Summer 2010

 

DESPATCHES

 

 

Sagra dello Stocco

 

Every August 9 on the eve of ferragosto, the Italian summer holidays, fish aficionados from around the world travel to Mammola, Reggio Calabria, for the Sagra dello Stocco or stockfish festival. Like many Mediterranean food festivals, this sagra includes traditional dancing, music and the perennial balli dei giganti – a parade through town with larger-than life figures in medieval costume carried aloft by townspeople. However, it is the legendary pisci stoccu (in Calabrian dialect), served in traditional terracotta pans, that people clamour for and celebrate in the Piazzetta del Borgo in the centre of town. Traditional maybe, however a host of health benefits accrue from eating pesce stocco (its name in standard Italian). It is low in calories and high in protein. Oil processed from stockfish liver is a source of Vitamin A, D, E and Omega-3 fatty acids. The cod-like aquatic creature, which is actually imported from Norway, is cured as methodically as Parma ham, fine cognac or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and soaked for days in pure water from Calabria’s Aspromonte Mountains.

 

My first experience with the marine delicacy goes back to when I visited my parents’ home town at the age of seven. Too young to be impressed at the time, as an adult I have since come to appreciate both the taste of the food and the significance of the tradition being celebrated. Pesce stocco is a staple of Good Friday, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, but can be enjoyed all year round. Some serving examples: insalata di stocco, bucatini con stocco, frittelle e zeppole di stocco, stocco arrostito and, of course, the celebrated stocco con patate, olive, pomodoro e pepperoncino.

 

Maria Luisa Ierfino

 

 

Alberto Gazale Sings Boccanegra

 

Alberto Gazale, the young yet accomplished baritone who stepped into the international operatic limelight ten years ago under Riccardo Muti’s baton, held the title role in Opéra de Montréal’s rendition of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, a dark and fascinating melodrama set in late medieval Genoa. The performance was met with enthusiastic reviews and nary an empty seat at Place des Arts. The Sardinian-Veronese baritone held centre stage with authority and a well-rounded and powerful voice. I caught up with him at the end of his Montreal tour.

 

“My Sardinia has an ancient love for the arts and culture,” says Gazale. “We gave birth to great writers, scholars poets and painters. I grew up in a family of artists who have always fuelled my artistic vocation. My first love was painting, then architecture and literature; then, one day, music. It was love at first sight! When my first voice teacher heard my voice for the first time, he almost fell off his chair! He was the one who forced me to study hard and embrace this career. If today this is my life, I owe it to him.

 

“I do not mean to sound rhetorical,” continues Maestro Gazale, “but I will bring back truly wonderful memories. At first I was a little worried – oddly enough I do not like to travel. But once in Montreal, I felt great and I found friendly, helpful and very capable people. Everyone was always smiling! And what a superlative audience! I will never forget it. A love is born!”

  Accenti DESPATCHES Sagra dello Stocco - Alberto Gazale Sings Boccanegra - Wop-Pow-Wow

 

 

Alberto Mario Delogu

 

 

Wop-Pow-Wow

 

Wop-Pow-Wow is Angelo Finaldi’s latest project, a daring and bewitching trip into the Italian roots of an atypical musician. With this CD, Finaldi fuses Italian musical tradition with the rest of the world. Finaldi’s music keeps the grace and sensuality of its Italian origins, but becomes intertwined with countless other styles such as hip-hop, blues, folk, reggae, jazz and funk. “This CD,” says Finaldi, “is the Mafia and the Vatican, pizza and spaghetti, opera and Casanova, Amerigo Vespucci and the Zamboni, paparazzi, Sinatra and more…”

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