An insensitive Pappano video evokes La dolce vita

An insensitive Pappano video evokes La dolce vita


norman lebrecht

May 04, 2020

Tony Pappano has been conducting members of the Santa Cecilia orchestra from home in a video that is supposed to evoke La dolce vita but succeeds only in rubbing in the inequalities of the present situation.

A truly insensitive idea.



  • V.Lind says:

    Obviously you have not seen La Grande Bellezza, so do not understand its concepts. It won a raft of awards, including the foreign-language Oscar and BAFTA, so it is surprising you do not recognise its star in the out-takes used.

    But what a treat in stire for your isolation!

    Meanwhile, it has nothing to do with “La Dolce Vita.” Just a very romantic, wistful meditation on what we have lost and what we hope for our future.

  • Paul says:

    As the title says, this refers to “La grande bellezze” (not La dolce vita), a film which won an Oscar for Best International Film. The Wikipedia summary seems very apt:

    “The film opens with a quote from Céline’s Journey to the End of the Night: “Traveling is very useful: it makes your imagination work, everything else is just disappointment and trouble. Our journey is entirely imaginary, which is its strength.”[8] After his sixty-fifth birthday, Jep Gambardella, a journalist with a passion for parties and beautiful women, finds himself lost between the nostalgia of the past and the uncertainty of the future. Jep realizes that he has lived superficially: so begins the search for great beauty, between the declining bourgeoisie and the stereotypes of society.”

    And as this film contains music by Arvo Pärt, John Tavener, Henryk Górecki, Georges Bizet, and Francis Poulenc, I expect many of us here might enjoy it.

    • John Kelly says:

      Thank you Paul for the recommendation. You can also be certain that we will hear from all those who did NOT enjoy it………..

  • Bruno Michel says:

    I find this comment totally scandalous. La Grande Bellezza is a profound meditation on life, and on the beauties that lie ahead of us if we want to reach out for them. It is obvious in that video clip, even if one has not seen the movie. The fact that it is the story of an obviously affluent man is neither here nor there. And the Maestro Pappano wanted to make an homage to that beauty as a ray of hope, which is most welcome in our current predicament. How this gesture can possibly be interpreted through a loony-left lens is beyond me; I find that it is outrageous that it could be used to feed an ideological agenda in the current circumstances. Yes indeed, some people live in conditions that make self-isolating and the lockdown more pleasant (but that is not just the wealthy: where do you draw the line? Are you going to point an accusing finger to anyone who has a garden, now, just because some people are locked up in council flats?). Indeed, there are inequalities in mankind, and there always were, but we live in a society which corrects these inequalities more and more, as poor people get so much more help than, say, a century ago. Should we move towards a soviet regime? Should we kill all the rich? Let’s have a good witch-hunt to get rid of all these toffs, shall we? I am amazed that this hatred of the rich still pervades our societies, and that this ideology is still lurking everywhere, obviously on the lookout for any excuse to jump at peoples’ throats, not even hesitating to use such a situation as our current one to ram itself into our lives, morally reprehensible as this may be. I for myself am poor, and have never envied nor hated the rich (unless they engage in criminal activities, but of course communism considers the fact of being rich to be a criminal activity in itself), and such a thought as the one expressed in this post would not have come to my mind while watching this beautiful videoclip.

  • Frankie says:

    Norman, you missed the point. La Grande Bellezza is a sad, nostalgic, beautiful love letter to Rome the City, and it is about lost things in our lives. Nothing to do with La Dolce Vita. I thought that it was a very apposite choice for Pappano and Santa Cecilia.

  • Brian says:

    It reminds me of David Geffen posting Instagram photos from his palatial yacht in the Caribbean.

  • Cavaradossi says:

    I enjoyed it a lot. The ‘Eternal City’ – come what may.

  • Myra waiman says:

    I agree with you Norman. V insensitive but wonderful views of Rome. When will we get there again?…

  • Meraviglioso Respighi !

  • Stuart L. says:

    A splendid video. What’s not to like?

  • R. Brite says:

    I hardly think Norman should be classed with the “loony left” but his commentary does go rather astray, IMO. This seems to me a beautiful tribute to the Accademia’s eternal native city, which I’ve been yearning to return to. In lieu of an actual visit, the video and music go least some way towards fulfilling my longing.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Wrong, Norman, for all the reasons cited by previous commenters.
    You should get out more! (Practicing thoughtful social distancing, of course.)

  • Rob says:

    Is that Respighi on the lagavulin at the start?

  • M2N2K says:

    There is absolutely nothing remotely “insensitive” about this video. It s a beautiful tribute to a fine movie and to a great city.