The concept of coralità, or “chorality,” has a long history in Italian film criticism. Beginning with Carlo Trabucco’s application of the term to Roberto Rossellini’s Roma, città aperta (1945), it has since become prevalent in discussions of Rossellini’s work (as P. Adams Sitney and Peter Bondanella point out) as well as neorealist film more generally. While commentators have tended to see such choral techniques as an unproblematic means of indexing the “common people,” this article challenges the conventional theorization of coralità by demonstrating the frequency with which choral configurations of voice are used in neorealist films not to reflect an existing social group but, rather, to construct a fantasmatic or imaginary one. By examining choral episodes in films such as De Sica’s Sciuscià (1946) and De Santis’s Riso amaro (1949), I argue that these directors orchestrate moments of vocal plurality to convey a sense of amplified presence, which in turn serves a range of rhetorical purposes. I conclude with analyses of several post-neorealist films in order to juxtapose their highly self-conscious mobilization of choral structures, which make explicit the ideological valence of one of neorealism’s most naturalized tropes.


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pp. 27-41
Launched on MUSE
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