In L’Aquila “Chats with an Evil Goddess”
Even though I’ve been speaking Italian for more than half my life, words still flee me; at times, I feel that my perception of the exact translation of a word is imprecise. I read with pride the late May Abruzzo newspaper article on my husband Pino’s sponsorship of a second theatrical piece in L’Aquila, the headlines announcing “…evento grazie a un mecenate” (“event thanks to a patron”). I understood the meaning of “mecenate” but wanting a dictionary definition, I looked it up. For the dictionary, “patron” or “sponsor.” But the word felt like more to me. I needed more.
So I decided to trace the etymology of the word. A fascinating hunt. Mecanate was the court minister of Augustus Caesar who created the famous “circle of Mecenate” embracing those most illustrious cultural personages of Caesar’s empire – among them Virgil, Horace, Tito Livio, Ovid – and encouraging and protecting their cultural endeavors. “Mecenate” therefore implies a political figure or cultural protagonist who “protects, favors, and finances men of culture…..so that they can undertake their cultural initiatives, receiving a compensation.”
As Pino said at the televised press conference a couple days before his sponsored event, “I want to bring more than bricks and cement to L’Aquila, devastated in the April 2009 earthquake. I feel here in L’Aquila a cultural vitality – and we builders here should help in some way to restore the cultural life that sparks the society to reconnect.”
Pino told me, “ I asked myself ‘Who will live in these apartments we restored? Will the people want to return to a destroyed L’Aquila?’ I earned something when we rebuilt the apartment complexes. I wish to give back a cultural contribution to help re-activate the mechanism which ties the people to a city. It must become again a vital cultural center so that re-entry to L’Aquila becomes attractive to the people.” Pino knows that the aquilani will want to return if their city again offers economic, cultural, and social attractions.
Cultural sparks must return to L’Aquila, like the astounding late May theatrical presentation, actress Elena Bucci’s “Colloqui con la Dea Cattiva” (“Chats with the Evil Goddess”), a gift to L’Aquila from Pino’s company, Impresa Edile Giuseppe Alagna. A century after the period of la Grande Guerra (“the great war”, World War I, 1914 – 1918), theatrical and musical events all over Italy are promoting reflections on the bellicose event, as does Elena Bucci. In a darkened theater, Elena’s spell-binding – at times, ferocious, screeching, strident – monologues accompanied by Simone Zanchini’s bewitching accordion-playing brought the public to their feet.
The applause was a thanks to Pino, too, “mecenate” for a night. As a signora aquilana put it when thanking Pino, “All the builders working now in L’Aquila should be doing what you have done for us. Mille grazie!”
Read about Pino’s other cultural offering to earthquake-damaged L’Aquila
See the astounding performances of both Elena and Simone here
Read about L’Aquila devastation due to the April 6, 2009 earthquake
Click here for more on the Abruzzo earthquake
Read about Abruzzo’s ties to a California mission
See bewitching Simone Zanchini perform
Read about inexpensive good-eating in L’Aquila