12th May 2015
Howard Assembly Room – 1st May 2015

An evening of Italian culture was had by all at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, in the form of the spoken word, music and film.

Coordinated by Italian at the University of Leeds, the ongoing programme of events aims to bring a flavour of the region to Leeds, Yorkshire and the North of England.

Following the pre-concert talk, Sardinian-born folk singer Elena Piras arrived on stage to rapturous applause. Elena moved to the UK when she was 18 and in 2006 moved to Edinburgh and then Lerwick, Shetland, where her set begins tonight in the form of The Burnin’ of Auchendoon, Jock Stewart and Puirt-a-beul, a song recorded by the likes of Julie Fowlis and Capercaillie.

It’s clear that Elena has been inspired by her new home, though she did throw in the odd surprise or two in The Last Thing On My Mind by Tom Paxton and Ave Maria. Elena has the sweetest of voices and whether accompanying herself on acoustic guitar or singing a cappella, she delivered on all fronts and captivated her audience.

The evening culminated in a showing of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Red Desert (Il deserto rosso), his first in colour, and filmed in Sardinia in 1964. Starring Monica Vitti, whom you may remember from the English language film Modesty Blaise, and a dubbed into Italian Richard Harris (This Sporting Life), Red Desert tells the brooding tale of a woman unhappy with her mundane life in the modern world. Set against the backdrop of industrial landscapes, the film is very reminiscent in mood and pace to Roman Polanski’s Repulsion and not to everyone’s taste.

Written by Kevin Petch

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