IT and US: America, the musical

Feb 06, 2015 1012

WTI Magazine #53    2015 February, 6
Author : Simone Sibillano      Translation by:


The curtains rise and the mazurka of grandpa Bartolomeo accompanies a dance that enters straight into our souls. Over the notes the characters show up and everyone immediately understand their joys, sorrows, worries and expectations: feelings that many Italians of the early twentieth century would very well express. Forced to a life without the hope to see a better future, about 9 millions of them left Italy in those years to find fortune in many other countries, including America.

With our show we want to tell the courage and the strength of our grandparents, we want to bring to the stage their great hope, retracing the long journey they were forced to face, the arrival at Ellis Island, and finally their long-awaited new lives in America. On our ship we show a meeting of lives, each with a story to tell. Important issues such as disability and death, but also brotherhood, unity and attachment to traditions are part of a web of emotions, music and scenarios that warms the heart.

I play Bartolomeo Cataldo: musician, emigrant (the very grandfather of Guido Cataldo, composer of the music of the show) that actually set off for the United States in 1912. He was the one to inspire our show, and in our history he is a component of the group we describe. Our emigrants are supported by the figure of Mother Cabrini: during the great exodus, the protector of emigrants did very much to help people who left their homeland, and her character in the show combines each character's hope.

It all started when, more than 20 years ago, Guido Cataldo found among old family papers the scores of "Seduzione" (Seduction), his grandfather Bartolomeo's mazurka. I still cannot imagine the emotion he felt playing it for the first time. In that moment, music replaced words and talked to Guido about a distant time and a grandfather he never met, and still so much closer, thanks to that music. Guido then decided to tell the story of his grandfather indirectly narrating the great emigration: a phenomenon that, unfortunately, nowadays is again very topical.

This was done interpreting with music the attachment to the land, to the hard work in the fields, to the traditional feasts, to the scent, color and life back then. He gradually composed all the music and when I heard it for the first time, I could immediately imagine the characters. I wrote down what I saw and, working with actors, we gave life to their stories, as they developed more and more. So, step by step were born Tommaso, Maria, Rosa, Santo and all the others, who now I feel as a little part of me.

Their stories live whenever the curtains of "America" open: you can feel their energy when you see them behind the backstage, and it is their energy that every time gives away to an attentive and excited audience and to an exceptional cast an intimate, elegant and deep experience.

In the story you can smell the land, the sea breeze and a great need to not surrender, that culminates with the great American dream. Miss Liberty welcomed immigrants shortly before landing at Ellis Island, the land of dreams.

Our biggest dream is to land there, as they did, and to bring our show to the United States, to tell with an Italian spirit and passion our history, your history. The history of the Italians. We, the italians.

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