Marina Romani is a film and music researcher, Italianist, educator, writer, translator, and performer of Western classical music and Afro-Caribbean music. She is also a music and culture critic, and serves as a contributing writer for the San Francisco Opera. She's currently based in Milan, Italy.

Marina holds a PhD in Italian Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Film studies from UC Berkeley.


She has presented her original research at international conferences in Europe and in the US (Yale University, New York University, University of Southern California, King’s College London, UCLA, among others).

A native of a tiny rural village in Abruzzo, Italy, Marina pursued her Laurea Triennale (BA) in Languages and Cultures at Università Roma Tre (Rome, Italy) and later moved to the UK to pursue her MA in Comparative Literature at King’s College London. 

​Marina was the North America Editor of from 2007 to 2015, reviewing operas in Europe and in the United States and interviewing international artists. 


She was copyeditor of the peer-reviewed academic journal California Italian Studies (2011 - 2017). She also acted as a localization specialist and music expert at a Fortune-100 technology company in Cupertino, CA (2015 - 2016).

Most recently, Marina held the position of consultant for the peer-reviewed academic journal Film Quarterly and served as a Resident Scholar and Expert for the UN Women’s Global Voices Film Festival held at the Lucasfilm Premier Theater in San Francisco.


As a language and culture expert and educator, Marina taught courses on cinema, literature, and music at UC Berkeley, and she developed and taught original curricula that integrate culture and language teaching with music and theater performance.


Marina was part of the organizing committee of the First International Conferences on Film and Media at UC Berkeley, and collaborated with the senior curators at the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive. She has conducted historiographical research on a wide range of cultural expressions, from sound in post-Katrina New Orleans to folk music in Southern Italy.

With a background in both Western classical music and Afro-Caribbean music, Marina performs extensively as a solo singer in both Europe and the US. She is currently part of Bay Area-based performance and education ensemble Aguacero and of son jarocho group DíaPa'Son.

Recent Work and Advisory Positions

2016 - present

Resident Scholar and Expert 

USNC for UN Women San Francisco's Global Voices Film Festival

  • Selected as one of three members of the jury for the first UN Women Global Voices Film Festival held at Lucasfilm, San Francisco.

  • Served as cultural adviser to the President of the United States National Committee for UN Women (San Francisco Bay Area Chapter) and to the festival viewing committee.

  • Created proprietary academic materials used by the viewing committee, and presented such original materials to the festival committee and to festival sponsors such as Salesforce.

  • Contributed to the design of award categories, assigned awards to shortlisted films, presented films at the festival.

2018 - 2019

Executive Director

Program for the Study of Italy. Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley.

  • Collaborated closely with the IES Director and with the IES Program Manager as Italian culture specialist.

  • Developed strategies for the growth and advancement of the Program for the Study of Italy.

  • Invited scholars from the US and Europe to offer lectures and participate in events designed for the academic community and for wider audiences.

2017 - 2019

Academic Specialist

Berkeley International Study Program.

  • Department of Sociology, UC Berkeley.

  • Provided on-going group and individual academic and cultural advising to 100+ international students.

  • Supported students by enhancing their critical thinking skills and ability to face and learn complex and sensitive topics in contemporary society and culture.

  • Led the weekly seminar “Strategies for Cross-Cultural Learning,” exploring the concept of culture from a variety of intellectual, multidisciplinary, and intersectional perspectives.

  • Designed and led innovative series of workshops and seminars on topics such as essay writing, research, and academic excellence in the US context.

2017 - 2019


Department of Italian Studies, UC Berkeley.

  • Areas of expertise: academic writing and research, reading and composition, Italian language and conversation, Italian music and cinema, 19th-, 20th-, 21st-century Italian and European cultures, cross-cultural communication, contemporary American culture and society.

  • Taught an intensive Italian language and culture course developed specifically for romance language speakers.

  • Collaborated with core faculty to offer guest lectures on Italy’s political and musical history.

  • Designed focus sessions based on an interdisciplinary and multicultural approach in order to sustain and enhance students’ communicative and intercultural tools, consistently receiving excellent students’ and faculty’s evaluations.

2007 - present

Music and Culture Writer

  • Contributing writer for the San Francisco Opera (2015 - present).

  • Published on the San Francisco Opera Magazine, MusicalCriticism.comClassic Voice, Österreichische Musikzeitschrift. 

  • Develops themes and subjects for original articles and in-depth full-length features; conducts historiographical research.

  • Conducts interviews in English and Italian.

  • Interviewed major international artists such as Ferruccio Furlanetto, Nicola Luisotti, Eva Maria Westbroek, Patricia Racette, Diana Damrau, Ewa Podles.

  • North American Editor at (2009 - 2015): managed all aspects of online publication such as supervision of assignments, copy-editing, image copyrights, graphic formatting and online upload; commissioned articles and exclusive interviews to contributors across the US; liaised with cultural institutions across the world (from the Metropolitan Opera of New York to the Royal Opera House of London) and with the Editor-in-Chief based in London, UK; served as music critic of concerts and press conferences worldwide (San Francisco, London, Milan, Rome).


2007 - present


  • Singer (soprano) and multi-instrumentalist (piano, jarana jarocha, percussions).

  • 10+ years of training in Western classical music and Afro-Caribbean traditions.

  • Solo singer and instrumentalist with Aguacero (bomba y plena performance and education ensemble) and DíaPaSon (son jarocho ensemble).

  • Performed at venues and festivals such as CubaCaribe, Brava Theater, Stanford University, La Peña Cultural Center, Dance Mission Theater, MACLA Cultural Center.

  • Performed repertoires of Western classical music in Europe (Italy, Germany, UK) and in the US.

Areas of specialization: Western classical music, Southern Italian folkloric music (pizzica, taranta), Afro-Caribbean music, Puerto Rican bomba, son jarocho.




PhD in Italian Studies with Designated Emphasis in Film Studies, UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Between Soundtrack and Performance: Music and History in Italian Film Melodrama (1940-2010).

Dissertation Committee:

Prof. Barbara Spackman (Italian Studies, Comparative Literature)

Prof. Linda Williams (Film and Media, Rhetoric)

Prof. Mary Ann Smart (Music)

Prof. Mia Fuller (Italian Studies)


MA in Comparative Literature, King's College London, UK

Awarded with Distinction.

Thesis: Performing Verdi: Dannunzian Images and Mythical Displays in Opera under Fascism.

Thesis Adviser: Prof. Roger Parker


BA in Foreign Languages and Cultures (English, French, Swedish), Università Roma Tre, Italy

Awarded with Distinction (110/110 cum laude).

Thesis: Salman Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet: A Rock Epic.


Intermediate Degree in Piano, Conservatorio di Pescara, Italy


2015 - 2016

Localization and Music Specialist 


  • Acted as Italian culture and music expert, translator, fact-checker, and managing editor for a Fortune-100 technology client company in Cupertino (CA).

  • Reviewed and provided original copy across multiple international editorial projects.

  • Supervised and coordinated QA testing across multiple platforms (mobile, desktop, TV) and media (music, books, apps, games, podcasts).

  • Trained junior specialists.

2011 - 2017


California Italian Studies

  • Reviewed and edited academic essays on European culture for the peer-reviewed academic journal California Italian Studies.

  • Created editorial guidelines, provided academic and stylistic feedback to authors and senior editors.

  • Collaborated closely with the editors as culture consultant.

2015 - 2016

Senior Consultant

Film Quarterly.

  • Adviser to Editor-in-Chief of peer-reviewed academic journal Film Quarterly.

  • Coordinated and supervised the first Film Quarterly editorial board meeting featuring an ensemble of international scholars as well as representatives from Ford Foundation’s JustFilms.

  • Worked with the Editor-in Chief to supervise budgeting and financial strategies prior to the board meeting.

  • Organized an exclusive press tour of the new Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive prior to its official inauguration, in collaboration with the PFA senior film curators, 

2012 - 2015

Research Fellow and Instructor

UC Berkeley

  • ​Taught courses in music, film, and Italian language, as well as originally designed courses on European and American literatures and cultures, consistently receiving excellent evaluations.

  • Created original syllabi and teaching units. Provided extensive individual feedback and support to students.

  • Designed and taught an innovative performance-based language and culture course where students learn a foreign language through music and theater performance.

  • Directed the staging of an opera scene performed by 20+ students.


Collaborator to Senior Curator

Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive

  • Assisted the organization of the retrospective "Days of Glory: Revisiting Italian Neorealism."

  • Served as cultural adviser.

  • Reviewed and edited the English subtitles.

  • Assisted the projectionist during the screenings.

Selected Conferences and Invited Talks

Forthcoming in 2020

Invited Colloquium Speaker in the Department of Music, King’s College London.

October 2019

Invited Speaker. Presentation of the first Italian translation of the poetry collection Epicrisi by Ashraf Fayadh, translated by Sana Darghmouni. University of Bologna, Italy.

May 2019 

Invited Speaker. "Viral Italian Sounds." Department of Music, UC Berkeley.

May 2019

Organizer, Academic Consultant, and Moderator. "Beyond Archetypes: A Panel Discussion Examining the Role of Women in Folk Music and Dance from Latin America and the Caribbean." Featuring Maria De La Rosa, Liliana Herrera, Gabriela Shiroma, and Shefali Shah. Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley.

April 2019     

Invited Guest Lecturer. "Music and Feminism" Seminar. Department of Music. UC Berkeley.

October 2018

Invited Lecturer. "Political and Contemporary Mythologies in Contemporary Italy: Lega Nord's Va Pensiero." Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley.

April 2018      

Featured Speaker. "Inside Dope: Life as a Humanist II." Townsend Center for the Humanities. UC Berkeley.

March 2018      

Invited Guest Lecturer. "Sirens and 20th-Century Music" Seminar.

Department of Music. UC Berkeley.

March 2018      

Organizer and Moderator. "Humanists Inside/Outside Academia." Featuring Dr. Olivia Sears (Founder and President, Center for the Art of Translation) and Dr. Elisabeth I. Ward (Executive Director, Los Altos History Museum).  Departments of Italian Studies and Scandinavian.

UC Berkeley.

March 2018      

Invited Moderator and Speaker. "Media and Communication." Beyond Academia Conference 2018. Clark Kerr Campus, UC Berkeley.

November 2017      

"Melodramatic Minimalism: Music and History in Guadagnino's Io sono l'amore." Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA). 115th Annual Conference. Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii.

March 2017      

Featured Speaker. "Inside Dope: Life as a Humanist."

Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley.

November 2017 and November 2016   

Guest Lecturer and Performer. "19th-Century Europe: Opera and Risorgimento." Introductory Course in History of Italian Culture. UC Berkeley.

September 2016

Invited Speaker. "What I Wish I Did in Graduate School." Beyond Academia, UC Berkeley. 

October 2015     

Invited Speaker. “Singing Culture: The Italian Language and the Birth of Opera.” Co-presented with SF Opera Dramaturg Kip Cranna. Italian Cultural Institute, San Francisco.


June 2015      

Invited Speaker. “Between Stage and Screen: Verdi’s La traviata.” College of Marin.


December 2014      

Featured Speaker. “Italian in Performance: Opera as a Holistic Framework for Language Pedagogy.” Berkeley Language Center, UC Berkeley.


October 2013      

“Verdi’s Forgetful Consumers: Lega Nord’s Va, Pensiero.” New York University and American Institute for Verdi Studies.


September 2012 

“How Does Neorealism Sound? The Case of Umberto D.” King’s College London, Music and Politics in Britain and Italy, 1933-1968.


April 2012

“Consumed by Sex: The Scandal of Verdi’s La Traviata Between Street and Stage.” Co-presented with Professor of Music Mary Ann Smart. UC Berkeley.


February 2012

“Music, Mourning, and Rituals: The Close-Up Seriality of Treme.” Yale University.


September 2011

“Inside/Outside the Academic Discourse: Antonio Pennacchi’s Fascio e Martello. Viaggio per le città del Duce.” University of Southern California. Los Angeles.


January 2009

“Su! Del Nilo... Verdi’s Aida and Fascist Appropriation.” The Royal Musical Association, London.


November 2008

“Verdi’s Aida and Fascist appropriation”. The Performances of Power or the Powers of Performance. Centre for the Study of International Governance, Loughborough University, UK.

Fellowships and Awards


Staff Recognition Award. Department of Sociology, UC Berkeley.


Berkeley Language Center Fellowship.

2012 - 2013

Dean's Normative Time Fellowship


Arts Research Center Fellowship

2009 - 2012

Townsend Center Mellon Discovery Fellowship

2009 - 2011

UC Berkeley Regents' Fellowship



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 © Marina Romani 2019