Casa Ricordi, 1954
Nel 1807, a Milano, Giovanni Ricordi, dopo aver comprato a Lipsia una nuova stampante, in cambio dell'impegno a lavorare gratis per il Teatro alla Scala, ottiene tutti i manoscritti musicali che giacciono negli scantinati del Teatro. Ha inizio così la dinastia musicale della Casa Ricordi che vediamo svolgersi per tutto l'ottocento con Giovanni e Tito e Giulio e con i grandi dell'opera italiana: da Rossini a Bellini con la sua morte precoce, da Donizetti a Verdi e alla sua crisi all'avvento della musica nuova di Wagner, per finire il secolo con Puccini all'ombra della torre Eiffel.
Told in pageantlike fashion, this movie is the story of the Ricordi family, the most prestigious music publishers in all Italy. It was the Ricordis who, for better or worse, came up with the royalty concept, paying artists (and their families) for their work in perpetuity. As the family's fortune grows, the Ricordis rub shoulders with the musical glitterati of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Verdi, Donizetti, Puccini, Bellini and Rossini. Naturally, this allows the film to showcase some of these composers' most famous works--and in true Hollywood-by-the-Mediterranean fashion, the principal influence for these compositions are the various members of the Ricordi family. The soundtrack of Casa Ricordi reverberates with the voices of such musical immortals as Tito Gobbi, Renata Tebaldi, Mario Del Monaco and Gianni Poggi, among many others.
I saw this movie in my teen years and I enjoyed it enormously. I was an enthusiast of Italian opera, and here was an unbelievable pageantry with all the great names of the nineteenth century belcanto from Rossini to Puccini passing through Verdi, impersonated by actors like Marcello Mastroianni and Micheline Presle, Paolo Stoppa and Danièle Delorme, Roland Alexandre and Märta Torén, Maurice Ronet and Myriam Bru, Andrea Checchi (to name just a very few from a huge cast), supported by such golden voices as Mario Del Monaco or Renata Tebaldi. It was a blockbuster, and I was young and this was what I loved, such a great spectacle with great historical names, great cast, great colors and great music. A bit of humor now and then, a bit of melodrama here and there, love permeating everything .... and glorious belcanto. And Carmine Galone, the director, knew how to make a blockbuster.
I kept the memory of this movie through the years, and I wanted to watch it again. I had this possibility today. Traaveling on a time machine to see how it was everything on your past, your universe of those times, and your own selfie. To see it with your eyes from now. Of course it shows its age this Casa Ricordi from 1954, and I am showing my age, too. But I watched it with joy, a very old friend from sixty years ago.