Albert Hall on May 23, 2017.

Again, Magnifica…Always Magnifica!

~Marie

c’era una volta….

Italia!  What a marvelous culture and so much older than my America.

In Italy they recognize, celebrate and preserve their national heritage and traditions with honor, pride and courage.

Here, published in L’italo-Americano, is one of those traditions.

~Marie

Sicily’s storytelling traditions

Mimmo Cuticchio performer of Il Cunto, a traditional form of Sicilian storytelling

Since the first days of language, humans have been passing on stories. From the sea shanties of Cornwall to the shadow puppetry of China, from the creation tales of Hula dancing to the drama of Caribbean calypso. Sicily is no different: its puppetry, dating back to Medieval times, is famous the world over for  telling tales of knights in battle. But there’s another story too, the tradition of cuntu, dating back to Greek theatre and based on both sung verse and spoken prose. To discover its compelling history we have to go back to the ancient world.

Many modern cultures and languages can trace their origins to ancient ancestors, typically reaching back across decades, centuries and even millennia. European languages from Spanish to Portuguese, Romanian to English, for example, all owe a large debt of gratitude to the ancient Romans. Vulgar Latin forms the basis for several languages spoken by a sizeable proportion of the world’s population, not least of course Italians inhabiting the beautiful Mediterranean peninsula and beyond.

Within some circles there is even a view that Sicilian, rather than being simply another dialect of Italian, was actually the first to have developed from ancient Latin. And certainly there are persuasive similarities that seem to suggest that words in use today evolved from Latin through Sicilian to the Tuscan that would go on to become the national language.

But whilst the language of this spectacular island obviously springs from ancient Roman roots, it also draws considerably upon the tongues of the many people who came as occupiers and conquerors, namely the Carthaginians, Arabs, French, Spanish and, most notably, the ancient Greeks.

Mimmo Cuticchio has reinvigorated this noble art through the improvisation of daily tales.

Evidence of the Hellenic Republic’s presence percolates throughout the island. From the sublime Doric temple filled landscape of southern Sicily, to the ancient theatre in Taormina on the eastern coast. Add in the language of poets and an alphabet that persisted through to the Middle Ages and it’ s easy to see how the Greek love of language and theatre evolved into the islanders’ unique storytelling tradition of cuntu.

The word cuntu is, simply enough, defined as an account, statement or novella. For locals its true cultural meaning, however, goes much deeper, conjuring up thoughts of fables, fairy tales and fantastic  anecdotes of chivalrous adventure. Sometimes puppets are used – they’re a significant part of Sicilian folklore – but for the most part cuntu is the ageless, almost extinct art of spoken word street storytelling.

Long before the age of cinema, television and social media, Sicilian cuntisti made their livelihoods breathing life into epic tales for the amusement of their audiences. But unlike classic theatre that demands a platform, stage or playhouse to host its sagas, cuntu and cuntisti need little more than a street corner, park or town square to accommodate their stories. The staging needs no painted scenery, no costumes, no smoke or mirrors and no props, because cuntu storytellers conjure everything in the minds of the audience with the pure and humble power of the spoken word.

Before they could weave their words, worlds and warriors into epic tales Sicilian cuntisti would study the art form as apprentices. Skills were passed down from father to son, specialist to student, often over the course of a youngster’s childhood or early teens, before they made their debut as adults. Pupils didn’t just need to learn the stories however, they needed to learn the art of delivery to convey every emotion from envy to desire, from betrayal to lust. They needed to learn the parts and the characters, the twists and turns they were to take and the nuances necessary to breathe life into each one, opening a  window into another world.

Cuntisti, crucially, also needed to learn to “feel” the breath of their characters, as well as that of their  audience. They told tales whilst others listened with baited breath. They used pauses and inhalations to inspire gasps and gulps, as they put flesh and bone to their characters. And they employed spoken words to develop a rhythm, driving the pace to simultaneously create a personal and collective vision. 

 It’s storytelling at its best. And what stories they told.

Classic cuntu accounts often drew on tales of saints, soldiers and bandits, especially the stories of the Paladins of France. Sometimes known as the 12 peers, the paladins were warriors of Charlemagne’s Dark Age court representing Christian valor against Saracen hoards. And although their exploits were the largely fictional creations of imaginative 8th century writers, they drew together elements of several theatrical and literary traditions to create chivalrous heroes and romantic leads that still play out in modern culture today.

Cuntisti would tell of Orlando, Charlemagne’s nephew and chief hero amongst the paladins. Or recount the exploits of Oliver, Orlando’s rival. They breathed life into Ganelon, the traitor who would later appear in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno. And each of the twelve men inspired stories of gallant skirmishes and victorious romance that still resonate today.

For the ordinary populace, the arrival of the cuntisti on the streets of their town was a special event. Cuntu kept legends alive, inspiring generation after generation with suspense, battle and redemption. And they were as important to Sicilian culture as Shakespeare was to the British and Dante was to Florentines.

Today, modern cuntu adaptations are reworking ancient stories weaving contemporary living material into Greek and Saracen legends to revive this almost extinct art form. Storytellers such as Alessio Di Modica, Enzo Mancuso and Mimmo Cuticchio have reinvigorated this noble art through the improvisation of daily tales. And now, this ancient yet modern talent is reaching a new audience via the virtual streets and piazze of YouTube and social media.

So as the days shorten, the nights draw in and thoughts turn to TV box sets or binge watching the latest Netflix series, remember there is another choice. The cuntisti of Sicily now stand on every street corner of the world via the wonder of the internet, and they have a long tradition of story-telling that will fascinate and entertain just as it has for centuries. The story starts as it always has, with the words that every child recognizes: c’era una volta….once upon a time.

***

 

 

 

 

Answers to yesterday’s “So ya think ya know ’em”

So who’s tied to who (whom…whatever)?  Can you make the matches?

G = Gianluca
I = Ignazio
P = Piero
A = Connects to ALL of the above
N = Connects to NONE of the above

Connects with….
(you get extra credit if you also know the names)

Answers:

__1.

1.  A/I – It’s Loretta!  One point for “All”.  Two points for “Ignazio”.
*

__2.

2.  PPiero’s Brother, Francesco Barone.
*

__3.

3.  GGianluca’s Grandfather, Ernesto.  (Jane and I met him in Montepagano.)
*

__4.

4.   N – Justin Bieber.  Just…No.
*

__5.

5.  G – Martina, Gianluca’s gal.
*

__6.

6.  A – Myron Heaton.  Is there another Fan Fare in our future?
*

__7.

7.  IIgnazio’s Mom, Caterina Boschetto.
*

__8.

8.  AMichele Torpedine, Manager, mentor, friend.
*

__9.

9.  IFranz, Ignazio’s dog. (You’re a good boy.  Yes you are.)
*

__10.

10.  AGiampiero Grani.  Il Volo’s Pianist, arranger, friend.
*

__11.

11.  A/P – Our Mary Bohling.  Take partial credit if you said All.  One point if you said Piero.
*

__12.

12.  PPiero’s Dad, Gaetano Barone.
*

__13.

13.  I Ignazio’s sister, Nina.  (Yep, Jane and I met her too).
*

__14.

14.  N Luciano Pavarotti.  One regret of the Guys is that they never met him.  He died in 2007.  The Boys were 12, 13 and 14 then.  They certainly would have won his heart too.
*

__15.

15. GGian’s mom, Eleanora Ginoble.
*

__16.

16.   AFabio Ingrassia, artist and friend.  Fabio drew the Boys picture on stage during several 2016 concerts.
*

Scoring:

14+ correct – You can move in with any of them.  They won’t notice you’re not family.

11- 13 – You can move in but they will wonder why you’re there.

8 – 10 – You can live next door.

5 – 7 – You can buy pizza from Nina.

3 – 4 – Just stay in your own country, at home, in your room.

0 – 2 – you are on the wrong website.

Well, How’d ya do?
~Marie

 

So, ya think ya know ’em?

So who’s tied to who (whom…whatever)?  Can you make the matches?

G = Gianluca
I = Ignazio
P = Piero
A = Connects to ALL of the above
N = Connects to NONE of the above

Connects with….
(you get extra credit if you also know the names)

__1.
__2.

 

__3.

 

__4.

 

__5.

 

__6.

 

__7.

 

__8.

 

__9.

 

__10.

 

__11.

 

__12.

 

__13.

 

__14.

 

__15.

 

__16.

 

Answers tomorrow!
~Marie

Warm Italian Memories

Are we all proud Italians?  A smidgen of ancestry will work or just a wannabe is good enough. Is that desire because of our Guys?  I think so.

On January 3rd Jane posted some Italian fluff. I don’t know if everyone saw it or Laura’s comment…

“Love their acappella and Piero’s laugh. Thanks very much for those fun videos. I suddenly got a little ‘misty’ hearing Ignazio speaking at one point, He said something that sounded just like my paternal grandfather when he’d say something in his native language. (Southern Italian (Campania region). (Paternal grandmother – northern Italian (Piedmont region). Don’t know if I mis-spelled the names of those areas. 🙂 They each always spoke in English, but on occasion, if translating something into Italian for us, Grandpa would often correct Grandma’s Italian translation. It often would escalate into an argument between them which was funny. It was a case of dialect differences apparently, so she really wasn’t ‘wrong’! Poor Grandma. 😂 “Barone” happens to be a family name on her side, though not her own last name before she (Laura Marie) married him (Enrico). I’m sure they would love Il Volo! Concerning ancestral DNA searches, I think it’s fascinating, but. personally, feel leery of doing that online, for a couple of reasons. Marie, I do think it’s very cool, though, that your sisters gave you your DNA results for your birthday present. ( It would, indeed, be awesome if you’re related to Daniela’s Beppe).😊 I think if we go back far enough, we all probably do share common ancestors and so we are all related, lol…🌲💕”

~~Laura

I’m sure we are all related too, Laura.  What warm Italian memories!  Anyone want to share one?  I’ll add mine later in the comments.

~Marie