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Impossible Conversations – Dominique Rizzo in conversation with Saint Agatha

DOMINIQUE RIZZO IN CONVERSATION WITH SAINT AGATHA (courtesy of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre)

St Agatha

231-251AD
Saint Agatha

Saint Agatha is said to have been martyred in 251AD in Catania in Sicily at the age of fifteen. Her torture is recorded in detail in the earliest martyrology.

She would ask Dominique Rizzo what made her sad.

Dominique Rizzo

Dominique Rizzo has worked as a chef and restaurateur, at Mondo Organics in West End and now in her own Putia Pure Food Kitchen in Banyo on Brisbane’s northside. Born in 1972, Dominique travelled to Italy with her father Vincenzo who was born in Sicily where St Agatha is patron saint.

Dominique would ask Saint Agatha how she endured.

DR: Dear Saint Agatha.

SA: I am. Lord Jesus Christ, you created me, you watched over me from infancy, kept my body from defilement, preserved me from love of the world.

DR: I can’t imagine the courage it took, and the strength of your faith. When my father first took us back to Sicily, I saw how the community honours the saints. I try to picture myself in your shoes. I couldn’t do what you did.

SA: I’m not sure I understood, Dominique. Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am – you alone. I am your sheep. Make me worthy to overcome the Devil.

DR: Quintianus arrested you because you wouldn’t renounce your promise to God and consent to sin with him. St Agatha, you were a child.

SA: We are all children, Dominique. He arrested me for my faith in Jesus Christ. He arrested me because I would not renounce my vow. They used tongs and then knives. If you threaten me with wild beasts, know that at the Name of Christ they grow tame; if you use fire, from heaven angels will drop healing dew on me.

St Agatha

DR: *sobs* They cut off your breasts.

SA: Just as wheat cannot arrive at the granary before it is cleansed from the chaff, so my soul cannot enter into Paradise if my body, beforehand, is not humbled by tortures. Yes, they did. Also fire and shards.

DR: To me, you are the essence of a young woman of strength believing in yourself and God.

SA: *smiles, beatific* Saint Peter came to my cell and healed me. I am the patron saint of bell-founding.

DR: But also of women who have breast cancer and of rape and violence against women. Given what’s going on in our world today… When I go into churches, I cry, Saint Agatha.

SA: I said to my torturer, on the last day, your words be but wind, your promises be but rain, and your menaces be as rivers that pass.

St Agatha

DR: I was in Sicily for your feast day, and the bakers made minni di virgini in your honour, little rounded cakes filled with ricotta, coated with marzipan, a cherry on top.

SA: Cakes! I love cakes. I’m the patron saint of bakers too, Dominique, and you aspire to pure food so we’re sisters as well as children of God. And also earthquakes and volcanoes because the Lord unleashed them to punish my tormentors who will burn and suffer in Hell for all eternity. All eternity. *smiles, beatific*

DR: You are a martyr.
SA: I am a girl who died at fifteen.

DR: Exactly. I am in awe of you, Saint Agatha.
SA: Blessings, sister.

St Agatha
Dominique has been travelling to and from Sicily since she was a little girl and now she shares her intimate knowledge of Sicilian food and culture with you on her food, wine and cooking tours.  She has Sicilian blood and is passionate about all things Sicilian.  For the chance to experience Sicily through Dominique’s eyes, go to Pure Food Cooking Tours – Latest Tours.

Impossible Conversations with Chef Dominique Rizzo

Chef Dominique Rizzo returns from her sell-out Spanish “Unique Catalonia” food, wine and cooking tour for the launch of Impossible Conversations, in Brisbane, an event that is a classic celebration of art, ballet and poetic stories.

Impossible Conversations - Dominique Rizzo in Spain 2018 by Helen Gambley

Image: H Gambley

The Museum of Brisbane partnered with QPAC to create a series of Impossible Conversations with celebrated Italian figures from the past, many of whom are unfamiliar to most of us today.

“Inspired by Vanity Fair’s bitingly satirical 1930s series ‘Impossible Interviews’, nine of Brisbane finest residents shared the conversations that they would like to have with their chosen figure from Italian history.”

The conversation

Dominique Rizzo is honoured to be chosen to share her conversation with Saint Agatha, the saint of Sicily.

Impossible Conversations - St. Agatha painting

Image: Il Regno

Dominique’s conversation starts with a heart-felt note to Saint Agatha:
Impossible Conversations - Dominique Rizzo's note to Saint Agatha

Image: Museum of Brisbane

The art

Sam Cranstoun, the artist commissioned to paint the no-longer-living famous Italians, met and talked to Dominique and listened to what she imagined that she would say to Saint Agatha about her brave but tortured life.  It was this conversation that Sam then interpreted in his own watercolour painting.

“Because the historical figures are unable to take part in the conversations, Sam’s paintings hover in the space between question and answer. He offers glimpses of the conversations through imagery and text, inviting us to weave our own narratives.”

Impossible Conversations - Saint Agatha by Sam Cranstoun

Image: Museum of Brisbane

 

When and where can you catch up with Sam Cranstoun’s painting of Saint Agatha and the other eight historical Italian figures?

The stunning results can be viewed at the Museum of Brisbane exhibition Sam Cranstoun: Impossible Conversations, from 10 Oct 2018 – 31 Mar 2019,  and in the QPAC tunnel from November 2018.

The ballet – the pièce de résistance of this cultural event

The Italian theme of the Impossible Conversations celebrates the spectacular first-time visit of  Italy’s iconic Teatro alla Scala ballet company to Australia, to Brisbane only, performing Rudolph Nureyev’s grand Don Quixote and the ever-beautiful Giselle at QPAC.  What masterpieces are to be enjoyed by the lovers of ballet and theatre.

Impossible Conversations - La Scala Ballet Don Quixote

Image: teatroallascala Instagram

If contemplating these cultural events is making you think of food, why not cook Italian style with Dominique Rizzo’s recipe for Sicilian Arancini? These are show-stoppers in the arancini world.