100 years after his death on 2 August 1921, the Cineteca di Bologna remembers the Neapolitan tenor with the restoration of one of the two films interpreted by the artist
If Caruso’s cousin looks like Caruso like a drop of water it is because, it doesn’t take long to understand, they are the same person. One has a mustache and the other does not, one is rich, the other poor. But in the end Tommaso Carulli, a penniless sculptor, and Cesare Carulli, opera star, have the plump and good-natured face of Enrico Caruso, the tenor of the two worlds, who died just 100 years ago, on 2 August 1921. To pay homage to him, the festival The Rediscovered Cinema proposes tonight at the Arena del Sole in Bologna, My Cousin, shot in 1918 by Edward José, the only surviving film of the two that Caruso had played (the other, The Splendid Romance, has been lost) for the incredible cachet of 200 thousand dollars.
Restored in 4K by the Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with the MoMA of New York, from which the reference copy used for the reconstruction comes, My Cousinit is obviously a silent film. First reason, and understandable, of the flop at the exit despite the critics having recognized Caruso’s talent also as an actor, never emphatic despite the stylistic features of the silent one. “The live musical accompaniment, while quoting the opera arias and songs that had made him famous, were not enough to compensate for the lack of his voice” explains Daniele Furlati, author of the music of The wind makes its rounds, The man who will come, I wanted to hide, here engaged in the arduous work of a sound reconstruction capable of performing even the missing “magic”.
The voice of the tenor
«This time in My Cousin Caruso will sing! – Furlati reveals -. In the film we see him on stage at the Met with Pagliacci. His workhorse, the one everyone wanted to hear. We took three editions of Put on your jacket, who in the film Caruso sings wearing the clown collar and flouring his face. We have chosen the points where the words are best synchronized with the lip, recomposing them in a new version ».
The rest of the score, Furlati will perform live on the piano with Francois Laurent on the mandolin and Guido Sodo, voice and mandolin. «A small staff ready to recreate those sounds in the wake of improvisation. The fascination of silent music lies precisely in leaving room for the creativity of the interpreter, even at the risk of imperfections. Live music must be alive, involving what I call the “playing spectator” in the performance ».
Forerunner of the “musicarelli”
Finally listening to the tenor in the long awaited aria is giving the ultimate meaning to a film built on that melody. “Caruso was the forerunner of” musicarelli films “, where the song itself creates the story, a genre in vogue in the sixties with titles such Kneeling by you with Gianni Morandi ».
Set in a postcard Little Italy, My Cousin foresaw the supreme banality in outlining the life of Italian emigrants, all spaghetti, knives and jealousy «Irritated by these stereotypes, Caruso intervened on the script, turning commonplaces into a joke and debunking anti-Italian prejudices. After all, here he tells his story, from a penniless young man to success ».
Too bad that such affectionate cinephile philology has not been confirmed by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, which has allowed Caruso’s correspondence auctioned at Christie’s to be sold off and dismembered.
July 25, 2021 (change July 25, 2021 | 07:14)