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Va Pensiero
July 22, 2011 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Riccardo Muti was conducting Nabucco at the Opera di Roma, until -to his delight- he was forced to interrupt the performance by pressure from the crowd.

As part of the massive celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy in 2011, the Opera was packed to the rafters to see Giuseppe Verdi's famous work. A political opera, it deals with the enslavement of Jews in Babylon. Its famous "Va Pensiero" chorus is the song of oppressed slaves, and symbolises the fight for freedom for many Italians, who struggled under the Habsburg empire in the 1860s and has become Italy's unofficial anthem. Rome's mayor, Gianni Alemanno, took the stage before the start and spoke passionately against the budget cuts to the arts and culture the central government had done, in essence railing against his own party and political allegiances, and setting the tone for a very special evening.

The intensity was palpable and the audience was rapt. When the Va Pensiero chorus came, "O my country, so lovely and so lost", the cries of "Encore!" and "Viva Italia!" began to sound. By the time it finished, the roar of the crowd was immense.

Muti had allowed an Encore only once in his career, at La Scala in 1986, and he was not likely to do it again unless the occasion really deserved it, but the crowd had touched him deeply. He turned around and spoke: “Yes, I agree, long live Italy, but...I'm not 30 anymore, I've lived my life and travelled the world, and it pains me to see what is happening to our country. So, I will accede to your request for an Encore, not only for the patriotism I feel, but because as the chorus was singing, I thought that if we allow this murdering of the culture on which our history was built, then it truly will be “lovely and lost”.....Let us now give this chorus a special meaning. We are home, at the theatre of Rome, let us all join together and sing.”

And so they did.

My sincere apologies to any Italians if I have misinterpreted or mistranslated any part of this. I welcome any and all corrections.
posted by Cobalt (61 comments total) 93 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, that shot of everybody standing up in the boxes.
posted by penduluum at 11:38 AM on July 22, 2011


Awesome. Just awesome. I wish I had been there.
posted by The World Famous at 11:49 AM on July 22, 2011


Maybe put the non-Wiki link above the fold?
posted by gottabefunky at 11:49 AM on July 22, 2011


There is a growing desire among the Italian people to replace our admittedly kinda silly national anthem (YT) with the Va' Pensiero which this instance exemplifies nicely.

On the other hand, 150 years? Only for some Italians. Not me. All four of my grandparents were born citizens of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Trentino Alto-Adige and Trieste were not annexed until after the end of WWI and fascism then promptly proceeded to erase our cultural history as border regions. Not to fault your wonderful post, but I've been bitter about this all year.
posted by lydhre at 11:51 AM on July 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Very moving. Thank you.
posted by serazin at 12:09 PM on July 22, 2011


There is a growing desire among the Italian people to replace our admittedly kinda silly national anthem (YT) with the Va' Pensiero which this instance exemplifies nicely.

And people complain that the United States' national anthem is hard to sing...
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 12:14 PM on July 22, 2011


That was... beautiful. Just beautiful. Thank you.
posted by brand-gnu at 12:16 PM on July 22, 2011


Amazing. If only Americans would come together like that.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 12:16 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh my god, that was magnificent. I sang Va Pensiero years and years ago in a choral group, and it is one of my favorite pieces. Seeing it in this setting was so inspiring. Thank you for posting this.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:19 PM on July 22, 2011


Well, I wouldn't call it hard to sing, per se, just... chipper. And patently untrue, as it boasts that Victory was created a slave to Rome and we all know how the past couple millennia have turned out in that regard.
posted by lydhre at 12:19 PM on July 22, 2011


Thank you for this. It was beautiful and yet so sad, because you know if something like this happened here in the US, it is entirely possible that this would somehow become a case of elite liberals hating on the country and "real Americans."
posted by ltracey at 12:20 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


What is the story with the paper that falls from the balconies?
posted by serazin at 12:22 PM on July 22, 2011


Bravo a tutti gli italiani! I am of Italy, and America. This brought me to tears. What a great country, and how much Italy, like America, need moments of inspiration and true collective passion, like this one. Cobalt, thank you!
posted by Vibrissae at 12:23 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very touching yet I cannot help wonder how many in the audience voted for Circus Berlusconi in the first place.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:25 PM on July 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ever get the feeling that the entire world has been lulled into a stupor while an invisible enemy is passively decimating the world's culture and resources for short term profits and the enrichment of a few? Corporations have become the new kingdoms, it's long past time for us all to rise up and fight.
posted by any major dude at 12:27 PM on July 22, 2011 [24 favorites]


I cried.

And I'm not even Italian.
posted by dawdle at 12:29 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Very touching yet I cannot help wonder how many in the audience voted for Circus Berlusconi in the first place.

And what of it? They too will have to live without the opera, and the theater, and the museums. I know many people who voted for Bush in my midwestern home town who are no less unemployed for it now.

If we keep shoving our differences back in everyone's faces at every opportunity - this is how political attitudes harden, and solutions recede ever further over the horizon.
posted by rkent at 12:31 PM on July 22, 2011 [21 favorites]


Maybe put the non-Wiki link above the fold?

I disagree. I wouldn't have gotten to read the full backstory if the link had been above the fold.

OP, thanks for posting this. But, what was the stuff he said after your translation ends, where the audience laughed?
posted by TrishaLynn at 12:48 PM on July 22, 2011


What is the story with the paper that falls from the balconies?

It was protests against the cuts - seems they had phrases like "Italy rise up in defense of cultural heritage", about Italian identity, others with "Long live President Napolitano"* or "Muti for Senator for life".

(*President Napolitano is invoked very hopefully as a theoretical saviour every time the Berlusconi government try to pass one of their horrid laws "ad personam" like to stop or avoid trials or for financial gain, because the President has to sign laws for final approval and so theoretically could put a stop to some indecencies, but of course the government get around that by passing decrees, and a President's power is limited anyway -- also Napolitano is from the left, he's old enough to have been a member of the Italian Communist Party already in the fifties, so as far as institutional figures go he is looked upon as the anti-Berlusconi figure, even if this is more theoretical than anything, unfortunately. He's also a very cool well-spoken well-educated man, a political figure from another era of Italian politics, one of the last ones, maybe the very last. )
posted by bitteschoen at 1:00 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


And what of it? They too will have to live without the opera, and the theater, and the museums.

That's right, let's forget how these people came to power and hope that things will be different next time the Italians vote populists into office.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:01 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Astonishing.
posted by Jofus at 1:01 PM on July 22, 2011


Opera lovers cheer for forcing those who don't love the opera to pay for it. What progressives.
posted by MattD at 1:43 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's a very good translation Cobalt, I'll complement it with this:

Yes, I concur on "Viva l'Italia"..only [pause] I am not thirty years old, and so I have lived my life..but I am very.., as an Italian that travels around the world, but what is happening is paining me. So, If I accede to your request for an Encore, I will do that not only and not primarily for patriotic reasons, but because this evening, as the chorus was singing "Oh country of mine, so beautiful and so lost", I tought that if we kill the culture on which the italian history is founded, then our country will really be "beautiful and lost" [applause]..so as we are in a quite italian environment.. and as Muti very often and for many years has spoken to the deaf..I would like...let's make an exception, we are at home in the theater of the Capitol City, as the chorous sang it marvellously and the orchestra played along in an excellent fashion, if you want to join in, we will do it all togheter. [applause]

Indeed.
posted by elpapacito at 1:44 PM on July 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


And to commemorate Montanelli's view of italian culture, I'll add this rough translation of an article (full lenght can be found here in italian language)


An article by Indro Montanelli, written around the half of the '50es, to his american colleague Edmund Stevens.

By forbidding Italians to sins, they drop into Vice.

Dear Edmund, your recalling the scandals that have been cheering up the italian life for some years is, at least, superfluous. Indeed, your fellow countryman are perfectly informed only about, and competently talk about Montanga, Anna Maria Caglio, Lollobrigida and Sofia Loren.They know everything about them: far more than I do, as I know almost nothing. They just ignore one detail: these scandals, in our country, are an absolute novelity and absolutely don't represent its custom habits.And that's exactly the reason why they make a loke of noise. Italy isn't a morally rigorous country. On the contrary, it's an indulgent country, in which Sin roams around freely and is welcomed also by the most virtuous families.Vice isn't. And the Montagna affaire has outraged italians, a nation of sinners, indeed, but a strong and robust one. In order to better explain to you the moral climate in which we, average italians, were educated, I'll tell you about a litte anecdote regarding my family.

On the grave of my grandfather, that was the major of a small town in Tuscany, Fucecchio, one can find an epitaph which, in accordance with our customs, remembers all his virtues and that, among other things, introduces him as a "paragon of domestic virtues". Indeed he was a good husband for his one and only wife and an excellent father for his seven children. And he was considered as a "paragon" not because he never yelded to the temptation of having a few affairs, but rather because nobody ever got to know with who he did have some. Only after his passing it was discovered that he has had am affair with one of these that presently are called "call-girls" and that are regularly persecuted by the demochristian police. She was a "cucitrice in bianco", that is a small tailor that, after having met my granfather, left Fucecchio and bought a small shop in Empoli with the money of his new friend. That was the discreet and respectable house that was visited, less frequently as his age increased, by the paragon of domestic virtues. My granfather was a laic, or rather he was a mason.

He didn't like priests roaming around his house, but he was glad that his wife and childrens went to mass every sunday. He always has sent a greeting card and a two capons to the Bishop for Christmas, and if they met on the street, he was the first to lift his hat, but he never has kissed his ring. And masonic and laic as well was his concept of virtue, that he didn't coinceive as a prejudicial refusal of sin, but as the obligation to keep it in its proper "place", that was the discreet and respectable house in Empoli, far away from the house in which his wife and children lived.

You are American, dear Edmund, and as such, even if you don't know and you don't want to know it you have a puritan background that may fill you with outrage in getting to know that such an husband has appeared, to the eyes of his fellow citizens, as a "paragon of domestic virtues". But for us, both catholic and laic italians, who have a concept of morality that is rather skeptic and human, this coniuugal life practices represents an "optimum" and a "paragon", as written on the epitaph.

We probably are wrong, or rather we certainly are, in measuring us against Absolute Virtue. But in the thousand years old italian lifestyle, Absolutes have been sent to permanent retirement many centuries ago. We are satisfied with the Relative. And in the context of Relative a morality such as my granfather's one set an example.

Later the demochristians came, with a clearical and confessional kind of morality. They have closed brothels. They have persecuted call-girls. They are represented by Ministers and Members of Parliament who have acid and virtuous wifes andendless childrens, educated by the priests to fear the inferno. They have forbidden displaing the "Venere" by Botticelli as she shows her "privates". And the end result of this moralistic campaign are the Montagna,
Capocotta affairs, the incresing use of cocaine and the substituting Venere's privates with Sofia's and Gina's. By forbidding Italians to sins, they drop into Vice.

[omissis, a rather long one]

As I am my grandfather's nephew, as you may understand, I don't quite like puritanism. I envy this trait of your Country, but I don't wish it to be transfered to mine. Attempting to export it to a population that doesn't intrisically support it, as the demochristians are attempting to do, is useless.Purtianism is well placed in America, it's America true strenght. Surely its excesses can be deprecated and moderated. Yet it is the soul and in the blood of Americans, and it's the foundation of their history. In our country, it turns into an huge lie, a colossal hypocrisy, and only explains the Capotoctta and Marchese di Montagna affairs, the farce of the Botticelli's Venere and all the indecent pimples in which the blood of a nation, poisoned by a vestry morality that doesn't go along its nature, explodes.
posted by elpapacito at 1:48 PM on July 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


The last thing he says, that makes the audience laugh, is 'A tempo, pero'. He's invited the audience to sing along, but they have to keep up with the chorus.

This brought tears to my eyes as well. Thank you.
posted by bq at 2:02 PM on July 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sorry if this sounds harsh, but.

Only for some Italians. Not me. All four of my grandparents were born citizens of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Trentino Alto-Adige and Trieste were not annexed until after the end of WWI and fascism then promptly proceeded to erase our cultural history as border regions. Not to fault your wonderful post, but I've been bitter about this all year.

All four of my grandparents were born citizens of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
And any of them were Italian-speaking, ruled over by a German-speaking empire they tried to overthrow, risking their life? No, you say?
Because, you see, this is exactly the reason Italy eventually got Trento (it only claimed Trento, NOT the rest of the SudTirol which it got because just the Italian-speaking valleys were deemed not defensible in a war) and Trieste - the majority of people there WANTED to join Italy, and were unhappy being ruled from Vienna (No apologies of fascism's destruction of German language heritage here, I just feel that it should be understood why it happened - it happened because significant Italian minorities in cities that had spoken Italian for centuries had become a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

Irredentismo (the movement to "free" the lands of Italians speakers still ruled by non-Italian speakers) need a much better post than the one I can make now, after 3 glasses of wine BUT my point is that Italians did what every European country has been doing since 1648 - strengthening their borders by ensuring that people of a trusted language/ethnicity/artificial national allegiance man the key power posts in border areas. Not justifying, understanding that standards in the 1920s are not those of the 2010s..

Only for some Italians. Not me.[...] fascism then promptly proceeded to erase our cultural history as border regions.
Just curious, why do you define yourself Italian then? Were you born in Italy? Is Italian your first language? Do you live t/here? Or are you posting from somewhere else? I am not trying in any way to lessen your feelings, just trying to understand how removed you are/may be from Europe/Italy/Rome (where this took place) and why you feel that way.

You've been bitter, you say, all year. Presumable it's about the celebrations for the 150 anniversary. What have you been bitter about? That a celebration of being Italian did not include those speaking German, Slovenian, Rumentsch? And do you care about the other (approx.) ten languages that Italy recognises as minority languages such as Albanian, Greek, French, Croatian, Occitan (BTW, unless you have a quote, I am told this is the highest number of minority languages in one state in Europe)? Or is it all about your four grandparents? Were they all opposed to an united Italy, BTW? Is that why (maybe) you don't live there anymore? Just wondering.

So.
Only for some Italians. ?
No, for ALL the people who deem themselves Italians (which does not mean forgetting or justifying the awful behaviour of the Fascist regime, or finding "excuses" for the differently awful but equally revolting Berlusconi government), it is 150 years since their country was officially created. Like it or not, leave it or not, this country was created in 1861. Did innocent people suffer? Undoubtedly. Is it a reason not to celebrate? No. Or we would not be celebrating anything, anything at all (and certainly not State celebrations).

But, hey, good thing you did not want to "fault this post". G*d only know what you would have written if you had wanted to....
posted by MessageInABottle at 2:14 PM on July 22, 2011


I have belted out "Va pensiero" at full volume (with the windows rolled up tightly to spare the pedestrians) in my car a few times, when nostalgic for my "patria si bella e perduta."
posted by francesca too at 2:22 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


MattD, I've been turning your statement over in my head for five minutes, and I still can't make sense of it. Are you trying to suggest that the entry fee to opera, museums, and art galleries be set exactly to what the market will bear? That every form of artistic expression must gain ownership by a corporate entity or die?

We're not talking about some weary cultural gulag grinding out Politburo-approved paintings of happy workers in the fields. Modern progressivism recognizes government as a defender of rights and expression, artistic and otherwise. It also recognizes that individuals can contribute to a goal that may not be in their personal self-interest, but which adds to the greater good of the whole.

You can see what happens when cultural expression falls to the lowest common denominator: just turn on your television.

A government that promotes greater beauty and diversity, that subsidizes artistic expression at the cost of fractions of a penny of each tax dollar, is not something that should be dismissed with a sneer.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 2:22 PM on July 22, 2011 [16 favorites]


Can he swing by and do the same thing for his old gig in Philadelphia? PLEASE?
posted by whuppy at 2:32 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not me. All four of my grandparents were born citizens of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Trentino Alto-Adige and Trieste were not annexed until after the end of WWI and fascism then promptly proceeded to erase our cultural history as border regions.

All four of my grandparents and both my parents were born citizen of the Austro-Hungarian empire, one set from Trentino, the other set from Alto-Adige. I don't recall any of them wanting to go back under Austria, especially after the Nazi era.
posted by francesca too at 2:34 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was astonishing and moving. Thank you, Cobalt.
posted by Errant at 2:35 PM on July 22, 2011


Ah, I had seen this pop up on an Italian friend's FB wall a little while ago and quite loved it. That view of pieces of paper fluttering down from the balcony was really stunning.

BTW, is it true that Berlusconi was in attendance for the event?
posted by LMGM at 2:44 PM on July 22, 2011


Opera lovers cheer for forcing those who don't love the opera to pay for it. What progressives.

So, the government should only help fund things that everybody likes. I'm not particularly fond of public pools.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:54 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Money clip starts at 3:45 for non-Italian-speakers.

I don't like or understand opera, but thought this was neat.
posted by eugenen at 3:12 PM on July 22, 2011


That gave me chills and seeing the performers cry afterwards was beautiful. It's moments like these that people remember forever and hopefully inspire them....the singers and conductor to continue to pursue their craft and the audience to remember how art can move people and create change.
posted by victoriab at 3:12 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


By the end of that I was weeping openly at work.
posted by chronkite at 3:12 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Muti had allowed an Encore only once in his career, at La Scala in 1986, and he was not likely to do it again unless the occasion really deserved it, but the crowd had touched him deeply.

Lovely as this was, they fact that the had leaflets raining from the ceiling seems to indicate that this wasn't entirely spontaneous.
posted by tighttrousers at 3:52 PM on July 22, 2011


Ugh, spelling fail.
posted by tighttrousers at 3:53 PM on July 22, 2011


@tighttrousers: weren't those programs fluttering from the balconies?
posted by jackbrown at 4:48 PM on July 22, 2011


Opera lovers cheer for forcing those who don't love the opera to pay for it. What progressives.

When we are all dead and there is no one left on earth to remember the human race, Verdi will still be immortal.
posted by winna at 5:04 PM on July 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Opera lovers cheer for forcing those who don't love the opera to pay for it. What progressives.

Part of living in a civilized society is helping to pay for things that benefit and define civilization, even if you, personally, are not civilized enough to appreciate those things. Of all the things you pay for against your will, lyric opera is certainly not the one to complain about.
posted by The World Famous at 5:16 PM on July 22, 2011 [14 favorites]


Lovely story, thanks for posting.
posted by carter at 5:27 PM on July 22, 2011


Wow. That's all I can say.
posted by puddinghead at 5:50 PM on July 22, 2011


@serazin to answer the "falling paper" question...many opera houses (with good reason) very much limit what patrons may bring in to "toss" on the stage (flowers, etc.) This "confetti" has become a popular (and easy to smuggle in) way of the rafter-seated to express their high regard for a performance. Plus, it makes the curtain call seem delightfully parade-like.
posted by PranaBoy at 6:09 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I too watched this at work and wept. Thank you, Cobalt. That was beautiful.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:11 PM on July 22, 2011


This makes me bitterly sentimental for my twenty year career as a supernumerary in the Washington [National] Opera, which stretched from '81 to '01 and only ended because I got so fat they began to cast me solely as soldiers and lumpen barbarians. There's something about hearing an opera from the middle of the stage that's just celestial, and I would imagine this is about as close as some people are likely to get. Rousing, to say the least.
posted by sonascope at 6:11 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


What an amazing moment. Thanks for posting this, Cobalt.

LMGM: BTW, is it true that Berlusconi was in attendance for the event?

According to this article, the performance in the video was a few days before the 150th anniversary. There was another performance on the anniversary which Berlusconi was present for, and Muti spoke to him afterwards backstage.
posted by homunculus at 7:09 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Moved me to joyous tears. Thank you Cobalt for this unexpected and meaningful treat.
posted by nickyskye at 7:50 PM on July 22, 2011


There's something about hearing an opera from the middle of the stage that's just celestial...

Second that. I was once an extra in Japan for a La Scala performance with Muti. My introduction to opera, actually, starting right on stage. Muti wasn't popular with some of the Italian non-singing professionals who travelled with the tour. When I asked why during a rehearsal, one of them gestured towards the maestro who was then explaining something with his jaw thrust forward and his chest puffed up. I figured it was just some Italianate form of pontificating but I supposed they took it as arrogance. Maybe it was. I wouldn't know. I do know the opening night was incredible, although I didn't understand at the time quite how. Only later in the dressing room when I heard the others describing it did I realize it was one of those magical evenings that don't happen often, even with the same crew for the following three performances. Whatever happened, something got into me, and I've been an opera lover ever since.

Thanks for the post.
posted by ecourbanist at 9:35 PM on July 22, 2011


Great, I just woke up. Tried to avoid the Oslo thread that kept me up all night. Now, I'm sobbing while I have an espresso. What a great, great post.
posted by ouke at 1:47 AM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


This looked joyous. Long live the Romans.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:16 AM on July 23, 2011


Thanks for posting this.
posted by prefpara at 6:12 AM on July 23, 2011


You know, MessageInABottle, it is entirely possible to be conflicted about one's country.

I am Italian, I consider myself Italian, my grandparents were ethnically Italian even when the Southern part of Trentino was under Austro-Hungarian regime.

In WWI, my paternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother were deported, by the Austrians, to labor camps to prevent them from potentially aiding the Italian troops. My paternal grandmother fled to Verona to avoid the conflict. My maternal grandfather fought, voluntarily, with the Kaiserschützen against the Italians. In WW2, he fought with the Alpini against the Austrians.

There is a reason why Trentino - and not just South Tyrol - is part of the Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino Euroregion. We have for millennia been a border region, neither Italy nor Austria.

But that's besides the point. The point is that while I consider myself Italian, I'm not sure Italy does. If the unification of Italy happened 150 years ago, it happened before they annexed my land and my people. If we are also Italian, then the "unification" of Italy did not happen until 1919 and there is no reason to have an 150 year celebration in 2011.

And, for the record, I moved to the US six years ago from my hometown of Arco, in Trentino. If you have trouble comprehending how one may be both proud of one's heritage and country yet not live there, you could take a look at associations such as Trentini nel Mondo for a refresher.

The Va' Pensiero is a stirring, beautiful aria. I'd much rather have that as my anthem than the Inno di Mameli. Less militaristic grandstanding, more longing for an ideal motherland. Bravo to Muti.
posted by lydhre at 8:32 AM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


But that's besides the point. The point is that while I consider myself Italian, I'm not sure Italy does. If the unification of Italy happened 150 years ago, it happened before they annexed my land and my people. If we are also Italian, then the "unification" of Italy did not happen until 1919 and there is no reason to have an 150 year celebration in 2011.

lyhdre, I understand what you mean, but I really really don't think the date being set for the official unification of Italy and being used for commemorations such as this year has any bearing on how actual Italians from other regions view Italians from South Tyrol, nevermind the whole Trentino region.

If anything, I'm sure you know there is more of the opposite phenomenon especially in South Tyrol, ie. German speakers who do not consider themselves Italian -just a few months ago there was some controversy over local elections in a small town where an "ethnically Italian" candidate (ie. in the linguistic/cultural sense, most of the local population being German by language) won and the Südtiroler Volskpartei objected saying "he cannot govern". Not saying this to judge or condemn anything, but I think it'd be fairer to give a more complete picture when it comes to that kind of "identity" issue there.

In my experience, most people I've known from Trentino do see themselves as Italian (often with the advantage of being bilingual, lucky them!), and they are not that concerned with such issues of identity, but, in South Tyrol, where German speakers are the majority, it is another story... The Südtiroler Volkspartei does exist for a reason.
posted by bitteschoen at 9:29 AM on July 23, 2011


bittescoen, absolutely. I cannot personally speak for the people of South Tyrol, but I can tell you that I believe with all my heart that every people has, and should have, the right to self-determination. For some of the citizens of South Tyrol, that means rejoining Austria. For some, it means creating a new, independent state (which is what Euroregions are in some ways standing for and trying to address), and for some, it means they are content or determined to remain an Italian region.

The South Tyrol contention is also another reason why I am not fond of the great 150 year celebrations. Trentino was ethnically Italian, therefore its annexation should be considered in determining the anniversary of the "unification" of Italy, and yet the annexation of South Tyrol was - in the eyes of many of its people - illegitimate, and that should ALSO be a factor in determining whether or not we SHOULD all be celebrating what was, for some people, a forced takeover.

It's more of an "if A then B" situation for me. If we indeed always were Italian, then the date of our annexation should be the date of the celebratory reunification, not 1871. On the other hand, if the annexation of South Tyrol was illegitimate (which is I agree that it was), we should not be celebrating a united Italy at all until we all actually are united and self-determined Italians.

I also do not speak for all Trentini, obviously, just me.
posted by lydhre at 9:52 AM on July 23, 2011


Pardon my typo in your username.
posted by lydhre at 9:53 AM on July 23, 2011


lydhre, grazie, thanks for explaining so well, I do totally understand your point of view, and it's an interesting perspective for me as another Italian "expat" but not from Trentino (unfortunately, because I moved to Germany a few years ago and being bilngual from childhood would have been a BIG advantage).

And by the way yes I also think being attached to your national heritage and being an expatriate are indeed very compatible things. I prefer to see it as attachment in a language/cultural sense than in 'national identity' terms, as I'm wary of abuses of the concept... but then again I'm just as wary of separatist movements as some of them in Italy can be very hmm dodgy (thinking of the Lega Nord though, rather than South Tyrol).

Italy was made one starting from so many differences at local level and I think they should all be seen as enrichment to the common culture rather than reasons to seek separation. BUT... I know in Alto Adige/South Tyrol it's a lot more complicated, and the history has a very heavy weight, and so I cannot presume to have any precise opinion about the specific political issues and the consequences of historical events. It's a beautiful area so rich in traditions and people have preserved it magnificently.

I am not generally too keen on national celebrations but it did have a special meaning this year because of all that's happening in Italy, and because the Lega Nord is in this disastrous government, and because Italy needs to still do a lot of work in terms of historical memory and even yes unification, it's not a done deal, it's something that constantly needs to be worked on.

Sorry if this sounds a bit confused or contradictory, that's what it all feels like to me anyway, this "being Italian" in 2011. On the brink of finacial disaster and god knows what else, needing to keep some optimism and appreciating those who are doing something to effect a change for the better, but still finding it hard to of see any short term improvements. Hoping it's not a case of "murdering of the culture" but a sort of pollution that can be still cleaned up at least partially. It's painful. More so as an expat, going back often enough and yet being shocked by things that if you live in Italy all the time you don't even find shocking anymore, lots of people end up getting too used to a lot of things that no one should get used to. I'll stop rambling on now. Anyhow, thanks for the exchange.
posted by bitteschoen at 1:42 PM on July 23, 2011


Lhydre, I simply don't understand how you can "decide" that the people from one part of Italy should celebrate its unification from the moment Trentino became part of it. After WW2 we lost the "Zone B" in Istria, which had been ethnically Italian (or rather Venetian) for centuries - so Italians there should wait until they are united to Italy in an unlikely future to celebrate unification?
Italy became one country when the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed (in 1861, incidentally, not 1871, that's why it's 150 years) as the vast majority of Italian-speaking land was under the administration of an Italian government (with a Piedmontese, French speaking country, but that's irrelevant - English Kings spoke German "at home" well into the 19th century).
The fact of the lack of the "terre irredente" was important, but the State existed already (and also made it its political objective to conquer them).
This is what is being celebrated this year. Anyway, you have been courteous and comprehensive in your posting/answer to me so thanks - I will simply respect your feelings and we'll agree to disagree. As for your land, I consider it part of my land too, Italy. My perception is that most Italians would agree with me - but you are entitled to a different view.
I also would consider the annexation of South Tyrol illegitimate, but this cannot prevent a State to celebrate its independence/reunification.

As for the expat thing, I was asking to understand better your perspective - I am an Italian living abroad as well.
posted by MessageInABottle at 2:44 PM on July 23, 2011


Thank you, everyone. I'm very happy you liked it as much as I did.
posted by Cobalt at 4:08 PM on July 23, 2011


Amazing. Thank you for posting.
posted by booksarelame at 12:57 PM on July 24, 2011


*shivers*
posted by Theta States at 12:01 PM on July 25, 2011


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