Alberto Savinio

Alberto Savinio, real name Alberto de Chirico, was born in Athens in 1891 and died in Rome in 1952. He started his writing career in Paris as a contributor to Apollinaire’s Soirees De Paris journal. He wrote many novels, short-stories, autobiographies, plays and librettos. He also contributed to many magazines and newspapers as a reporter and music and theater critic. His distinctive personal style established him among the most important Italian writers of the 20th century. Savinio’s interests were not exclusively literary. When he was very young, he studied the piano and music composition at the Athens Conservatory under Spyros Samaras and later on in Munich under Max Reger. He composed operas based on his own librettos, using his own costumes and scenography. His operas have been staged in many opera houses, including Milan’s La Scala theatre. Since 1917, he also produced paintings, but only as a by-work, unlike his brother Giorgio de Chirico. A comprehensive retrospective exhibition of paintings, organized in 1978 at the Palazzo Delle Esposizioni in Rome, included him among the first-rate modern Italian painters.


…A few months earlier, Nivasio Dolcemare landed in Salonika with a detachment of Italian troops that would join the division that had been transferred to Macedonia (1917). Aboard the steamship, he befriended a soldier named Charlemagne, who was not well versed in history and had no idea he was the namesake of the son of Pepin the Short …

…A certain Madame named Perdita Skoufaki lived in that same city of Salonika. She was of French descent and blessed with a lyric soprano’s voice. One day, general Sarrail, commander of the allied forces in Macedonia, invited her to take part in a concert for the soldiers that had been wounded at the Vardar front. Perdita was ravie* to take part in this charity and asked Charlemagne’s uncle to recommend her a pianist that would accompany her singing. He suggested Nivasio Dolcemare. The two of them started rehearsing. On the second day, while rehearsing Carlotta’s aria from Werther, Perdita fainted. Nivasio attempted to hold her, and they both fell on the couch together...


*French for enraptured (translator’s note)


From Alberto Savinio’s Maupassant e l’ altro (Greek edition: Ο Μωπασσάν και «ο Άλλος», translated by Maria A. Heliou, Ypsilon, Athens, 1983).


Untitled, 1926-7, ink and watercolor on paper, private Collection
Untitled, 1927, mixed media on paper, private Collection, Galleria Tega, Milano

Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011 Biennale de Lyon