On March 30th from 1 pm to 5 pm Centro Primo Levi will screen films and documentaries from its collection. Special feature of the day will be Emanuele Luzzati’s
On March 30th from 1 pm to 5 pm Centro Primo Levi will screen films and documentaries from its collection. Special feature of the day will be Emanuele Luzzati’s and Giulio Gianini’s Oscar nominated animation La Gazza Ladra (1964) with music by Gioacchino Rossini. The film is part of a series of animations Luzzati and Giannini created after operas by Rossini and Mozart. Unlike their other films however, this one uses music as base for animation but departs completely from Rossini’s original libretto staging a powerful commentary on war and the human kind. Centro Primo Levi Film Page
The Italian stage designer Emanuele “Lele” Luzzati was also admired for his achievements as a book illustrator and for the animated cartoons which he co-authored with Giulio Gianini. The best-known of these were Oscar-nominated shorts to opera overtures by Rossini: La Gazza Ladra (The Thieving Magpie, 1966) and Pulcinella (1974, with music from Il Turco in Italia). In 1978 came Il Flauto Magico, a 55-minute work after Mozart’s opera.
He was born in Genoa of a Jewish father. In 1938 when Mussolini’s racial laws were enforced, the family moved to Switzerland. There, at the École des Beaux Arts in Lausanne, he studied and obtained a diploma. In 1945 he was present at the rehearsals of Stravinsky’s revival in Lausanne of his original production there in 1918 of The Soldier’s Tale. Luzzati later maintained that it was this experience which made him decide to become a stage designer. With two other Italian Jewish exiles, Alessandro Fersen and Aldo Trionfo, Luzzati had begun experimenting with masks and scenic effects.
Back in Italy in 1947, Luzzati and Fersen, as director and author, were given the chance to stage Lea Lebowitz, based on a Hebrew legend, for which Lele created his first chimerical designs. Settling in his native Genoa, he joined with others interested in new theatrical trends to found a theatre named after the actor Eleonora Duse, later to become the city’s civic theatre. In the 1950s, he designed many dozens of productions for leading Italian companies, and often his bizarre inventions proved more interesting than the acting performances. In 1960, with Trionfo, he founded a theatre group which, as well as giving first breaks to some of the Italian theatre’s leading avant-garde artists, presented works by the Absurdists for which Luzzati’s grotesque inventions were well suited.
About that same time, he also began his collaboration with Giulio Gianini on animated cartoons. Their first film, The Paladins of France (1960), immediately attracted festival invitations and plaudits. After having already designed many decors for his early productions, he joined forces with Enriquez and his two leading actors, Valeria Moriconi and Glauco Mauri, to make up the quartet of the so-named La Compagnia dei Quattro (The Company of Four). The first of many acclaimed, even if sometimes controversial, productions was the Italian premiere of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros in 1961. The company would also tackle contemporary plays, including Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Stoppard so enjoyed the design that he brought some pieces by Luzzati for his art collection.
Between 1965 and 1969 Enriquez and Luzzati staged Verdi’s Macbeth and three more Mozart’s operas: Don Giovanni, Il Seraglio and Cosi fan tutte. He also designed Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream for the English Opera Group and worked for the Chicago Opera House, the London Festival Ballet, Scottish Opera, the Vienna Staatsoper and all leading Italian opera houses.
Giulio Gianini (1927 – 2009)
An architect by training, Giulio Gianini is the author of over 50 documentaries on artists including Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder. He was a filmmaker, director of photography and animation artist. He is best known for his collaborations with Lele Luzzati, with who he shared a deep passion for theater and puppets. He developed an animation technique based on cut out paper which became distinctive of some of the masterpieces of Italian animated film: La gazza ladra and Pulcinella (nominated for the Oscar in 1964 and 1973). Gianini also directed I cinque Lionni with artists and illustrator Leo Lionni and collaborated with Jean Michel Folon. Gianini taught animation at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome.