Interview with Leontina Giovanetti


Interview with Leontina Giovanetti


Leontina Giovanetti (b. 1913) reminisces about her early life with three sisters, her father who was a typographer and photographer and her mother a house-wife. Describes musical training at the Milan conservatory, stressing the demanding attitude of her teachers, and praises her mother who was prepared to endure many hardships so to give a proper education to all her daughters. Describes briefly the 1918 flu pandemic, when she was quarantined, and remembers daily life in post-war Milan: hard life, class and gender divide, rigid upbringing and strict discipline were tempered by widespread solidarity and appreciation for music. Talks about her career as a performer in casinos and cafés; while she was in Rome she listened to Benito Mussolini’s addresses and was impressed by his command of public speaking. Leontina met her husband in Bengasi while under contract as a performer but left the colony at the start of the war while pregnant. Describes the bombing of Milan, mentions the resistance of her son to go down into the shelter and the tense atmosphere inside, where people patiently waited for the all clear signal. Mentions a Jew hidden by her father and recounts wartime anecdotes about the town of Pievepelago: draft-dodgers and close links with emigrants to America. Discusses the morality of bombing.








00:41:58 audio recording


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Zeno Gaiaschi, “Interview with Leontina Giovanetti,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 22, 2023,

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