This program features one of Italy’s leading cantors, Rabbi Elia Richetti, performing a selection of Ashkenazi synagogue songs from an array of Jewish communities in Northern Italy. Throughout his life, Rabbi Richetti has preserved the music of Gorizia, where part of his family came from, and learned the traditions of Trieste and Verona. The performance, presented in conversation with musicologist Francesco Spagnolo (UC Berkeley), will also include excerpts of other Italian traditions of Ashkenazi origin, such as Venice and Casale Monferrato. Ashkenazi Jews settled in Italy since the early modern period, and preserved original musical traditions documented in written and recorded sources since the 18th century.
Elia Richetti (Milan, 1950) was trained as Rabbi, Cantor, Sofer, and Mohel in Italy and Israel. Rabbi Richetti has been the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish communities of Trieste (1979-1989) and Venice (2001-2010), and Deputy Chief Rabbi of Milan (1989-2001). He served on the Milan Beth Din, as president of the Italian Rabbinical Assembly, and as a member and sofer of Beth Din of Central and Northern Italy. He is a leading expert on many Italian liturgical traditions, with a particular focus on the Ashkenazi minhag.
Francesco Spagnolo (PhD Hebrew University, 2007) works at the University of California, Berkeley, as the Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Music. His research focuses on the musical history of the Italian synagogue. He is the author of Italian Jewish Musical Traditions (Rome-Jerusalem, 2001) and, most recently, of The Jewish World (Rizzoli, 2014).
This article was published in The New York Transatlantic