La Prima Donna - Emma Carelli, Licia Maglietta
La Prima Donna – Emma Carelli, Licia Maglietta

La prima donna, the new documentary film by Tony Saccucci starring Licia Maglietta will world premiere as the pre-opening film of the 14th Rome Film Fest (October 17th to 27th 2019).

In his sophomore film, Tony Saccucci – who directed Il pugile del duce, special mention at the Nastro d’Argento awards as Best Debut Film – tells the forgotten, rediscovered and shocking story of Emma Carelli, an absolute diva of the opera.

Acclaimed worldwide in the early twentieth century, she was one of the first women managers in Italy as director of the Teatro Costanzi (today’s Teatro dell’Opera in Rome) from 1912 to 1926. A soprano renowned in Italy, Europe and as far as South America, she triumphed as an impresario as well, in an environment dominated exclusively by men, headlining Picasso, the Ballets Russes and the Futurists in her theatre, for the first time in Italy. Extremely popular yet innovative at the same time, a fearless, free and emancipated spirit, at a young age she demonstrated a character that allowed her to hold her own against her older colleagues and the competition of other theatres, including the feared maximum authority Maestro Arturo Toscanini and the head of the new regime, Benito Mussolini. This was a lot, and maybe even too much for a woman in that era. After reaching the apex of consideration in the public eye, during the Fascist period Emma Carelli soon came under fire from the private and political spheres. In 1926, the Government suddenly dismissed her as the director of her theatre, because – reads a report written by the Fascist secret police – “as a woman she has developed an independent character that leads to her to feel superior to everyone else”. As Italy headed towards the authoritarian regime, Carelli witnessed the end of her theatre, her marriage, her role as a protagonist of the musical world. She died a terrible death in 1928, the year that broke all records in the history of Italy for the number of suicides by women.

La prima donna by Tony Saccucci – produced by the Istituto Luce-Cinecittà in collaboration with the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma – tells this story of inequality and violence against women relying on never seen before original documents, texts, photographs and audio recordings, valuable images from important national and foreign archives – first and foremost the immense Luce Historic Archives – and silent films used as narrative material. All of this is edited with original footage shot inside the temple of the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, where Emma Carelli is played by Italian outstanding actress Licia Maglietta.

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