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Stone Church Arts Presents Two Silent Films with Live Musical Performance, April 8

Stone Church Arts Presents Two Silent Films with Live Musical Performance, April 8

Stone Church Arts & Immanuel Retreat Center

BELLOWS FALLS—Stone Church Arts is pleased to host a showing of two short silent films, with original music performed live. Charlie Chaplin’s comedy “The Immigrant” (1917) will open the program, followed by “Assunta Spina,” a haunting 1915 silent film featuring Italian silent film star Francesca Bertini. Both films feature new music by award-winning composer John T. La Barbera, performed live by the composer on guitar, and August Watters on mandolin. Experience these two short films with live musical performance at 3:00 PM Sunday, April 8 in the Chapel at Immanuel Episcopal Church, 12 Church St., Bellows Falls, VT. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for seniors. Information and tickets are available in person at Village Square Booksellers on the Square in Bellows Falls, by phone at 802-460-0110, online at, and at the door.

“I felt like I was transported back in time to the beginning of the 20th century,” said an audience member at a recent live performance. Dr. Joseph Scelsa of The Italian American Museum in New York City declared, “Bravo, the musical accompaniment was amazing!” And John Napoli Il Regno of the Ethno-cultural journal for people of Southern Italian descent, wrote, “La Barbera’s newly composed score (Assunta Spina) was masterfully performed and superbly accentuated the story without ever overshadowing the film….the transition from scene to scene and changes in dramatic sequences were virtually seamless…”

Charlie Chaplin’s brilliant film “The Immigrant,” which contains elements of satire, irony, and romance as well as cinematic poetry, endures in the twenty-first century as a comic masterpiece. Its social satire and commentary seem as fresh and relevant today as 100 years ago.

Based on Salvatore Di Giacomo’s play, Assunta Spina was filmed on location in Naples in 1914 and was produced and released by Caesar Film in 1915 in Italy. It features the Queen of Italian silent screen Francesca Bertini, who is credited with directing the film together with her co-star, Gustavo Serena. It is an operatic tale of love and sacrifice in working class turn of the century Naples and can be considered to be one of the first films of Italian Neorealism. Bertini’s performance set a new standard for Italian cinema. Filmed on location in Naples. Running time is 1:02:14 minutes.

For this score, arranged for mandolin and guitar, LaBarbera creates an intimate atmosphere by keeping an accompaniment of emotions found in the melodic themes of the characters in a leitmotif style to highlight the melodramatic and picturesque style of the film. As the film captures glimpses of life on the streets of Naples, references to popular traditional music can be seen in the background shots. From dancing the polka accompanied by serenading musicians to pastoral shepherds playing bagpipes for Christmas, he presents a glimpse into this period by using the rhythms of tarantella, polka, tango, waltzes, and pastoral serenades, to enhance the realism surrounding the circumstances of Assunta’s tragic and passionate story. 

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