On stage, the saga of the Lehman brothers is a parable of America

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ITALIANS have long been inspired by the opening up of America. In the 1960s, for example, no year went by without a fresh serving of “spaghetti” Westerns, with their vulpine heroes, their vistas and their villains. Now, half a century after Sergio Leone brought “Once Upon a Time in the West” to the screen, the National Theatre in London is hosting a different kind of Italian Western—a grand morality tale about God, greed, conquest and family, featuring bankers instead of gunslingers.

Part of “The Lehman Trilogy” by Stefano Massini, a Florentine playwright, was performed in Paris in French in 2013. By the time Sam Mendes saw a five-hour Italian version directed by his mentor, Luca Ronconi, in Milan two years later, it had also been translated into German and rewritten by Mr Massini as a novel. The challenge for Mr Mendes, a distinguished stage director who has overseen two James Bond films, and the text’s adapter, the National’s Ben…Continue reading

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