Nino Rota, Federico Fellini, and the Making of an Italian Cinematic Folk Opera amarcord

Author: Sciannameo, Franco
Year:2005
Pages:108
ISBN:0-7734-6099-3
978-0-7734-6099-7
Price:119.95
Federico Fellini entered the pantheon of 20th-Century artists for his path-breaking films like, La dolce vita (1960) and Otto e mezzo (1963). However, it was with Amarcord (1973), that Fellini achieved universal fame. That celebration of youth and memory transcends all barriers of ethnic origin and national belonging by simply appealing to human commonalities. Similarly, Nino Rota’s music, an integral part of this film, eludes cultural boundaries by blending learned and popular musical styles – as in a folk-opera in which stories or episodes are expressed through song and dance representative of everyday life. By juxtaposing music and images, their own creative personae and their youth as it relates to our collective memories, Fellini and Rota made this film about “remembering youth” an unforgettable experience for generations of viewers and listeners. This monograph is of interest to scholars of music, cinema, and cultural studies.

Reviews

“The story of Nino Rota and Federico Fellini may well come to be understood as the model for the future of classical composers and their music, rather than as a glamorous anomaly. A composer trained in the most serene temples of classicized art, Rota never lost his way with a great tune or set aside his touch with a popular texture. While his muse may have become the cinema, mediated best through his thirty year association with Fellini, his oeuvre spans all forms of concert music and he remained resolutely and securely in the conservatory world. Franco Sciannameo tells this story gracefully and with charming erudition. He weaves disparate elements of an extremely useful and evocative scenic synopsis of the music of Amarcord, a comprehensive bibliography, a profile of the composer, a table of Rota's works throughout the Fellini period, and even a lagniappe of some delightful but previously unknown bell music by Rota, connecting all by means of a discerning investigation of how Rota and Fellini together found an ideal synthesis of music and film, seen through the lens of one of their greatest collaborations, Amarcord. Sciannameo 's translation of Fellini's eulogy to Rota is a particularly touching, and telling, inclusion … The lover of music will find much to think about in this monograph and the lover of film will be delighted throughout. In presenting what Fellini called "the miracles of Nino Rota," Sciannameo succeeds in conveying a deep feeling of tenderness as well.” – (from the Foreword) Alan Fletcher, Professor and Head, School of Music, Carnegie Mellon University

“The long title of this fascinating study does scant justice to the richness contained within its pages. It is packed with information of the most specific and scholarly precision, written with clarity and verve usually associated with entertaining movie reviews. The object of this book is threefold: the great film maker Fellini, his composer Nino Rota, and their collaboration in their masterpiece Amarcord. Such an undertaking would be daunting, but Sciannameo is clearly up to the task of illuminating, explaining, and untangling the many threads in this very special study. Seldom does one encounter such an important subject and author so well suited to each other. Sciannameo is himself as fascinating and versatile as many-sided subject he writes about. He is a world class violist, scholar, and teacher … Amarcord is a complex movie, layered with imagery, dialogue, and musical symbolism which invoke histories of cinematic, historic, and personal references – all superimposed and running concurrently. The surface of this movie, both visually and aurally, is dense, flowing, subtle, and information-packed. Mr. Sciannameo separates and identifies each strand, informs and explains their significance to the young Fellini (during the period of Italian Fascism) and the older Fellini pondering his lost youth. In the process, the author refers to the earlier critiques of (seemingly) every prominent Fellini critic in Italian, German, French and English … . No book on film analysis that I know is so thorough and detailed in its study of the musical language, harmonic analysis, and source study of the various important cues … With his astute analyses, not only of Fellini’s movies but of the commentaries on those movies, Sciannameo’s writings resemble a prismatic refraction of reality and fantasy in Fellini’s cinematic world. Since so many of Fellini’s movies deal with remembrances, and therefore the commentaries are attempts to decipher these images from history and imagination, Sciannameo’s commentaries align critical reviews with accurate descriptions of the scenes discussed. His presentations of these multiple layers of information are interesting and balanced. His analyses often compare the writings of earlier critics with his own authoritative and insightful judgments, throwing shafts of light onto already brilliant ideas and images … Only a very special author (who is at once a virtuoso violist, devoted and experienced studio musician and classically trained scholar) could have provided such a complete study … This is a valuable book.” – Paul Chihara, Professor of Music, UCLA and Composer-in-Residence, Mancini Institute

Table of Contents

Foreword by Alan Fletcher
Introduction and Acknowledgments
1. From Grandfather to Godfather: A Biographical Profile of Nino Rota; The Fellini-Rota Period
2. The Film Amarcord; The Function of Music in the film Amarcord
Bibliography
Index of Names
Appendix