1892
Riccardo Cordiferro poet, playwright and literary figure extraordinaire emigrates to the United States.


Coming to America during the time of mass immigration, Riccardo Cordiferro (1875-1940) was an Italian immigrant who in the course of his career was a poet, lyricist, journalist, publisher, editor, satirist, and playwright. Born Alessandro Sisca in the Cosenza province of Italy in 1875 and the son of a poet, Sisca attended a seminary briefly, then left to begin an extraordinary career as a man of letters. He immigrated to the United States in 1892, and after a stay in Pittsburgh, settled in New York City in 1893, where together with his father and brother, started La Follia, a weekly literary newspaper. Among Alessandro's many acquaintances was Enrico Caruso who regularly drew caricature sketches that were published in La Follia.

Sisca assumed the pen name of Cordiferro (Heart of iron) by which he became known for his often acerbic writing amply sprinkled with political commentary that continually stirred controversy because of his espousal of Socialist doctrines. This in turn endeared him to the Italian American intelligentsia who regularly invited him to speak at meetings, and to left-wing groups that called upon him to address rallies. Arrested on more than one occasion for his fulmination against the existing social order, Sisca continued to inveigh against human follies that he saw in Italian American circles and the ethnic theater. Because of the contentious nature of his writings, Sisca is known to have employed other pen names to hide his identity. Cordiferro, who enjoyed considerable success as a playwright, especially in the New York area, as his works were performed by some of the most accomplished actors of the Italian American theater group, resorted to comedy to ridicule the content of other immigrant theater companies. He wrote a number of plays with his best efforts reaching its peak in "L' Onore Perduta" (Lost Honor), a social drama which he also produced and directed. Into the 1930s this drama enjoyed such popularity that other Italian American theatrical companies beyond New York environs incorporated it into their repertoire. Blessed with a fecund mind, Cordiferro produced other plays that he sometimes directed and for which he also composed songs that he personally sang; he recited poetry, and lectured. Without question Alessandro Sisca (Riccardo Cordiferro) was one of the most gifted and prolific minds of the Italian American community during the era of mass immigration.






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