Martin Scorsese tells the story of a long-forgotten event that forever changed the cultural landscape of New York.
In 1826, a single performance forever changed America’s cultural landscape and introduced Italian opera to New York City. This watershed event was lost to history for almost 200 years, but was recently rediscovered and restaged by an Italian opera company at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral.
The Oratorio includes stories of the original performance: Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, debt-ridden and selling groceries in NYC; Maria Malibran, a young singer considered opera’s first diva; Pierre Toussaint, a freed slave and the chief benefactor in building this church. Hosted by Martin Scorsese with insight from church parishioner and comedian Jim Gaffigan, The Oratorio is a documentary about the richness of the immigrant experience as it examines bridges between the old world and new and explores the beginning of a cultural awakening in America.