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!
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • 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.