Standing in line, hoping we’d get in, we got the last two seats in MOMA’s Theater 3 for Big Deal on Madonna Street. Its Italian title is I Soliti Ignoti (The Usual Suspects ). It was directed by Mario Monicelli and had a stellar cast: Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastrioanni, Toto, (the beloved Neopolitan wise guy of Italian movies), Renato Salvatori, Claudia Cardinale. And, of course, post-war Rome. The movie dates from 1958 and shows the urban poor scrabbling to survive in gritty Rome. Italy had an awful war: a maelstrom of individual bravery, stoicism, ridicule, suffering, fleeing. and famine. In I Soliti Ignoti there’s a scene in which the inept thieves gobble food they’ve discovered in the house they’re burglarizing. It reminded me of Sophia Lorne eating ravinously in the 1960 masterpiece, Two Women set in the time of World War 2.
Pouring out of a packed, usually quiet restaurant, on Thursday night we went to Carnegie Hall. The NYC buzz was in high gear. Joyce DiDonato, the mezzo soprano, presented In War and Peace: Harmony through Music. As we entered the Hall, we saw Ms. DiDonato sitting stationary on the stage, so still that I thought she was a statue. In addition to her singing there was interpretive dancing by Manuel Palazzo. As light designs shimmered across the stage, Ms. DiDonato, representing War and Peace, sang sections, from among others, Handel and Purcell. Her question to the enthusiastic audience was, In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?
Graphic Lessons: Recent widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man, deals with the only witness to the stabbing, a troubled nine year old, befriends a lying seventeen year old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.