The American Italian Cultural Center offers a monthly lecture series exploring a variety of Italian cultural and historical topics. The lectures are free for AICC members and students with a valid university or high school ID. There is a suggested $10 donation for non-members.

A Conversation on Turandot with New Orleans Opera

Thursday, September 13, 2018, 6:30pm

Join the AICC and Todd Simmons of New Orleans Opera for Puccini’s TURANDOT: a conversation about the composer, the times, and the opera.
Turandot is Puccini’s final opera, which was unfinished at the time of his death and was completed by Franco Alfano. The opera is set in China and tells the story of Prince Calaf, who falls in love with the cold Princess Turandot. In order to receive permission to wed her, the suitor must solve three riddles – any incorrect answer results in death. Prince Calaf sings Nessun dorma, one of the most famous tenor arias in opera. While the score has many Asian touches, it is clearly influence by Italian tradition; characters are based on those from Commedia dell’arte.
Explore this fantastic opera at the AICC and then see the show at Mahalia Jackson Theater on September 28 or 30.


The Spirituality of Classical Italian Cinema

Thursday, August 9, 2018, 6:30pm

Was Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City a retelling of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount? Did Fellini accomplish the condensation of thousands of years of spiritual cycles in the first few minutes of his famous film, La Dolce Vita? And how is it that Pier Paolo Pasolini, and avowed atheist, rendered one of the greatest retellings of the St. Matthew Passion ever seen on film?

I’m Dan Beck, a New Orleans-based spiritual consultant and astrologer who has been lucky enough to live with many of the great films handed down to us through the masters of Italian Cinema. Through this lecture, I will go one step further and argue that not only are the great Italian films works of incredible artistry and ingenuity but that several are critical spiritual and cultural documents that deserve sacred treatment.


Italian Influences on New Orleans Area Cemeteries
Thursday, July 19, 2018, 6:30pm

Join Emily Ford of Oak and Laurel Cemetery Preservation, LLC and discover the influences that Italians had on cemeteries in New Orleans and in Metairie! This lecture will draw from the historic landscapes of all local cemeteries and from Ms. Ford’s ongoing research into the preservation of Italian heritage. We will explore the Metairie Cemetery row of Italian society tombs; the influence of 1850s Italian sculptor Americo Marozzi on Bywater cemeteries like St. Vincent de Paul and St. Roch; and hidden Florentine masterpieces in Cypress Grove. Emily will also present lesser-known Italian burial places and society tombs, including those in Odd Fellows Rest and Valence Street Cemeteries, and some curious tales of Italian-Americans buried in historic New Orleans cemeteries.


Bebop, Swing and Bella Musica: Jazz and the Italian American Experience

Friday, June 22, 2018, 7:00pm

Authors Bill Dal Cerro and David Anthony Witter will present their book, Bebop, Swing and Bella Musica: Jazz and the Italian American Experience. Italian Americans such as Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima, Louie Bellson, Lennie Tristano, Tony Bennett, Buddy DeFranco, Flip Phillips and Joe Lovano, and many others have enriched the jazz genre since its inception in New Orleans though the big band, swing, bebop, and into the modern era. This book features interviews with musicians and illustrates the prejudices and stereotypes which Italians faced in pursuit of the American Dream.


Walk With Me Through Venice
Thursday, March 22, 2018, 6:30pm

Join us for the final installment of the AICC and Tom Cortazzo’s series of walking tours through Italy’s greatest cities as we stroll through Venice. Learn a little history of the city and enjoy the beauty that is Venice, the captivating pearl floating on the Adriatic Sea.


Bernini’s Rome
Thursday, February 22, 2018, 6:30pm

Many of the memorable sights a tourist sees in Rome were created by one man, GianLorenzo Bernini. Join lecturer Tom Cortazzo and continue the American Italian Cultural Center’s virtual walking tours of Italy’s great cities. We move from Florence to Rome where you will take a virtual walking tour through the Eternal City to see many of Bernini’s breathtaking and inspiring creations, from his spellbinding sculpture David (which rivals Michelangelo’s), to his Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona and his grand colonnade in front of St. Peter’s Square. Hear about this prodigy who grew to command commissions from Popes, fell from grace in the world of architecture and staged a triumphal return to be recognized as the undisputed father of the Baroque style and leading sculptor of his age. As one scholar has commented, “What Shakespeare is to drama, Bernini may be to sculpture ….”


Florence, Italy, the World
Thursday, November 9, 2017, 6:30pm

Lecturer Tom Cortazzo will take us on a magical tour of Florence! The wondrous city has a legitimate claim to being the birthplace of the Renaissance, the cultural movement that changed the western world forever. During the 15th and 16th centuries, more of the Renaissance luminaries had some connection with Florence than any other city in the world. This lecture will explore Renaissance Florence focusing on the great landmarks of the era and the most famous works of art ever created. Sites include Michelangelo’s David, the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio and much more! Immerse yourself in the art which gave Florence a claim to being the one-time cultural capital of the world.


Low Life/High Brow: Bernini and the Art of Baroque Rome
Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 6:30pm

Join us for a lecture on Gianlorenzo Bernini given by  Father Gregory Waldrop, S.J., the chair of Loyola’s Art Department. Gianlorenzo was a coddled prodigy and the darling of the Papal Court who created the Baroque style of sculpture. His works furthered the ambitions of some of the 17th century’s most powerful patrons from popes to kings. Crimes, controversies, and failures threatened Bernini’s superstar status during his lifetime, but upon his death, praised his genius and reputed his piety in almost equal measure.  Explore the intrigue, violence, and splendor of Bernini’s Baroque Rome.


How Genealogy Research Helped Solve a 70 Year WW2 Mystery
Thursday, October 19, 2017, 6:30pm

Sal Serio, curator of the American Italian Research Library, will tell the story of Lt. Wesley Richard of Metairie, Louisiana. In 1943, Lieutenant Richard ‘s plane was shot down in Sabaudia, Italy and he perished. German forces occupied the region, but the small farm community of Sabaudia took Lt. Richard into their hearts and minds. This lecture will reveal how genealogy research helped uncover what happened to Lieutenant Richard.


Things to do in Rome and Florence
Thursday, September 21, 2017, 7:00pm

Have you gone with your family to Italy and want to enjoy it again? Do you hope to go there with them one day? Do you want your kids to learn something of the history and culture there? Come to this lecture and bring the whole family. Tom Cortazzo will be presenting things to see and do in Rome and Florence in a discussion for young people to enjoy. All children and teenagers are welcome. We will engage them in talk about such famous sites as the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peters Basilica, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Duomo in Florence and fantastic works by famous artists such as Michelangelo, Bernini and Raphael.


Guns in the Hands of Artists
Thursday, September 7, 2017, 6:30pm

Guns In The Hands of Artists is a community-based social-activist artistic project that has been traveling the country the past three years. It has been presented at the Aspen Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, Art Basel Miami Beach, Minneapolis and at the Rotunda of the US Senate Building in Washington D.C.

Decommissioned guns taken off the streets of New Orleans were distributed to over thirty internationally known artists to use as the raw materials in creating works of art addressing the issue of guns and gun violence in America. Jonathan Ferrara will give a talk about the project with a presentation of images from the show. He will discuss the project, what it means, its impact, and the his book on the project which includes essays by Walter Isaacson, Gabby Giffords, Harry Shearer and Richard Ford.