Monday, January 16, 2012

Relatives of the Day - Gaetano and Antonio Cipollini

The mother of my grandmother was Natalina Scrugli. She was the daughter if Antonino Scrugli and Caterina Cipollini. On 18 March 1850 at Santa Caterina Church in Tropea, Antonino and Caterina were married in a double wedding ceremony. Also married that day in the same church at the same time was Antonino's sister Natalina Scrugli and Caterina's brother Ferdinando Cipollini. This story is about the son's of Ferdinando and Natalina. The first child of Ferdinando and Natalina they named Gaetano in honor of his paternal grandfather as was Italian tradition. He was born on 18 February 1851 in Tropea. Sometime before February, 1857 Ferdinando and Natalina moved to Monteleone Calabro (today this town is the City of Vibo Valentia) because on 15 February 1857 a second son named Antonio was born. These two children would go forth to write beautiful music which included an opera that takes place in Monteleone Calabro.
Gaetano showed an amazing aptitude for music at an early age and was sent to a music conservatory in Napoli for further training and instruction. In the late 1800's in Italy, if you wanted to see your opera performed, Milano was the place to be. Gaetano left for Milano to pursue his dream. While in Milano he wrote an opera and called it Simeta. The story called for very opulent sets and costumes. Although this ambitious opera was well received by the press when the libretto was printed, and even compared to Puccini's La Scala, poor business transactions, the costs to produce expensive costumes and sets and long negotiations lasting over 7 years prevented this work from premiering onstage. This failure would haunt Gaetano to the end of his life. He wrote many others both with and without his brother Antonio, including "La Calabria". At the age of 80 Gaetano entered a home that was set up in Milano for aging musicians called Casa Verdi named for Giuseppe Verdi. Gaetano died at Casa Verdi, on 2 October 1935.
Antonio began his career as a teacher of Latin and Greek languages which he taught for a time in Monteleone Calabro schools. Antonio possessed a gift with words and began writing poetry, novels and short stories. He also translated and published works from Latin and Greek and became an esteemed critic of literature. In 1884 he collaborated with Pietro Mascagni and together they wrote the romantic opera "Alla Luna" (The Moon). He joined his brother Gaetano in Milano and wrote several opera with his brother Gaetano including Il Piccolo Haydn, Simeta, Gennarello, and Ninon De Lenclos. Antonio Cipollini died in 1920 in Milano. When I think of Calabrian culture, I think of the 2 brothers who spent their lives doing what they loved and promoting the Calabrese culture in the process.

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