New York Arts in Italy
La cultura italiana. Recensioni di mostri, concerti, l’opera, ed altri destinazioni culturali in Italia.
Italy in the Berkshire Review: reviews of exhibitions, concerts, opera, theater, and other cultural destinations in Italy.
The distinguished old master dealer, Robert Simon, held his first exhibition of a contemporary artist this past November and December. Entitled The Third Rome : Allegorical Landscapes of the Modern City, it was devoted to the current work of Pamela Talese, a Brooklyn-based painter known for her haunting views of gritty industrial sites around the Navy Yard and Red Hook. Brought to Rome for the first time in twenty-two years by a fellowship at the American Academy and following up a suggestion by an architectural historian she met there, she began to explore more recent neighborhoods outside the historical center. By “more recent,” I mean areas developed in the 1920s and 1930s, that is, the Fascist Era. Exploring the neighborhoods on her bicycle with her painting box and folding easel strapped on, Ms. Talese felt attracted to certain buildings that stood out for their clean, simple lines and elegant design. These were prime examples of Fascist architecture—modest, functional residential edifices, utilitarian civic structures, and a few public buildings. Virtually none of these appear in the surveys of Fascist architecture—with one notable exception, the Foro Italico (formerly called the Foro Mussolini).
Although like most Italians Milanese breakfast on the run, they always make time for a good lunch. At Salumentaria di Parma, the wine comes in small bowls, the coffee in shot glasses and the crowd, many of them local professionals, pile in starting at noon. As the name suggests, inspiration for the food is that of Parma in northwest Emilia-Romagna, home to the richest tract of farmland in Italy. Parma is associated with parmigiano reggiano, prosciutto and pasta with emphasis on filled versions such as tortellini, tortelli and ravioli, all of which are part of the restaurant’s offerings. Verdi was a regular at the original location in Parma; in tribute, his music fills the air.
Leonard Freed, The Italians, Quantuck Lane Press, 2011, exhibition now at the Museo di Roma in Trastevere through May 27, 2012. The great documentary art photographer's warm-hearted, but sharply observed takes on Italian life between 1956 and 2005 appear in 190 superb duotone illustrations. With an introductory essay in English and Italian by Berkshire Review/New York Arts editor, Michael Miller. The selection of images in the book and in the exhibition was made by Freed's widow, Brigitte and James Mairs, editor at the Quantuck Lane Press. The Italian edition, which is also bilingual and virtually identical, is distributed by the local organizer, Admira.
My days in Bomarzo in 2009 did not show the town at its most industrious...or, on the contrary, perhaps it did. The end of April and the beginning of May mark holiday season in this medieval hill town of fewer than 1800 inhabitants. The third weekend of the month and the weekdays that lead up to it mark the festival of the local saint, Saint Anselm of Bomarzo, the 25th also being the national holiday of the Liberation. The following weekend embraces May Day, the international celebration of the working man and woman, which needs no explanation. A young person asked me why we don't celebrate this holiday in the United States, conjuring up old photos of the police and the National Guard in my mind.
prawled across the east wing that stretches from the papal residence to the Vatican Museums is an inscription commemorating one of Pope Julius II’s most important contributions to the complex now known as the Apostolic Palace: IULIUS II PONT MAX LIGURUM VI PATRIA SAONENSIS SIXTI IIII NEPOS VIAM HANC STRUXIT PONT COMMODITATI. The text is ambiguous in that “VI” may signify the ablative case of the word vis meaning power or strength, or it may stand for the Roman numeral “6.” If the former, it indicates that Julius was the sixth pope from Liguria, the others being Innocent IV (1243-1254), Hadrian V (1276), Nicholas V (1447–1455), Sixtus IV (1471–1484), and Innocent VIII (1484–1492). If the latter, it refers to the indomitable Ligurian spirit that put Julius on the throne of Peter.
If you ever need proof of Shakespeare’s universal appeal, stop by Rome’s Globe Theatre. Within a single evening you’ll be convinced that the Bard, disarmed of dactylic hexameters, can still speak to everyone and anyone. All the more so to Italians when it comes to As You Like It (Come vi piace). Their temperament — irascible, passionate, effusive — stands opposite that of the English but squares precisely with what Shakespeare wanted to lampoon in this subtle masterpiece. Rosalind (Melania Giglio) is so sickly in love with Orlando (Daniele Pecci) that she can barely maintain her act as “Ganymede” in his presence. Duke Frederick (Nicola D’Eramo) hates his brother (also played by D’Eramo) so fiercely that anyone who reminds him of Duke Senior is mindlessly banished from the dukedom. Silvius (Patrizio Cigliano) dotes on Phebe (Barbara Di Bartolo) so cloyingly that the audience would gladly join her in strangling him if only he weren’t so hysterically funny. Each character is a caricature of Italian emotional excess, and no one can make fun of emotional excess better than the excessively emotional Italians.
Since the Mona Lisa affair was reported, other petitions and protests have emerged. Earlier this month (September 17) the protests agains the huge cruise ships that pass through the lagoon in Venice were renewed with vigor. The invaluable Tomaso Montanari has organized a petition against the privatization of the Brera in Milan. At the beginning of the month, in the United States, the New York Times demoted Allan Kozinn, one of its more intelligent music critics, who has been writing for them since 1977 and a staff member since 1991. He is now a "general cultural reporter." Norman Lebrecht, who announced the bad news, received an avalanche of mostly angry and disgusted comments. Petitions were organized on Facebook, urging the Times to change their mind...but to no avail. Kozinn's gone. For some years it has been hard to imagine that once upon a time Paul Griffiths wrote music criticism for The New York Times, and both he and Andrew Porter for The New Yorker.
In a part of Florens 2012, the academics, business figures, and other experts who attend will explore the subjects developed two years ago, within a wide-ranging scheme, specifically tailored for this meeting, mainly the theme: "from the Grand Tour to the Global Tour." Fundamentally, the way the world perceives Italy and enjoys the many extraordinary things the country has to offer descend from the Grand Tour, the capstone of an English aristocrat's education beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing on into our own time, however much its character has been democratized in the twentieth century.