SEA and YOU – Interview with Mimmo Matania

The Sea and You project kicked off in January 2023, but the first stage that the Napulitanata association will tackle will be on November, 11th in Granada and will then land in Portugal on February, 17th. For the occasion, we asked a few questions to one of the two founders of the project, Mimmo Matania, manager and musicologist, who together with pianist Paquale Cirillo, gave life to the reality.

Where did the idea of participating in a European project come from?

It was the result of a meeting with a person who later became a friend of ours: one concert was enough for him to understand the potential of Napulitanata. When he proposed to us to participate in the call, we had no idea what kind of skills we needed to participate in a project of this magnitude. We got help, we did our best, but we didn’t think we could win. Yet, it happened.

What does this opportunity represent for you?

The possibility of giving Napulitanata an international dimension, which it already implicitly contains. We are in a small room, a few steps from our homes but all over the world, as our trumpeter, Antonio Sacco, says. It allows us to have a more peaceful relationship with the city, a breathing space. Making our culture known is what we want.

What are the strengths that Napulitanata has for winning a European bid?

I think there has been a turnaround: in the 1990s we were all looking for the Americanate of the day, now there is a need for something authentic, for a return to proximity, perhaps one of the few positive aspects that covid has left us: that of returning to choosing what is ours. Napulitanata goes in this direction, from the detailed to the general, it is projected into the future.

What do you hope the Sea and You experience will bring?

Of course, it will give us a wider network of acquaintances, which is not only limited to the local area.  And then, of course the European project has made our structure more solid, enabling us to make different managerial choices.

How does Napulitanata remain true to itself and its history without losing its European breath?

What we do already has the answer in itself: we sing ‘O sole mio, not Volare, or Lasciatemi cantare, which would allow us to be more liked by the tourists. I believe this is already an act of fidelity. We are trying to devise a reference model that starts from our tradition and builds bridges with the destination city. I am thinking of Paris, how I would like to interface with university realities, to identify a historical reference period and a red thread linking the two cities, to create a format both in the place and in the performance itself. How, then, do you not betray? With culture, with knowledge.

What do you expect from collaboration with other countries? Do you already know their musical realities?

I expect to be able to broaden more my outlook, humanly and work-wise. I know their musical realities, in the end Napulitanata is also inspired by them, by their tradition.

What can be done more to protect these realities and make them recognised, known to the public?

The Italian political and institutional reality, of the South, is obsolete. Interfacing with these is like when David fights Goliath: the young man clashing with people who may know less than you do, but still have the upper hand. You have to work twice as hard, even if only to talk to those in charge. Ours is a reality that has never expected anything from the public authorities, perhaps this is our strong point. We support ourselves with our skills and knowledge alone, offering a service to the territory that is widely known by the same, but little by the institutions; Regione Campania has not even given us its moral patronage yet for this project. So, to answer the question, we do our best, working hard every day; now we just have to wait to see how this experience will go: for sure, for the moment, everything has been surprising.