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The Oratorio: A Documentary with Martin Scorsese

 Martin Scorsese in Old St. Pat’s Cathedral.
Jon Nelson / Provenance Productions
Martin Scorsese in Old St. Pat’s Cathedral.

Fri., Nov. 5 at 9 p.m. on WKAR-HD 23.1 & STREAMING | Learn the long-forgotten story of the 1826 performance that brought Italian opera to New York City.

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese reveals the fascinating story of a one-night-only performance in 1826 at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral—Scorsese’s home church in Little Italy—that marked the arrival of Italian opera in the New World in The Oratorio.

This watershed event was lost to history for almost 200 years, but was recently rediscovered and restaged by an Italian opera company at the historic church.

A story filled with colorful personalities, including a freed slave, opera's first diva, and Mozart's librettist, this documentary explores the richness of the immigrant experience and the beginning of a cultural awakening in America.

“Everything is in constant change, but this basilica has been and remains a constant, an anchor,” says Scorsese. “And it was built by people who flocked here to start a new life in this city. A city where people still come from all over the world. A city that, for me, has always been synonymous with America itself—America at its very best.”

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