Orvieto, Angiolo

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ORVIETO, ANGIOLO (1869–1967), Italian author and editor. A nephew of Alberto *Cantoni, Orvieto was a member of an old, traditionalist family. He was born and educated in Florence and, during the years preceding World War i, took an active part in the cultural life and literary disputes of the city, which was then the main center of Italian intellectual activity. With his brother Adolfo, he founded the literary review Il Marzocco (1896–1932), giving it a classical trend in keeping with the formalism of Italian style. At the same time, Orvieto sought the collaboration of famous writers such as Luigi Pirandello and his friends Giovanni Pascoli and Gabriele D'Annunzio. Orvieto and his journal became the center of an intellectual circle consisting of the major Italian writers. He also initiated many cultural associations, including the Società dei papiri greci e latini, and the Società Leonardo da Vinci, and was among the founders of the British Council; he founded the reviews Vita Nuova and Nazione Letteraria; and was for many years superintendent of the Istituto di studi superiori in Florence.

As a poet, Orvieto tried to give new life to the traditional Italian sonnet: his collections of verse include La sposa mistica (1893), Il velo di Maia (1898), Verso l'Oriente (1912), Le sette leggende (1912), Primavera della cornamusa (1925), and ii gonfalon selvaggio (1934). Il Vento di Sion (1928) is a book written after a spiritual crisis and a return to Jewish tradition, in which he achieved a more personal tone. In this Orvieto pretends to be a 16th-century Florentine Jewish poet who tries in vain to reconcile his love for Zion with his equally sincere love for Renaissance Florence. His Canti dell' escluso, written during and after the Nazi persecutions and published in a single volume with Il Vento de Sion in 1961, is similar in tone. He also wrote impressions of his travels, a collection of translations of English poetry, and three librettos set to music by the Jewish composer G. Orefice: Chopin (1901), Elena alle porte Scee (1904), and Mosè (1905). After 1928 Orvieto was active in Jewish communal life and in extreme old age became deeply observant of religious tradition. His wife, Laura Cantoni Orvieto (1876–1953), was well known as a writer of storybooks and history books for children, among which were Leo e Lia (1908) and Storie di bambini molto antichi (1951). During the Nazi occupation of central Italy, the Orvieto couple was hidden in a Christian home for the elderly.


G.L. Luzzatto, in: rmi, 27 (1961), 454–61; 28 (1962), 32–39, 83–88; A. Bobbio, Le riviste fiorentine del principio del secolo, 19031916 (1936). add. bibliography: C. Del Vivo, in: rmi, 34 (1968), 97–113; idem, in: Rassegna della letteratura italiana 106:2 (2002), 482–98; A. Arslan and P. Zambon, Il sogno aristocratico. Angiolo Orvieto e Neera. Corrispondenza (18991917) (1990); G. Sciloni, in: Italia Judaica, 4 (1993), 97–113; L. Orvieto, Storia di Angiolo e Laura (2001).

[Giorgio Romano]