Francesco Lodola: Once Verdi told “Let us turn to the past that will be progress”, but he doesn’t mean to be hold on to the past, but that the past can teach us and can make us thinking about the present and the future. Opera can make us have fun and at the same time reflect…

Francesco Lodola was born in Verona, where he graduated from the Liceo Musicale, and also graduated in Communication Sciences and Publishing and Journalism at his city’s university. From ‘the cradle’, he has been a lover of opera, frequenting the most important theaters in Italy and abroad. In 2011, he founded the online platform IeriOggiDomani Opera, which was created with the aim of introducing the youngest audience to the world of opera, and which now involves an editorial staff of ten young people under30 from all over Italy, producing reviews and interviews on opera performances. In 2019, he was among the creators of the first YouTube web-series on opera, dedicated in particular to the construction of the new production of La Traviata at the Arena di Verona. The series, entitled #ArenaOff and realized with few technological means, for a wide audience, not only of opera fans, received the interest of various national media due to its passionate and attentive account of the professionalism of the world of opera, in an authentic journey into the world behind the scenes. He is also the author of our cookery rubric, where he proposes an Italian or international recipe each month, linking it to a title from the great opera repertoire.

Our dear friend Francesco, it’s such a pleasure to finally have the chance to interview you and I’d like to start our conversation with a huge warm Congratulations for your recently launched book! Such an amazing initiative! What’s the story of this book?

The idea of this book was born in 2020 during the pandemic. In that period I read a lot about the opera world and preparing for my degree in Publishing and Journalism I was interested in particular on the relationship between these two subjects. Ricordi is always present in our lives as musicians, because since we’re child we possess at least only one score with its iconic mark. I already knew these characters, Giovanni, Tito and Giulio, but only through the lives of the extraordinary composers they are related with: Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini and many others, but my attention was never focused on them. I decided at one point to understand in which way these amazing composers they became legends and I realized how Ricordi was fundamental in building their myths. They were not only publishers, they were psychologists for these geniuses (Puccini used to call Giulio “Papà”), they were talent-scout (I’m always moved by Giulio Ricordi who paid a monthly wage to the young Puccini to cultivate his “green” talent). I decided to entitle the book “Una storia italiana” because Ricordi represented not only a turning point in the music world, but also in the story of Italy, for their support to the nationalistic cause (they used the press media instruments they possess to tell people the events of independence wars and the process of the unification of Italy), their political intervention in the fight for the copyright and their “futuristic” vision… they were the first publishers to export in Italy the advertising poster (born in France with great artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec). They were extraordinary entrepreneurs and human beings.

Who’s your book addressed to – your target audience – and what’s, in few words, the message that you’d like them to remember after reading it?

Writing the book I always thought to an imaginary reader, and I imagined him/her as a person who doesn’t know nothing about opera culture, so I tried to be simpler possible in telling the story of Ricordi and all the relationships with the composers and the technical issues that concern opera and music. For this reason I don’t call my book a scientific essay (there are people more competent than me that already wrote this kind of books, for example Stefano Baia Curioni, who wrote the “bible” about Ricordi), but I always wanted to write an essay with a disseminative purpose. I have included a lot of anedoctes that can convey and explain some concepts in a funny and entertaining way. My wish is that the book is an enjoyable reading, that maybe can make someone curious about our crazy and funny opera world.

Read the entire interview here, in the 4th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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