Folk Performances of the Italian-American Prominenti

Joey Skee (April 15, 2008)
Galas, banquet receptions, and award ceremonies are some of the most enduring Italian-American folk performances that reveal much about how group identity is created and reproduced.

There have been informal and in-depth looks at Italian-American folk performances from the Sicilian opera dei pupi and St. Joseph’s altars, to the full-blown spectacle of the religious street festa. We know the histories of how immigrants introduced these various practices to the United States and how their descendants developed them over time. The overwhelming majority of the theatrical and social performances that have been written about are rooted in the subaltern lower classes, the vernacular performances derived from southern Italian peasantry and expanded upon by the American proletariat and lower middle class. Unfortunately, little research has been conducted on the folk performances of the Italian-American elite, such as the gala, the banquet reception, and the award ceremony.