Fri, 25 October 2013 - - Dante Alighieri is renowned as the father of the Italian language. Born around 1265, he lived in Florence with his family
and, at the age of twelve, was promised in marriage to the wealthy Gemma Donati. However, he was already in love with Beatrice Portinari and later wrote her sonnets in the medieval
traditional of 'courtly love'. Although he married Gemma, Beatrice remained the unrequited love of his life and his inspiration in both life and art.
He depicted her as semi divine, forever watching over him, and after her death in 1290, he sought refuge in Latin literature and politics.
A member of the Pope's party, he fought with the Guelph cavalry at the Battle of Campaldino in 1289. After the defeat of the Ghibellines, the Guelphs descended into civil war between a 'black' and 'white'
faction, and when Carlo di Valois entered Florence and destroyed much of the city, Dante was exiled and settled in Rome.
Dante's works include Convivio, a collection of poems; La Vita Nova, the story of his spiritual love for Beatrice, and La Divina Commedia. Written in Rome, La Divina Commedia is the most important
literary work in Italian and a masterpiece of world literature. Arranged in three major sections - Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, the narrative traces
Dante's journey from darkness and error to the revelation of the divine light. Guided by the Latin poet Virgil in the first two parts, he is met by Beatrice on the threshold of Paradise.
Dante contracted malaria in Ravenna and died at age 56. He was buried there, even after Florence claimed his remains, and his cenotaph in Basilica di Santa Croce remains empty.
Introduced by Prof Nerida Newbigin, professor emeritus of Italian Language and Literature at the University of Sydney, actor Bianca Bonino will
read selected parts of Inferno at 'A Lectura Dantis' at the Mitchell Theatre on Friday, 25 October 2013. To download an invitation, please click here.
Fri, 23 August 2013 - - Giuseppe Verdi was born in 1813 in Le Roncole, a village near Busseto where he grew up. He is considered the greatest Italian romantic opera composer.
Some of his themes have long taken root in popular culture - such as "La donna e' mobile " from Rigoletto and "Va pensiero" in Nabucco, "Libiamo ne' lieti calici" from La Traviata and the "Grand March" from Aida.
His first operas had a tepid reception, but success arrived in 1842, with the opera Nabucco, followed by Ernani and Macbeth, the first opera without a love story. After the death of his wife, Verdi married Giuseppina Strepponi, a well known
soprano, and they lived at Villa Verdi at Sant'Agata until Verdi's death.
After Rigoletto premiered in Venice in 1851, Verdi wrote two of his major operas, Il Trovatore e La Traviata. His success continued with Il ballo in maschera, La forza del destino, I Vespri siciliani and Don Carlos,
but his most famous opera is Aida, commissioned by the Egyptian government and premiered to great acclaim in Cairo on 24 December 1871.
While staying at the Grand Hotel in Milan, Verdi suffered a stroke on 21 January 1901. He grew gradually more feeble and died six days later. Arturo Toscanini conducted combined orchestras and choirs
composed of musicians from throughout Italy at his state funeral in Milan. More than 300,000 people paid their respects to the composer. It remains the largest public assembly of any event in the history of Italy.
Verdi was initially buried in Milan's Cimitero Monumentale, but a month later, his body was moved to the Casa di riposo per Musicisti, a rest home for retired musicians that Verdi himself had established.
The Society celebrated Verdi's 200th anniversary with a musical evening, conducted by renowned lecturer and musicologist Annie Whealy, at the Mitchell Theatre on Friday, 23 August 2013.
700th anniversary of Giovanni Boccaccio's birth
Fri, 15 March 2013 - - Giovanni Boccaccio was born in 1313 in Tuscany, the illegitimate son of a merchant of Certaldo, who launched him on a commercial career. As a young man Bocaccio lived in Naples and mingled in courtly society, falling in love with a noble lady whom he made famous under the name of Fiammetta. Towards 1350, Boccaccio became a diplomat entrusted with important public affairs and visited Rome,
Ravenna, Avignon and Brandenburg.
In 1358 he completed his most
famous work, the Decameron,
which is set in Florence during the
plague. This is the story of three
gentlemen and seven ladies who
escaped to the country and
over a period of ten days told
one hundred stories.
In graceful Italian, Boccaccio
selected the plot of the stories
from the popular fiction of his day
and his originality lays not only in
his narrative skills, but also in the rich poetical sentiments which adorn his prose. The influence of the Decameron on European literature has been
profound, not just in Italy, but in France and especially England, where both Chaucer and Shakespeare were influenced by it.
This year, we have celebrated the 700th anniversary of Giovanni Boccaccio's birth with a spectacular presentation
of art, literature and theatre on Friday, 15 March 2013 at the Mitchell Theatre, featuring art historian Barbara Bertini and actor Bianca Bonino.
"Ephemeral Like Laughter": Introducing Commedia dell'Arte
Fri, 21 Sept 2012, 6:00pm - - Commedia dell'Arte, also known as "Italian comedy,"
was a humorous theatrical presentation performed by professional players who travelled in troupes throughout Italy in the 16th century.
La Dante invites you to explore this colourful and very entertaining art form through a presentation by Bianca Bonino, in both English amd Italian, followed by Q&A.