Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pop culture icons?

No one can explain why it happens, but every so often a pop culture phenomenon surfaces and it’s seemingly everywhere.


Saturday Night Live”?
Twin Peaks”?

And, now, Sacco and Vanzetti?

The two Italian immigrants were executed in 1927 for a murder they may or may not have committed.

It was one of the early “trials of the century,” but the pair had not received much publicity in recent years.

But in just the last two weeks, Sacco and Vanzetti have been the answer to a “Jeopardy question,” mentioned by Jon Stewart BEFORE he came to Tampa and the title subject of documentary filmmaker Peter Miller’s new movie.

And, of course, their story inspired Maestro Anton Coppola to write an opera about them, which will be staged in a special concert presentation on Feb. 17 in Ferguson Hall here at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. The opera had its world premiere in Tampa at TBPAC in 2001.

Miller said he was drawn to their story for many reasons.

“I was drawn to their ideology. They were hardworking and believed in opportunity and idealism,” Miller told Newsweek magazine in the current issue. “I read the amazing letters they wrote to their children from prison and I thought theirs was a story that everyone should know.”

Miller thinks their story still has relevance.

“We are at a time when people have been willing to sacrifice civil liberties to preserve national security, and people have been increasingly anxious about the presence of immigrants in our society, so this story shows the country in a similar time in history,” he said. “There are many parallels that can be drawn to our current struggle with immigration.”

– MichaelK/TBPAC

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