By Eric Shultz
Hot-Blooded Italians and Cultural Cold Warriors: notes for a poltical biography of Gian Carlo Menotti
The first part of this series looked at themes and structures that define Gian Carlo Menotti’s 1963 comic opera The Last Savage – whose revival was a smash hit in the Santa Fe Opera’s 2011 season – as an example of fascist culture. It also followed the figure of “the modern savage” back to modernist primitivism and a pioneer of fascistic values, novelist D. H. Lawrence. I concluded the first installment by suggesting that Lawrence’s influence, specifically among the cultural elite of New Mexico in association with Mabel Dodge Luhan in Taos, prepared the soil – so to speak – both for the eventual founding of the Santa Fe Opera and for its institutional values in support of productions such as Menotti’s fascist revue. But the 2011 Savage was also Santa Fe Opera’s homage to Menotti the man, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth. In this second part of my series I take us away from New Mexico temporarily to look at the composer’s life and politics.
When it came
It has been remarked that if fascism comes to the United States it will take the guise of an anti-fascist movement.
—G. W. Allport1
This epigraph is one of several variations on the theme of fascism coming to America. These include Sinclair Lewis’s famous though obvious “it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Among the more recent is this one by Alex Cockburn, which might resonate with certain La Jicarita readers:
In my view fascism mostly crosses the threshold these days wrapped in Green clothing, with a thousand summary edicts, which people gloomily strain to read by the pallid glimmer of the new, mercury-filled light bulbs. . . .2
Indeed, one way that fascism happens is when people believe that an emergency – economic, social, or even ecological – requires extraordinary measures, and by embracing those measures they accept their own degradation and destruction. I have a serious problem, however, with Allport’s version. Instead of “if fascism comes,” he would have been truer to history had he said,”when fascism came.” The Axis was an emergency the United States took extraordinary measures to oppose, measures of the most fascistic kind, from placing our own citizens in concentration camps, to using weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations abroad. Fascism came to the United States, and it came in the cause of anti-fascism.
Fascism wrapped in anti-fascist trappings describes The Last Savage author Gian Carlo Menotti. But to appreciate his type more fully, let us first review the prototype, Menotti’s compatriot, conductor Arturo Toscanini. The dean of American music historians, Berkeley professor Richard Taruskin, explains Toscanini’s politics in his six-volume Oxford History of Western Music. He begins by quoting a 1931 memo from Mussolini instructing the foreign service to give Italy’s image an extreme makeover, changing it from “the eternal tenor . . . for the entertainment of others,” to one evoking the ruthless militarism of imperial Rome. “I prescribe that from now on, no favor be shown in any way to musical initiatives – operas, vocal recitals, concerts or musical soirées – and that they be treated icily, ” il Duce told his diplomats abroad. But his edict was not absolute. “Exceptions will be made for symphony orchestras, whose performances give an idea of collective group discipline.”3 One conductor was already maximizing the “collective group discipline” of the symphony, the dictatorial Toscanini.
An early joiner of the Fascist movement, Toscanini also personified many aspects of its ethos. “Musicians who played under him, and who were subject to summary dismissal,” explains Taruskin,
experienced a veritable reign of terror that is documented not only in anecdotes but in recordings that were surreptitiously made of Toscanini’s appalling outbursts of temper. Toscanini justified his behavior precisely the way political dictators do, by claiming that the ends justify the means. . . . Only the strictest hierarchy of command could achieve the precision results for which Toscanini became famous. . . . But if Mussolini cannot be excused his violations of human rights because he made the trains run on time, is it right to excuse Toscanini’s tyrannical behavior because he made his orchestras play in time. . . ?4
Toscanini did not get along with Mussolini, who had challenged the maestro’s authority at La Scala, insisting he play the Fascist Party anthem before performances and display il Duce’s portrait in the foyer. Taruskin sums up “Toscanini vs. Mussolini” as “the tale of two Duci engaged in a protracted battle of wills.”5
Toscanini had enjoyed great success in the United States, conducting the New York Metropolitan Opera for seven years and the New York Philharmonic for ten. In 1937, having announced his retirement and gone home to Italy, David Sarnoff induced him to direct the NBC Orchestra and he moved back to New York yet again.6 By 1939, the Department of Justice was requiring German and Italian nationals residing in America – “enemy aliens” – to prove themselves disloyal to their native governments or risk lock-up.7 With a wonderful life in America, and under pressure to renounce a dictator toward whom he already had great personal animosity, Toscanini “traded heavily on his anti-Fascist credentials and lent his celebrated name and priceless services to Allied wartime propaganda.”8
Did coming over to the Allies rid Toscanini of his fascistic inclinations? After hearing a 1952 broadcast by the Philharmonia Orchestra, Toscanini told its founder and director Walter Legge, “Your orchestra is the most wonderful English virgin. All she needs to achieve the ultimate perfection is to be raped by a hot-blooded Italian. I will do that for you.”9 Known for telling musicians to be “aristocrats in art,”10 Toscanini chose rape as the metaphor for his concept of noblesse oblige.
Gian Carlo Menotti was Toscanini’s protégé. It was at the maestro’s urging11 – and with his letter of recommendation12 – that Menotti entered the elite Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Later, Toscanini promoted Menotti’s operas13 and even sat as a juror at auditions for Menotti productions.14 At one point Menotti’s biographer refers to Toscanini matter-of-factly as “Menotti’s champion.”15 It would not be surprising for mentor and protégé to share political values, nor is it a foregone conclusion. But in the case of Menotti, we have indications dating back to his childhood.
Among Menotti’s earliest compositions were settings to music of poems by Gabriele d’Annunzio, who invited the boy to play them for him. His mother brought young Giancarlo to nearby Gardone, but the poet was unable to receive them, having recently suffered a fall.16 Here a digression is in order. D’Annunzio was indeed a celebrated poet, but he was also a Fascist pioneer. In the aftermath of WWI, he lead the occupation of Fiume (called Rijeka in present-day Croatia), during which much of Italian Fascism’s theory and style was articulated and rehearsed.17 After the occupation ended, d’Annunzio was in fact pushed, not off a balcony but through a second-story window, under circumstances that remain murky, although the timing just prior to Mussolini’s takeover of the Fascist movement inescapably suggests their notorious rivalry as the motive.18 Menotti’s – and his biographer’s – omission of even the merest mention of d’Annunzio’s towering fascist identity is consistent with the sanitization already remarked in relation to D. H. Lawrence. “The fact was,” the biographer states, “d’Annunzio’s stormy love life had caused one of his mistresses to push the poet off his balcony. . . .”19 As the uncritical consumer of stereotypes would readily agree, so it goes with those hot-blooded Italians.
In the course of this project, I have often gotten the sense that fascists participate in a kind of “epistemology of the closet” in which knowledge of their convictions is simultaneously revealed and denied in the ambiguous space of an open secret.20 Admitting a youthful devotion to d’Annunzio, while keeping silent about anything besides music and poetry, could be a case in point. By the way, Menotti never did meet “the poet,” but he did develop a friendship later in life with another poet, on which more will be said in due time.
A different episode involves fascism openly. As this constitutes the clearest statement in print on Menotti’s politics, I will quote his biographer at length:
Soon after the  Metropolitan production of Amelia Goes to the Ball, Menotti received an invitation from the Italian minister of culture, Dino Alfieri, to come to Rome to discuss the opera’s Italian premiere…. “I saw Alfieri, who couldn’t have been more cordial and enthusiastic. He told me that he wanted to launch me in Italy. As an Italian with a great American success, I would now be hailed in my homeland. I kept thanking him profusely. Toward the end of our meeting, he said, ‘There is only one thing. You must join the Fascist party.’ This I absolutely refused to do, as I had no interest whatever in Mussolini or his politics. As a result, orders were given to the press to ‘kill’ my opera when it was given in San Remo…. After that my music became taboo in Italy – at least throughout the Fascist regime.”21
Menotti fetishizes his refusal to join the Fascist Party as an absolute, while he trumpets his eagerness to collaborate with Mussolini’s regime in any way short of formal Party membership. He also seems careful not to say anything against fascism per se, restricting his disinterest to “Mussolini and his politics,” as one might expect of someone who came early to a current of the movement that Mussolini later overwhelmed. If Menotti’s most searing indictment of Fascist politics is that they didn’t interest him, how interested can we be in proclaiming him a democrat? At most, his story tells why the Mussolini government was anti-Menotti, as if that made Menotti anti-Fascist by some law of reciprocity.
The story Menotti told his biographer may have been the one he told the Justice Department when, like Toscanini and the other resident Italian and German nationals, he had to place an unbridgeable chasm between himself and the Axis. But on this matter, his friendly biographer is curiously terse:
For his part, Menotti duly registered as an “enemy alien,” but was saved from internment through the intervention of his friend Francis Biddle, the Attorney General.22
If Menotti required such high-level intervention to save him from internment, perhaps his story impressed his inquisitors as much as it does me. Or perhaps there was more in his dossier than has come down in the published sources. This is one of many points where the lack of a serious biography is felt.
That Menotti abandoned the Axis deserves our recognition, but as in the case of his champion, that choice cannot be equated with the expurgation of small-f fascism from his beliefs and his psyche. The richly fascistic themes in The Last Savage from over a decade later still fit hand-in-glove with a life devoted to fascist idols and mentors such as d’Annunzio and Toscanini, and the force of his refusal to join the Fascist Party must be measured against his grateful eagerness to benefit and profit from it: “I kept thanking him” – him being Mussolini’s culture minister, Alfieri – “profusely.”
Some like it cold
The principles and ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are for export and . . . are the heritage of men everywhere. We should appeal to the fundamental urges of all men which I believe are the same for the farmer in Kansas and for the farmer in the Punjab.
—Raymond Allen, Director, Psychological Strategy Board23
Of the sources I have consulted, none mentions Menotti doing anything to assist the Allied cause during WWII. But after the war, as American policy shifted from anti-Fascism to anti-Communism, his name begins to appear in curious contexts. Of special interest here, editor Melvin Lasky, a key player in the CIA’s front organization, the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), considered Menotti a go-to guy for articles suitable for Cold War propaganda.24 This section’s epigraph, a quote from a CCF overseer, reveals a telling Cold War article of faith: humans have a fundamental urge to love America. In his opera The Last Savage, Menotti examines the fundamental urges of a Punjabi farmer who comes to love one particular American. As the evidence in this section will show, it is no accident that Menotti’s opera reads like a Cold War parable.
In the world of the Cold War, while the Soviets had no scruples about using force to discipline their Eastern European satellites, America’s democratic image required its relations with Western Europe to be – or at least to appear to be – the voluntary alliance of peoples with shared aspirations and values. As both superpowers courted Western Europe like rival suitors, America was at a distinct disadvantage in one respect: by European standards, we are cowpokes and hayseeds. Or at least we were widely perceived that way. More than the Department of State, it was the newborn CIA that understood how America needed to win the European intelligentsia’s respect as a cultural equal, if it hoped to be heard on other matters. A multitude of initiatives – overt in execution though often organized and funded covertly – began springing up with the objective of proving America’s artistic and intellectual worth. Essentially an exercise in psychological warfare, historians refer to this complex project as the cultural Cold War.25
Among the first offensives in the cultural Cold War was a 1952 Congress for Cultural Freedom festival of the arts in Paris. Organized by Nicolas Nabokov, the cousin of novelist Vladimir but a composer rather than a writer as his English prose may suggest, this festival would be:
. . . the first close collaboration of top-ranking American artistic organizations in Europe with European ones and also of American artistic production on a footing of complete equality with European artistic production. Hence it is bound to have an extremely beneficial all-round effect upon the cultural life of the free world by showing the cultural solidarity and interdependence of European and American civilization. If successful, it will help to destroy the pernicious European myth (successfully cultivated by the Stalinists) of American cultural inferiority.26
Those whom Nabokov recruited for the American contingent in his festival included mainstream types such as Leontyne Price,27Adagio for Strings composer (and Menotti’s life partner) Samuel Barber, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York City Ballet and the Museum of Modern Art. The list also included Aaron Copeland, Virgil Thompson, and Gertrude Stein, figures of nonconformist and even left-leaning connotation. But the very first person Nabokov approached and recruited was his old friend and fellow White Russian, the outspokenly pro-Fascist, anti-Semitic, and staunchly anti-Communist Igor Stravinsky (who appears in a later section as the Santa Fe Opera’s godfather).28
Assuming the Soviets were more likely to persuade folks with leftist sympathies, the CIA placed a premium on courting and supporting what came to be known as the Non-Communist Left or NCL as a way of eroding support for the Kremlin.29 Today, an English Labor Party that joins a Republican U.S. administration in racist wars of aggression, and a Greek Socialist Party that sides with finance capital against its own impoverished people, give credence to a CIA part in the domestication the European Left. But however successful it had been at luring leftists away from their purpose, the CIA’s natural ally in the Cold War was always the Right, and it welcomed former Fascists, Nazis, and their collaborators, with a warm embrace. As we shall see in a later section, the Cold War was an occasion for U.S. power to rehabilitate fascists whom circumstances had made into enemies but who were otherwise seen as congenial pro-Capitalist and anti-Communist fellows. The Paris festival’s participants – ranging from dishwater-leftist Copeland to rabidly right-wing Stravinsky – represented a typical CCF mixture. In such company, a Menotti could thrive.
It seemed to be his own spontaneous brain child. But doubts about its unique authorship notwithstanding, Menotti came to spearhead the perfect cultural Cold War project. Although not identified in the works I’ve consulted as a known CIA front, Menotti’s Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy is evidently a species in the cultural Cold War genus. Founded in 1958, the “Two Worlds” in its name are the United States and Italy, the New World and the Old, and the festival served to showcase America’s arts along with European collaboration, exactly the way Nabokov had designed the earlier Paris festival. But Spoleto, as the festival came to be known, would carry out its Nabokovian plan on an ongoing basis.
At its launch, the Festival thanked its numerous individual and corporate backers, and none more prestigious than the Ford Foundation.30 According to the cultural Cold War’s leading historian, Frances Stonor Saunders, it was under the presidency of John McCloy, a Wall Street lawyer, bank executive, and former Assistant Secretary of War, that the Ford Foundation
. . . became officially engaged as one of those organizations the CIA was able to mobilize for political warfare against Communism. The foundation’s archives reveal a raft of joint projects. The East European Fund, a CIA front in which George Kennan played a prominent role, got most of its money from the Ford Foundation. . . . Under a major grant . . . the Institute of Contemporary Art . . . expanded its program in 1958. . . . Benefitting . . . were Herbert Read, Salvador Madariaga, Stephen Spender, [etc.]. . . . This was in effect an extension of the work of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, which itself was one of the Ford Foundation’s largest grantees, receiving $7 million by the early 1960’s.31
If the Festival of Two Worlds had been a CIA project, funding would likely have come through a respected foundation such as Ford, in order to provide the front with “deniability” about its ties to the U.S. spy agency. But a different source of Spoleto Festival funding makes such conjecture, however plausible, unneeded.
Before managing to enlist reputable foundations as money conduits for covert operations, the CIA had created several fake foundations whose exclusive purpose was to distribute the Agency’s abundant bucks in the guise of private philathropy. Foremost among these financial fronts was the Farfield Foundation, whose report for the period January 1960 through December 1963 lists the Festival of Two Worlds as the recipient of grants for “general expenses and the participation of American students, and for the expenses of the poet Ted Hughs.”32 Saunders seems to interpret this record as evidence of Farfield funding a genuine (i.e. non-CIA) arts project, to make itself appear to be a genuine philanthropic institution. While her explanation is plausible, I believe the truth may be less complicated. Saunders has conducted extensive research on all aspects of the cultural Cold War, and her opinion deserves consideration. By comparison, I have carried out relatively little investigation, but a large part of my researches have focused on Menotti. If his Spoleto Festival’s Nabokovian character seems obvious to me, this is thanks to two things: the specific details I have uncovered about Menotti and his projects, and the bigger picture I’ve learned about from Saunders and other historians. Had Spoleto been a focus of her research rather than something glimpsed in her peripheral vision, her interpretation of its Farfield support might well have been more straightforward. As far as I’m concerned, having established that the Festival of Two Worlds waddled and quacked like a CIA duck, to learn that it was funded by Farfield fits the (flat and rounded) bill.
Spoleto participants represent the typical CCF range of political tendencies. Although key collaborators such as director Luchino Visconti once moved in socialist circles – making him not so much the Left as the Left’s leftovers – the Festival’s existence as a creature of the Right has never been seriously in doubt. During the first season, Menotti managed to spend more money than he had raised. Before the season’s end, the Italian government – a government still controlled by the right-wing Christian Democrats who had beaten the Communists in the 1948 election with covert help from the CIA in “America’s first successful act of political Cold Warfare”33 – announced a bailout that assured a second season (an incisive critic’s take on the first season makes abundantly clear why the Italian Right would adore the festival, as we shall see presently).34
Pitched as a springboard for launching careers, the Festival put its own American spin on the first season with an “elaborate” (read expensive) printed program aimed to arouse a tingle of cultural freedom. “Our only merit, perhaps,” the brochure modestly brags,
is to have discovered a peaceful and beautiful corner of the world where young artists may express themselves freely, unhampered by political creeds, preoccupation with aesthetic fashions, or by autocratic directors.35
The passage paints Spoleto as a sweet land of liberty, but was it true? Was this what Menotti stood for? Could I have gotten him so wrong?
Hold on . . . an astute observer saw the reality of Spoleto as something very different. Reviewing the first season for the authoritative English journal Opera, Cynthia Jolly found the production of Verdi’s Macbeth to be excellent, and she offered this explanation:
Menotti grew up in the heyday of Toscanini’s reign at La Scala and has rightly judged that the moment is ripe for reasserting the importance of group solidarity and inspired leadership in individualist and star-ridden Italy.36
“Inspired leadership . . .” Isn’t that what some Italians honored with the title Duce? And amid rampant individualism, how is “group solidarity” reasserted if not by applying the “collective group discipline” that Mussolini extolled and Toscanini exacted? According to Jolly, the reality of Season One was diametrically opposite the cultural freedom puffery of the brochure. More precisely, she seems to imply that self-indulgent free expression is a sickness for which Camp Spoleto offered the Toscanini treatment as a cure.
“Nostalgia” in Italy “for Toscanini’s ideals” was “great,” in Jolly’s view, and Macbeth conductor Thomas Schippers “succeeded in bringing this nostalgia to the surface.” In so doing, I might add, he also succeeded in fulfilling Nabokov’s hope for the 1952 Paris festival, the hope of reversing anti-American prejudice. As Jolly sums up:
Critical circles at the first performance were buzzing. ‘Here is a sign of the universality of art: a young American letting us hear our own lost traditions of Verdi, and giving us back his own faith in Italian melodrama.’37
By enhancing America’s cultural prestige in Europe, while awakening anti-Communist ideals (which happened to be Toscanini’s fascist ideals warmed over, but no biggy), Spoleto would have struck the Dulles brothers in Washington as proof that the cultural Cold War’s strategy was sound (read more about Foster and Allen Dulles in an upcoming section). And it would have impressed the re-branded Fascists in Italy’s Christian Democratic government as a project worth supporting. Bravo, Giancarlo! Bravissimo!
Although Menotti had taken up America’s fight in the Cold War with his Spoleto festival, and had received CIA money for his efforts, by the 1960s the American public was growing cool to his operatic offerings (while keeping a warm place in its heart for his perennial Christmas crowd pleaser, Amahl and the Night Visitors). And like the title character of The Last Savage,38 Menotti was growing disenchanted with America. As the art song composer and celebrated diarist Ned Rorem observed in the 1970s, Menotti “recently wailed long and loud” in the New York Times “about the endlessly derisive tone of his critical reception.” Not the least derided was his 1964 Metropolitan Savage. “Indeed,” Rorum continues, “so discouraged is he with his adopted country that at sixty-three he plans to expatriate himself.”39
Menotti abandoned the United States in the early 1970s and bought a manorial mansion in southern Scotland called Yester House. On a multi-week visit to interview the maestro and review papers for his biography, John Gruen recalled arriving:
A tall, prominent gate, flanked by two small gate-houses and topped by an elaborate golden crest, gave entry into a private grounds. . . . ‘Welcome to Yester House,’ said Menotti with a broad grin. . . . The car stopped in front of a porte cochère. Awaiting us at the entrance stood two dark-skinned young men in uniform (two imports from Ceylon, I later learned). The boys bowed, took my bags, and disappeared. . . . The cook would take my breakfast order, and one of the young Ceylonese servants would bring it up on a tray. . . . Our luncheons, served by one of the elegantly uniformed Ceylonese boys, were not eaten in the main dining room, but in a smaller one. . . .40
Menotti had created a luxurious private world for himself in which dark-skinned, uniformed “boys” from South Asia waited on him hand and foot, bowing when indicated. Is this a relevant fact in light of which to evaluate his representations of India and Indians in The Last Savage? Schools of criticism differ regarding contextual interpretation. But, if my presence at a performance is meant to pay homage to the composer as a person, which the Santa Fe Opera intended by mounting their production to honor the 100th anniversary of Menotti’s birth, then knowing who he was and what he stood for must be my responsibility, a responsibility that I have met perhaps too late.
Coda: apart from music, drama, dance, film, and the plastic arts, the Festival of Two Worlds celebrated poetry. In the CIA’s cultural arsenal, an especially keen-edged weapon was Encounter, a journal the Congress for Cultural Freedom published in London. English writer Stephen Spender co-edited Encounter with American Irving Kristol.41 But Spender also co-directed the poetry component at Spoleto, and he succeeded in attracting outstanding poets of his day. Allen Ginsberg read there in 1967 and was promptly arrested for obscenity. As director of the Festival and Ginsberg’s host, Menotti did nothing – niente – zilch – nada, while one of the participants, poet Alfonso Gatto, in genuine defense of cultural freedom, got his American counterpart out of jail.42 Consistent with the larger CIA strategy that Spender wittingly or unwittingly implemented, the participating poets represented a broad political spectrum and over the years included such lions of the Left as Pablo Neruda and Pier Paolo Pasolini. But the poet whom Menotti ventured personally to recruit – and with whom he claimed to have made a deep friendship43 – was the aged, Venice-based American expatriate, the pro-Fascist anti-Semite Ezra Pound. Pound became notorious as a propagandist for the Axis during WWII but, perhaps surprisingly, he brings our twisted tale of culture and fascism back to Santa Fe, as the next installment will reveal.
Notes to Part 2:
1. Allport, Gordon W. The Nature of Prejudice. Garden City, New Jersey: Doubleday 1958, p. 391.
2. Cockburn, Alexander. “Is Fascism Coming to America? And if So, Dressed as What?” Counterpunch, September 16-18, 2011. http://www.counterpunch.org.
3. Taruskin, Richard. The Oxford History of Western Music, Vol. 4, p. 751. Special thanks to my nephew, Peter Shultz, for introducing me to the works of Taruskin and other leading musicologists and music historians. May he be held blameless for any use I make of such sources.
4. Ibid., p. 753.
5. Ibid., p. 752.
6. Ibid., p. 753.
7. See Richard Drinnon’s Keeper of the Concentration Camps: Dillon S. Myer and American Racism. Berkeley: University of California Press 1987, pp. 30-31. After Pearl Harbor, U.S. officials allowed racism to dictate a policy toward U.S. citizens and residents of Japanese ancestry that differed from the approach toward Europeans. In the view of Western Defense Command General John L. DeWitt, Japanese Americans were inscrutable: “There is no way to determine their loyalty.” In conversation with Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, DeWitt explained: “. . .about the Germans and Italians . . . you don’t have to worry about them as a group. You have to worry about them purely as certain individuals. Out here, Mr. Secretary, a Jap is a Jap. . . .” As a result of these and similar attitudes, it became the rule rather than the exception for the U.S. government to confine residents and citizens of Japanese ancestry in concentration camps.
7. Taruskin, Richard. Op. Cit., p. 753.
8. Jefferson, Alan. Elisabeth Schwartzkopf. Boston: Northeastern University Press 1995, p.124.
9. Taruskin, Richard. Op. Cit., p. 753.
10. Gruen, John. Menotti: a biography. New York: Macmillan 1978, p. 14.
11. Ibid., p. 16.
12. Ibid., pp. 65-66.
13. Ibid., p. 96. Leading lady in numerous Menotti opera productions, Patricia Neway recalled: “These auditions were quite petrifying because the audience was always very select. I remember at one of them I had Toscanini sitting under my nose.”
14. Ibid., p. 110.
15 Ibid., p. 29.
16 Anonymous. “Annunzio, Gabriele d’.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Chicago 1960, Vol. 2, p. 6.
17. The d’Annunzio section on the Italian Wikipedia site offers numerous details, including a purported photograph of the house and window.
18. Gruen, p. 29.
19. I brazenly lift this phrase from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and insist that my breezy use of it here does not pretend to equal the full concept she expounds in her book by that title.
20. Gruen, pp. 37-38.
21. Gruen, p. 52.
22. Saunders, Frances Stonor. The Cultural Cold War: the CIA and the world of arts and letters. New York: The New Press 1999, p. 150.
23. Ibid., p. 217: “Lasky argued consistently for [Congress for Cultural Freedom journals to have] a deeper commitment to States-side themes (Eudora Welty should be approached to do a ‘De-Segregation’ piece; someone should write about ‘the Great American Boom’; Gian Carlo Menotti could do something on the theme of ‘highbrow and lowbrow’), and increased emphasis on Soviet affairs.”
24. In this young field of study, Saunders’s book (see note 22 above) is the classic, but many of the same projects and personalities – plus important others – are studied from a somewhat different vantage point in Hugh Wilford’s The Mighty Wurlitzer: how the CIA played America. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press 2008.
25. Saunders, p. 113. Emphasis original.
26. Ibid., p. 118. Nabokov claimed to have launched Price’s career (Paris festival co-organizer Albert Donnelly, Jr. refers to her as “Mr. Nabokov’s protégé”), a claim also made by Elizabeth, sister of CIA covert operations director Frank Wisner: according to Saunders, Ms. Price “referred to herself as the Wisners’ ‘chocolate sister’.”
27. Ibid., p. 115.
28. Ibid., pp. 62-64.
29. Jolly, Cynthia. “The Festival of Two Worlds.” Opera. (England): vol. 9 (September 1958), p. 553.
30. Saunders, p. 142.
31. Ibid., p. 357. In The Cultural Cold War, Saunders treats of the Farfield Foundation extensively, as she does of the peculiar Julius “Junky” Fleishman, actual heir to the eponymous yeast and gin fortunes, a secret agent wannabe who acted as Farfield’s director and pretended to be the source of its funds.
32. Ibid., p. 239.
33. Jolly, p. 553.
34. Gruen, pp. 131-32.
35. Jolly, p. 554.
36. Ibid., p. 554.
37. In a 1963 interview promoting his new opera, Menotti said “I am the last savage.” A. Parinaud, “‘Io sono l’ultimo selvaggio.'” Musica d’oggi 6, 6 (1963): 262-265. In Donald L. Hixon’s Gian Carlo Menotti: a bio-biography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishers 2000, p. 131.
38. Rorem, Ned. An Absolute Gift. New York: Simon and Schuster 1978, p. 65.
39. Gruen, pp. ix-xi.
40. As a major force in the cultural Cold War, Encounter receives attention throughout Saunders’ book, but is the focus of its Chapter 12, “Magazine ‘X’,” pp. 165-89. Likewise Spender, who after the CCF’s cover was blown claimed never to have known he was working for the CIA (pp. 424-25), is treated extensively.
41. Corriere del Mezzogiorno, August 19, 2009: According to Fernanda Pivano: “Alfonso Gatto… Era stato l’unico a Spoleto al teatro Caio Melisso ad intervenire in difesa di Allen Ginsberg, cuando l’avevano arrestato per oscenita.” The incident is also documented with notes and a photograph at http://www.allenginsberg.org.
42. Gruen, pp. 170-72.