As part of the 2007 Italian Week in the Illawarra, the Illawarra Folk Club Inc and the Illawarra Association of Teachers of Italian presented a screening of an Italian silent film "Dall'Italia all'Australia" (From Italy to Australia). The movie shows the voyage from Italy to Australia in 1924, of the SS Regina d'Italia (the Queen of Italy).
The film was made in 1924 by Italian cinematographer Angelo Drovetti. But the true magic of the evening was the way in which it was presented by our host for the night, David De Santi, with a stunning musical ensemble, lead by the musical superstar Kavisha Mazella, with Irine Vela and the "Viaggiatori" (the Voyagers) - David De Santi, Bob McInnes and Mark Holder-Keeping.
Bob McInnes is a Robertson local, and is a well-known folk musician, though I am reliably informed that his family migrated from the Isle of Skye, (not Italy).
Kavisha was the vocalist for the entire evening, and she sang beautifully, mostly in Italian, with occasional interludes in English. Many of the songs she sang were familiar, presumably traditonal Italian songs, but I suspect that she included a number of her own compositions as well.
Kavisha gained national attention with a documentary about the Fremantle Women's Choir, entitled "Le Gioie delle Donne" (The joys of the women) which screened on the ABC in 1993.
The Empire Cinema, in Bowral, showed this wonderful silent movie (thanks to Richard Ruhfus), and the room was packed, with extra seats brought in.
It was a delightful musical evening.
Kavisha's biography, and her discography, and furthcoming "gigs" are all listed on her website. She is one of Australia's outstanding musicians, and has worked on a series of productions focussing on the experience of migrants to Australia, including a brief but very touching story/play I saw presented in Canberra (at Gorman House theatre) two years ago, recounting the experiences of refugees in Australia.
The movie was brought to Australia by Tony De Bolfo, a journalist and author who researched the history of a particular group of migrants to Australia, including his own uncle, who migrated to Australia on the "SS Re d'Italia" (the King of Italy), the sister ship to the star of this movie. Tony wrote the history of this group of migrants, and published it as: "In Search of Kings". It was while researching his story that Tony came across reference to this Movie, which he tracked down in Milan, and arranged to buy the rights to its screening in Australia.
Further screening of this event will be held in:
Gerringong, Friday 25th, at 8:00PM
City Diggers Club, Wollongong, at 2:00PM, Saturday 26th
City Diggers Club, Wollongong, at 7:30PM, Saturday 26th (This will be a concert/party to open Italian Week in the Illawarra).
Anita's Theatre, Thirroul, at 6:00PM, Sunday 27th. (Final Concert/Party)
Acknowledgements: Poster and photo of Kavisha come from the Illawarra Folk Club's web page, promoting these musical events as part of Italian Week.