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  • Introduction to D'Amico
  • Alessandra Campana

Fedele D'Amico (1912–90) was perhaps the most influential music critic and musicologist in postwar Italy. Married to Suso Cecchi D'Amico—the notorious scriptwriter responsible for the last sixty years of Italian cinema—and son of Silvio D'Amico—the theater critic who shaped Italian theater life for half of the twentieth century—Fedele D'Amico became the voice of committed and militant criticism of the arts and especially of music. His unrelenting advocacy for an educated but antielitist cultural policy was developed in particular through his articles for L'Espresso, a weekly newsmagazine that since the 1950s had engaged several Italian leftist intellectuals (Umberto Eco, among others). From 1967 to his death D'Amico wrote several hundreds of columns—compelling and opinionated accounts of live concerts and opera performances. This piece, first published in L'Espresso in the summer of 1973, offers testimony of an oddly underreported event: the Spoleto Festival production of Manon Lescaut signed by the celebrated film and opera director Luchino Visconti. Apparently very little, if anything, is left of this production, the last of Visconti's, who, already ill, would die just a few years later. D'Amico enthusiastically embraces Visconti's modern view of the opera, one that presumably offered a more nuanced experience of Puccini's theater, at a time when his operas were either unreservedly revered as national-popular emblems or discarded with condescension. [End Page 107]

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