My friend Larry over at Amoroma - who is currently doing a great photo series on Titular churches in Roma - reminded us a few weeks ago of a documentary that Laurent and I have always loved. I ordered a copy of it from Amazon in the UK and we watched it last Thursday night. It was as delightful and as moving as it was almost 25 years ago.
Il Bacio di Tosca (Tosca's Kiss)was made in 1984 by Swiss film maker Daniel Schmid. Filmed at the Casa di Riposo Verdi in Milan, Schmid looked at artists who's whole lives had been the operatic stage. Living now in a home founded by the great composer they still had lives filled with music and the reminiscences of their past glory.
There are many moments of aching bittersweetness: Giuseppe Manachini pulling out and proudly displaying his worn costumes that spark memories of triumphs in South America and Europe; Sara Scuderi listening to a 1940's recording of herself as Tosca and loving murmuring Bella, Bella; Giovanni Puligheddu droning on endearingly about his musical credentials; Tenor Leonida Bellon encountering Scuderi in a hallway and helping her recreated her triumph as she delivers "il bacio di Tosca". The Casa Verdi staff, happily and humorously, treating all this as normal behavior. And for all these creatures of the theatre, now sadly gone, it was.
Though there is a certain sadness to Schmid's documentary there is also triumph - even in their old age they have fire, they have spirit and most importantly they have joy in their past and in their art. Its a wonderful tribute to age.
24 marzo - Santa Caterina di Svezia