Associazione Di Meo Vini ad Arte
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    Calendar 2023

    Napoli - Siviglia: ...Nápoles tan excelente,
    por Sevilla solamente se puede dejar

My "Midnight in Seville"

This year's presentation of the Di Meo Calendar, promoted and produced every year by the Cultural Association “Di Meo vini ad arte” and now in its 21st edition, will be held in Seville, the capital of Andalusia, the westernmost point in Europe of the Crown of Spain, of which Naples was the eastern shore.

While Naples represents the place from which the Italian Renaissance spread into the Iberian Peninsula, Seville is the gateway from which Spain and the whole of Europe made contact with las Indias.

While leaving it to the scholars whose essays will accompany Massimo Listri's photos in the Calendar to explore various aspects of the relationship between Naples and Seville, I would like to focus on two more personal reasons that led me to choose this city.

A few years ago, I was enchanted by Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, in which the protagonist, an aspiring American writer of little talent, visiting modern-day Paris, travels to 1920s Paris every night at midnight, where he meets, among others, two great American writers of the past: Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.

In the real world, it was Gertrude Stein, Picasso's friend and admirer, who advised Hemingway to go to Spain, a country which, despite being the antithesis of the very modern Paris of the Twenties, the home of every artistic and literary avant-garde, was a refuge and an inspiration for that “lost generation” that had converged on Paris from every corner of the world.

Spain - a somewhat wild and enchanted country - charmed artists and restless spirits, fleeing from memories of the First World War and themselves, with its unbroken traditions,. It is the place that inspired Hemingway's Fiesta and Death in the Afternoon, books which made me fall in love with Spain so many years ago and dream of knowing it as it was then.

Real Alcázar
Palacio de las Dueñas

Of course, that can remain nothing more than a dream.

Modern Spain, which I have travelled through many times, and which has a thousand merits, no longer had anything to do with the Spain travelled by those of the “lost generation”, and which fascinated me as a young man.


Thanks to an invitation from some friends to spend a few days in Seville in April, I found myself, just like the main character in Woody Allen's film - and without having to wait until midnight - projected for a few hours into the world of yesterday.

The Feria de Abril is a real Fiesta like the one in Pamplona narrated by Hemingway. It takes place in a large square where, every year, a genuine fictitious city is reborn, with an entrance gate, which changes every time, and wooden houses that are dismantled and stored for the following year. People meet up, play music, eat traditional food and drink in a festive atmosphere that involves the whole town.

Those who go to the recinto ferial - the big area of the city which comprises numerous streets and squares in Seville - do so on foot, on horseback or in a carriage, wearing elegant clothes reminiscent of Flamenco costumes, sometimes even with just a single detail.

The particular charm of this tradition is the blending of the public and private dimensions of celebration, an aspect that the individualism of the modern world has stripped away from us, perhaps even making us reject it. I don't think there is a tradition like it in Italy, except possible the festival of Piedigrotta in Naples, which has lost its connotation of uniting the sacred and the profane over the years.

The highlight of the party was my participation in a bullfight that I never imagined I would take part in but which I actually found to be absolutely enthralling. When I was flying back to Naples the next day, having hardly slept a wink, I felt as if I had woken up from a dream, after having been dragged by a demon into a past life. This must be the Dionysian dimension that Nietzsche, a great admirer of Bizet's Carmen, a story of women and bullfighters set, as it happens, in Seville, talked about.

And this brings us to the other reason that inspired my choice.

As opera fans are well aware, many of the most famous operas are set in Seville: from Rossini's Barber of Seville, to Beethoven's Fidelio, Bizet's Carmen, The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, both by Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte.

Don Giovanni by Mozart and Da Ponte, while inspired by earlier works by Tirso de Molina, Molière, and other minor authors, is an opera in which contrasts of ideas can be glimpsed in the background, typical of an age of transition such as the second half of the 18th century, in which an entire world is disappearing while only a blurred glimpse of a new one can be seen. This opera, set in a land on the edge of old Europe, is characterised, with all of Mozart's levity, by similar anxieties to those of our own time, suspended between a century that has now ended and one that began only twenty years ago but which seems indecipherable and subjects us to challenges we thought we no longer had to face.

Don Giovanni (Max Slovogt 1912) and Carmen (Edouard Manet 1862)

In the opera, first performed in Prague in 1787, one can clearly distinguish the libertine and illuminist individualism of Don Giovanni, the traditional moral and religious values of Il Commendatore, Don Ottavio and Donna Anna, and a new feeling of unease, albeit expressed by a comic character such as Leporello, which emerges in the famous aria that opens the opera “Notte e giorno faticar/ per chi nulla sa gradir/ ... I want to be a gentleman and I don't want to serve any more ...”, which anticipates the unhappiness and discontent of the working classes that would soon lead to the French Revolution.

With due differences, these are contrasts that still animate our culture today, and which do not always find peaceful settlements based on mutual tolerance.

So the task pursued by our association, and which is perhaps even more difficult today, is not to conceal cultural and idealistic contrasts, but to offer a place to meet and reflect openly on all points of view, uniting cities and peoples rather than dividing them.

Generoso di Meo

Generoso di Meo


Feria de Abril

Real Maestranza