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THE GYPSIES IN THE ARTS
Give me Champagne - Let's Go to the Gypsies


by Chuck Todaro

   Shakira I'm a Gypsy
                                
            “I might steal your clothes and wear them if they fit me - I’m a gypsy”, harmonizes international pop singer Shakira. A generation before Cher was emphasizing a rebellious tone, “they’d call us Gypsies, tramps and thieves” – and who can forget old blue eyes romanticizing “you and you alone bring out the Gypsy in me”...

 

        Artists have been celebrating the carefree lifestyle and lustfulness of the Gypsies since dubbed “bohemians”, a term that later came to identify a special class of anti-establishment artists.....


Gypsies
The Expulsion of the Gypsies from Spain

     The disastrous timing of their arrival into Europe coinciding with the Tatar and Turkish invasions led to accusations as spies. Their “oddball” behavior like fortunetelling and.....




fortune teller       Gypsy Sisters         Gypsy Girl

Caravaggio: The Fortune Teller - John Phillip: Gypsy Sisiters (1854) - Theodor Aman: Gypsy Girl (1884) 

     The Gypsy presence in literature started up as early as Shakespeare’s casual Roma references in Othello, The Tempest, As You Like It and in Midsummer Night’s Dream: “the lover, all as frantic, sees Helen’s beauty in the brow of Egypt”. The lover finds beauty even in the face of the dark ....


Tiginada   

 
Tiginada by Ioan Budai-Deleanu would become Romania’s preeminent work of literature....





The Classics

    Shortly after Tiginada’s debut Alexander Pushkin began hanging around a Gypsy camp where he fell in love with a beautiful Gypsy girl, later writing a poem about his experience called The Gypsies based on the burning question - “what if I made her mine”.

    Aleko, the Pushkin character of the story, is taken in by a wandering band of Gypsies where he falls in love with the free-spirited Zamfira and they marry.  When Aleko catches her …

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Attention

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 Our movement has always strongly believed in sharing objective truths of Roma history and culture as a means of combatting the abundance of misinformation and biased opinions feeding the stereotypes.

 Our excusive research is still freely available at our learning center locations. Contact us with ANY questions:  tziganiatours@tzigania.com


Zamfira’s father speaks:

“Depart from us, oh man of pride!
We are but wild, a lawless nation,
We keep no rack or hempen knot,
Need neither blood nor lamentation –
But live with slayers we will not.
The heathen freedom you have known,
You claim it for yourself alone;
Your voice henceforth would awe and grieve us,
For we are meek and kind of heart,
And you are fierce and wicked – leave us,
And peace be with you as we part.”


  

Opera Carmen  Pushkin’s poem was so well received that it became the inspiration for dozens of other works of fiction including .... Hunchback of notre dame

 
  “Attracting the attention of one of the Gypsies, Jonathan threw down the letter and the gold coin, gesturing with his hands that he needed the letter mailed. The Gypsy seemed to understand and agree, and Jonathan breathed a sigh of relief.

   The next evening, however, the count came into the room, sat beside Jonathan, and handed him the letter he had written to Mina. The letter had been opened. The gold piece, of course, was gone.”

 

        Meanwhile, the great composer Franz Liszt was becoming a regular around the Gypsy camp, ....


Entertainment Houses

    The true artist is more than simply an imaginative creator, yet an adventurer. ...


In a Theater Near You...

     

Gypsy Blood film             Then came moving pictures and suddenly Gypsies began appearing in a theater near you. The most common role came as the fortune teller; the horror genre made the most of it from The Wolf Man series all the way up to the chain of Steven King tales. Other directors chose the sex appeal of the Gypsy woman as seen in the provocative “cat fight” of the James Bond thriller From Russia, with Love while others repeated ....


  Gypsy Fury                                                                                    Gypsy film

     While the Gypsy character usually held minor roles bringing a flash of humor or mystique to the storyline. ....

Golden Earings
     Of course, like most Hollywood films passionate love is at the core and when the time came that Ray Milland must do his duty and report home with his findings he promises Lydia that .....

     

Hollywood, known to follow trends till ad nauseam, followed up the billion dollar success of the crime family themed The Godfather, series along a gypsy path with King of the Gypsies staring an entire “gajo” cast, if I may borrow the Romani term identifying non-Gypsies, of Eric Roberts, Judd Hirsch, Shelly Winters, Susan Sarandon and Brooke Shields as the Gypsies. A short time later filmmakers started a new trend of ....

Gypsy Kings

     The Gypsies burst onto American screens with the 1983 hit Angelo my Love, the story of a family of New York Gypsies hustling their way through life. The film was conceived when writer and director Robert Duval stumbled upon the eight year old star of the movie on the streets of NYC having what sounded like a lovers' quarrel with a woman in her late 20’s. The kid and his family were naturals. Even though Mr. Duval wrote the screen play, much of the dialogue had been improvised by the actors.

    There exist those Gypsies who fight against the stereotypes and there are others that flaunt it. “They are more ‘gypsy’ than the others,” says music author Speranta Radulescu, talking about the musicians of the renowned Gypsy band Taraf de Haidouks, “but they want to remain this way and maybe it’s a good idea because I think by remaining the same increases the people from the Occident’s intrigue and fascination towards them.”

     The internal debate raging between the financial gains of the stereotypes versus self-respect parallels the Italian-American dispute with the film industry’s heavy use of the mafia stereotype. There’s money to be made in the stereotypes as displayed in both Gypsy and Italian-American themed reality shows instigating outlandish behavior. At a writers' symposium in 1999, Frank Renzulli, co-writer of the hit HBO series The Sopronos, about an Italian-American mafia family, made this conundrum perfectly clear when he commented that if the Italian-American gangster characters were removed from programming, there would be "no Italians on television."… In other words, play the part or - “next!”


Article by Chuck Todaro

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