An illiterate Calabrian in southern Italy owes money to his church and mayor. He skips town for the bustling streets of New York. Meeting an old friend, a fellow immigrant, he thanks him for help getting settled, and then steals his money. With a new parcel of wealth, he materializes from a small-time laborer into a big-time entrepreneur, soon becoming the tyrant of the local Italian American community. By pluck, luck, and unscrupulous business practices, this cunning character "makes America." There are riches, pleasure, and the beautiful Carmela. Then trouble. Comeuppance. Ambush. Revenge.Twenty-first century popular culture? Not at all.
The Grand Gennaro, a riveting saga set at the turn of the last century in Italian American Harlem, reflects on how youthful acts of cruelty and desperation follow many to the grave. A classic in the truest sense, this operatic narrative is alive once again, addressing the question: How does one become an "American"?