The book "The rebel genius: the Bohemian life of Luigi Illica" edited by Giangiacomo Schiavi will be premiered on Saturday 8 July in Castell'Arquato

On Saturday 8 July 2023, the preview presentation of the book “IL GENIO RIBELLE. Luigi Illica una vita da Bohème”, edited by Giangiacomo Schiavi, columnist of the Corriere della Sera.

“The disheveled journalism of Luigi Illica is at the center of the original volume that enhances the role of the great librettist of Puccini (among the musical masterpieces Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly), Mascagni and Giordano in Italian publishing at the end of the 19th century. We succeeded in carrying out research within the Master's in Journalism of the IULM University of Milan in collaboration with the Rector Gianni Canova , and Giancomo Schiavi, which aims to deepen and raise awareness of the multifaceted figure of Luigi Illica at an international level.”, declares Gilda Bojardi, Councillor for Culture and Tourism of Castell'Arquato.

Illica's newspaper
Intertwining biography, character and career, Giangiacomo Schiavi brings to light - with documents and testimonies also unpublished - the innovative and current nature of Illica's journalism, its numerous social battles against the exploitation of women, brothels and capitalism in Italy of the end of the century, and deepens the partnership with Giuseppe Giacosa.

Illica and Giacosa, opposite personalities but both revolutionary and far-sighted, are a model for their era, "destined to set the standard for modern couples, Mogol-Battisti for music and Fruttero and Lucentini for writing", writes Canova .

Illica was 22 years old when he moved to Milan, a city that in 1879 was at the dawn of progress: the first illuminated windows in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the first carriages and the first newsboys, in a climate of great intellectual and social ferment. "Unbeknownst to him, Illica was disheveled from an early age, [...] called 'The Bizarre', in the Municipality of Castell'Arquato" - says Schiavi.

After his journalistic apprenticeship in Milan at Corriere della Sera, then directed by Eugenio Torelli Viollier, Illica moved to Bologna: there, moved by ideas of struggle against the hypocrisy of politics and the cultural hegemony of the Church, in 1881 he founded with Luigi Lodi and the lawyer Barbani Brodani the newspaper Don Quixote, whose spearhead is Giosuè Carducci .

Schiavi examines and retraces the years of Don Quixote, defining it as a "glocal newspaper, global and local at the same time.": it is in this synthesis of history and society, style and language, ideals and creativity that the journalistic history of the Arquatese helps us reflect on today's journalism.

When Illica returned to Milan in 1882, he worked with Paolo Valera and other journalists in the investigation entitled "The belly of Milan", an indictment against progress that forgets humanity, and collaborated with Giacosa in La Lettura (The cultural insert of the Corriere della Sera, born in 1901 at the behest of the director Luigi Albertini, suspended with the Second World War and reinvented in 2013), which Giacosa directed from 1901 to 1906.

Theatrical legacy

“The Piccolo Teatro di Grassi and Strehler considered it its institutional duty to periodically go back to the roots of the city's cultural history and to its most significant theatrical authors: Bertolazzi in the late 1950s, Illica and Carlo Maria Maggi, the progenitor, in the 1960s , to which must be added the poetry recital 'In Milan with Carlo Porta' by Dante Isella interpreted by Franco Parenti.”, says Carlo Fontana, President of Impresa Cultura Italia , former Superintendent of the Teatro alla Scala.

The publication

The publication is promoted by the Comune of Castell'Arquato and by the Donatella Ronconi Foundation and Enrica Prati and collects the results of the research conducted by the author Schiavi and the students of the IULM University Leonardo Rossetti and Gabrielle Siciliano, in the Corriere della Sera archives, the Archiginnasio Library of Bologna, the Passerini Landi Library of Piacenza, the Ricordi Historical Archive, the Civic Collection of Bertarelli Prints, the Sormani Library and the Teatro alla Scala, of Milan. “A multifaceted and eclectic figure like that of Illica, capable of combining the activity of journalist and political activist with that of playwright and author of librettos for the opera house, is today of extraordinary relevance. If only because he reminds us that the hybridization of knowledge, transdisciplinarity and the ability to relate different languages." – explains Canova.

A meeting-debate

On Saturday 8 July, during the meeting-debate, the author Giangiacomo Schiavi will talk to Gianni Canova, Carlo Fontana and Massimo strong> Baucia, Curator of the Ancient Fund of the Passerini-Landi Library, who provided valuable contributions to the text, on the extraordinary talent of Illica, a forerunner of modern times.