whn the racial laws were published in Italy in 1938, all Jewish pupils were thrown out of public schools and had to go to Jewish schools organized by the local communities. This was the setting for Lele’s first encounter with Mrs. Neomi Fajrajzen (Jona). Neomi was his sister’s teacher, but on occasion she taught his class as well. Since as a child Lele didn’t like writing, Neomi suggested he will draw his answers. She collected these small doodles and illustrations, but unfortunately, they were all lost over the years.

When Lele was about to leave for Switzerland for his studies in the École des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne he was looking to study some French, so Neomi introduced him to her husband who studied in Paris and was a professor of Philosophy in university. He also lost his job due to the racial laws, and could use some extra cash. Neomi’s husband was none other than Alexander Fajrajzen- better known by his stage name- Alessandro Fersen. Lele used to say that he didn’t learn much French from Fersen, but did learn greatly about theater. After the war, their paths crossed again and they became both personal friends, and professional partners. This partnership lasted for over forty years, during which they produced, directed and designed productions for the theater and opera. Fersen also established a special studio dedicated to the preforming arts called “studio di Arte Sceniche” which was the first of its kind at that time! Their partnership influenced Lele’s work greatly as we can see in many of his works, settings that look similar to that of a theatrical stage, or his use of characters from the Commedia dell'arte, especially Pulcinella.  

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Nel 1938, con l’emanazione delle leggi razziste, gli alunni ebrei vennero estromessi dalle scuole pubbliche ed andarono a studiare nelle scuole ebraiche  organizzate dalle comunità  israelitiche.  Fu così che Lele incontrò la maestra Noemi Iona Fajrajzen, che era l'insegnante di Gabriella e che a volte faceva lezione anche alla classe di Lele.Tra i due si instaurò un rapporto speciale: siccome a  Lele non piaceva scrivere, Noemi, la maestra, gli diceva invece di disegnare. Quei disegni vennero raccolti e conservati da Noemi, ma purtroppo andarono persi negli anni.

Quando Lele stava per andare in Svizzera, a studiare alla "Scuola di Belle Arti" a Losanna, Noemi gli consigliò di studiare francese da suo marito, che aveva perso il lavoro di insegnante all'università, a causa delle leggi razziste. Il marito di Noemi non era altri che il regista  Alessandro Fajrajzen, piu' conosciuto col nome d'arte Alessandro Fersen. Lele usava dire di Fersen che riguardo al francese non aveva imparato tanto da lui, ma sul teatro moltissimo!

Dopo la guerra, Luzzati e Fersen si ritrovarono, e fra i due si instaurarono  un'amicizia e una collaborazione durate quarant' anni, nei quali produssero e misero in scena spettacoli e opere teatrali. Fersen fondo' uno "Studio di arti sceniche", il primo del suo genere per quei tempi. La collaborazione con Fersen ebbe una grande influenza su Lele, e questo  si può notare in molti dei suoi lavori non creati appositamente per il teatro:  la costruzione dello spazio, la presa in prestito di alcuni personaggi della commedia dell'arte , come Pulcinella,  o dell'opera, come Papageno e Papagena , da "Il flauto magico" di Mozart.

Emanuela Luzzati, Untitled. Lithograph, date unknown. Courtesy of Rafi and Ula Hadar.
The child in the front row is very similar to Lela as he sometimes used to draw himself, and while we have no real evidence of this, it is nice to imagine that the teacher described here is based on Naomi Fairyzen.
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A collage inspired by the design of a stage set. Luzzati’s collaboration with Fersen is clearly demonstrated.
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Papageno and Papagena are two characters from Mozart’s famous opera- “The magic flute”. The two share one of the sweetest duets which quickly turns into a lover’s quarrel over the gender of their first-born child. This little quarrel does not last long however and the two continue to sing in harmony.   

Click on the images to continue discovering Dod Lele's world

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