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Biographer Richard Dyer asserted that Nino Rota’s work with Fellini was among the most celebrated of all director-composer collaborations; spoken of alongside Eisenstein and Prokofiev, Hitchcock and Herrmann, Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone, Spielberg and Williams.
Nino Rota’s Fellini scores define his style, conjuring, from the very first note of each film, the very image of the director and the bizarre and fantastic characters of his world.
After a post-war apprenticeship wring screenplays for Roberto Rossellini, Fellini graduated to direction, at first collaborating with Alberto Lattuada on Variety Lights before embarking on The White Sheik, his first solo production. I Vitelloni followed, a witty portrayal of the life of a group of individuals in a small provincial town on the Romagna coast; a scene providing echoes of Fellini’s own background. Now his domestic breakthrough came with La Strada, which received an enthusiastic reception, both critical and commercial, with memorable performances from the leading players, Anthony Quinn and Giulietta Masina.
In Il Bidone, Fellini’s swindlers are the vitelloni of petty crime, overgrown adolescents who can only dream of bringing off the really big “job”. Nights of Cabiria followed, the travails of a kind of fairy-tale prostitute. More triumph for Giulietta Masina; a hit that completed Fellini’s first creative phase.
In 1960, Fellini achieved international fame with the extraordinary La Dolce Vita, which struck the heart of the establishment. The film’s evocation of 1950s Italian decadence offending church and state who were shocked by the vitality and intensity of Fellini’s vision. The film made a star of Anita Ekberg and coined the term “paparazzo” (a certain type of bothersome photographer) that is still in use today. A “powerfully creative meditation on the inability to create”, Otto E Mezzo finds cinema being used to interpret cinema, as a famous film director (a perfectly nuanced performance by Marcello Mastroianni) fights to make sense of the delirium of actors, producers, intellectuals, technicians that whirl around him. Eight and a Half is the modernist masterpiece of one of the great innovators of film style. It is regarded by many to be Fellini’s greatest achievement.
This presentation comprises the complete original film soundtracks of La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, La Dolce Vita and Otto E Mezzo, a suite of music from I Vitelloni and the main themes from Variety Lights, The White Sheik and Il Bidone, complemented by diegetic and non-diegetic selections from I Vitelloni, La Dolce Vita, Otto E Mezzo, the hallucinogenic Toby Dammit, Amarcord, And The Ship Sails On and Intervisa; the music of Ottorino Respighi that inspired Nino Rota’s famous title music for La Dolce Vita and the Baroque work by Arcangelo Corelli that Fellini had played on set during the filming of La Strada to inspire cast and crew.
LUCI DEL VARIETÀ (VARIETY LIGHTS) (1950)
LO SCEICCO BIANCO (THE WHITE SHEIK) (1952)
I VITELLONI (THE OVERGROWN ADOLESCENTS) (1953)
LA STRADA (1954) (NINO ROTA)
IL BIDONE (THE SWINDLERS) (1955)
LE NOTTI DI CABIRIA (THE NIGHTS OF CABIRIA) (1957) (NINO ROTA)
LE NOTTI DI CABIRIA (CONTINUES)
LA DOLCE VITA (1960) (NINO ROTA)
PINES OF ROME: PINES NEAR A CATACOMB (FRITZ REINER / CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA) (INSPIRATION TO ROTA FOR LA DOLCE VITA: TITOLI DI TESTA)
OTTO E MEZZO (8½) (1962) (NINO ROTA)
SPIRITS OF THE DEAD (SEGMENT “TOBY DAMMIT”) (1968)
AND THE SHIP SAILS ON … (1983)