Aldo Finzi's Masterwork Debuts 70 Years Later

'Serenade for the Wind' Makes Premiere at Milan's La Scala

Rossella Tercatin

By Rossella Tercatin

Published December 27, 2012, issue of December 28, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Moments before he passed away, in 1945, composer Aldo Finzi whispered the words, “Fate suonare la mia musica” (“Let my music be performed”). Recently, on a particularly cold December night, his last and greatest wish was fulfilled in the 19th-century Donizetti Theatre in Bergamo, less than 35 miles away from the legendary La Scala Opera House, where Finzi’s opera “La Serenata al Vento” (“The Serenade to the Wind”) should have been performed nearly 70 years ago.

Born in Milan in 1897 to a middle-class Jewish family with a passion for music (his aunt was a soprano), Finzi had already established himself as a promising composer by the time he was 24. His works had been published by the famous Casa Ricordi, among them, several pieces of chamber music, a few symphonic poems and his masterpiece, “La Serenata al Vento,” a comic opera based on a libretto by Carlo Veneziani.

The Serenata tells the story of the exuberant Loly and her pedantic tutor, Leandro, who enters Loly’s window by mistake to get away from his secret lover’s place. This incurs the wrath of her strict father, Colonel Dagoberto, resulting in a crescendo of misunderstandings and comic moments. When, in 1937, the Milan La Scala issued a contest for a new opera, to be performed during the following season, Finzi entered his opera into the competition.

“It seems like yesterday,” recalled Bruno Finzi, his son, who is now 87. “I was walking with my father in the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, and the master of La Scala, Riccardo Pick-Mangiagalli, who was sitting on the jury of the contest, came to us. ‘I should not say anything,’ he told my father, ‘but I wanted to offer you my congratulations. The Serenata won. You can start to think about the production, the cast, the scenes.’ My father was beside himself with joy and pride.”

But for Jews, dark times were approaching fast. The official announcement of Finzi’s victory never came. In 1938 the Anti-Jewish Laws were promulgated in Italy. Finzi could not work anymore. He was offered a job as a musician in Chicago, but he did not want to leave his family. In 1943 the Finzis went into hiding.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.