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Articles by: Samantha Janazzo

  • "Boy With a Basket of Fruit" Caravaggio
    Art & Culture

    Caravaggio's "Still Life" Comes Alive in the Galleria Borghese

    The Borghese Gallery in Rome has introduced an exhibition called “The Origin of Still Life in Italy- Caravaggio and the Master of Hartford," which will be on display until February 19, 2017.

    From the beginning of history, Rome has experienced thousands of years of social, political, and cultural transitions. Today, the city continues to be steeped in culture and saturated with art. From the pottery and sculptures of the Ancient Greek and Roman World to the oil paintings of the Renaissance, Caravaggio bridges polytheistic mythology to the monotheistic Christianity of his time.

    The magnificent collection showcases a range of 40 pieces that embody similar characteristics to Caravaggio himself. The collection includes “Basket of Fruit” from the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan, along with “Young Sick Bacchus” and “Boy with a Basket of Fruit” all by Caravaggio. Crucial to the exhibition for their deep styilstic similarities are still life portraits by the "Hartford Master.”  

    Curators at the Borghese Gallery have focused on exposing a specific concentration: a display of the progression of stationary naturalism to create a timeline from the beginning of Caravaggio’s still life portraiture through his later years. In order to preserve the still life tradition artists such as Vincenzo Campi, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, and Giovanni Antonio Figino are displayed to strengthen the transition of style, as well as the Master of Hartford, whose work is so similar to Caravaggio that many believe he is the identity of the pseudonym.  

    Four paintings attributed to the Master of Hartford from Federico Zeri's collection, originally from the Scipione Borghese collection, are on loan to demonstrate a difference in still life styles, offering an interesting contrast. The juxtaposition adds tenacity and excitement as the viewer is able to see different transitions, styles, and trademarks amongst history’s most impressive still life painters.

    Overall, the collection illustrates a revolution started by Caravaggio and the Master of Hartford, including those who were inspired by and experimented with their work. The challenge of still life painting is just as vigorous as pursing motion.

  • Art & Culture

    The Recreation of Emilia-Romagna's Culinary Legend Pellegrino Artusi

    During the week of Italian Cuisine in the World, Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò hosted the launch of Art-Artusi, a project that premieres a groundbreaking “hackathon” that creates a strong basis for sustainable growth, health, food research, and cultural expansion in the Italian food industry.  A hackathon is an event where people convene to digitize a similar idea through collaborative computer programming. This project specifically targets making an inspiring message accessible to the world.

    Pellegrino Artusi, an Emilia-Romagna native, is the inspiration for the project. His cookbook “The Science of Cooking and the Art of Fine Dining” has established his legacy dating back to the 1800s, granting him recognition in virtually every Italian kitchen for generations. The hackethon project is geared towards the revitalization of his cook book and to focus on signature Italian dishes and the healthy Italian lifestyle.

    To create a hackethon based on such a historic and revolutionary culinary expert is not a simple task. Representing the team at Casa Italiana was Director of Casa Italiana Stefano Albertini; President of Emilia-Romagna Stefano BonacciniGianni Riotta, an Italian journalist for La Stampa and former Editor-in-Chief of Il Sole 24 OreSimona Caselli, Councilor for Agriculture of Emilia-Romagna; and Andrea Segre, head of the Scientific Committee of Casa Artusi.

    Together they explained that this is not just a digitization of a cookbook, but rather a representation of Italian culture. It connects international viewers to the man who solidified the foundation of Italian gastronomy almost 200 years ago. It focuses on the food produced by our grandparents, passed down kitchen to kitchen, generation to generation. It goes beyond the recipes and the hands that prepared it to the production of the food and the quality of what we put into our bodies. This hackathon vouches for openness in living prospects everywhere and the quality and efficiency of the food we eat everyday. 

    Simona Casella provided a helpful metaphor to understand the hackathon and the significance in their undertaking. She compared it to the process of making the perfect Parmesan cheese, which dates back to the work of the monks in the thirteenth century. By using the same milk with new technology, we can create an exact replica in quality and taste without the historic process. Recreating and digitizing the renowned cookbook builds a foundation of the perfect combination in which we can discover, or rediscover, and bring forth ideal communication of Italian cuisine and culture. In this way there is an important message: technology doesn’t divide, it unifies. It connects the past to the present and constructs a network from one country to the next.

    Art-Artusi is a promotion for technology in the food industry. Without innovation, staple kitchen ingredients, such as dried pasta and tomato preserves, would have never been brought from Italy to the rest of the world. The same can be said for transportation and its effect on international food trade. This project stands for innovation and technology in the sense of how creativity and limitless ideas can form solutions in the food industry around the globe.

    “The essence of our agriculture is to guarantee freshness and safety from the soil to the table,” Casella states as she admits that the food industry is very different in the United States. Her invocation to bring this project to NYC was rooted in one very important commonality: Emilia-Romagna and New York City are both centers for economy and production in their respected countries. Parma, the UNESCO gastronomical center of the world, and Bologna, the culinary capital of Italy, are the backbone of the Italian economy and centers of the Emilia-Romagna region.

    Consul General of Italy, Francesco Genuardi, endorsed the Emilia-Romagna project stating that he truly appreciates what they are doing for NYC and for the rest of the world. He feels that this will help people understand Italian culinary culture and Artusi as an appropriate symbol for Italian cuisine.

    Over Skype, Riotta explains how extraordinary and particular Italian culture can be, how every region, city, neighborhood, and home has their own version of “Italian cooking.” Artusi is the band that ties everything and everyone together, it shares his culture to the world through the true definition of traditional Italian recipes and techniques.

    Stefano Bonaccini, the Emilia-Romagna Governor, says that food is an art and like anything it should be studied and perfected. Just like fashion, it is a culture and business that is extremely important to the world and to Italy. This project creates a powerful message for food sustainability and Italian pride that must begin in Italy before being spread to other countries.

    Artusi has been at the heart (and in the stomachs) of home cooking in Italy and around the world. Italians have memories of their mothers and grandmothers referring to the Artusi cookbook as if it contained the same holy information like the Bible itself. The most powerful message can be made in one simple phrase--in the way food brings people together and allows for simple communication and growth, food is a message for peace.

  • The Radiant Sophia Loren credit: tonyvaccaro.studio
    Art & Culture

    Tony Vaccaro Retrospective; Photography as a Timeless Art

    The Tony Vaccaro Studio has collaborated with the Monroe Gallery of Photography to host an opening reception on November 11, 2016 to present the first NYC retrospective of Tony Vaccaro’s incredible photography called War, Peace, and Beauty. In an essay by Peter Frank from the catalog Tony Vacarro: War, Peace, Beautyhe beautifully covers the life of the photographer and his rise through his successful career to accompany the collection of images that will remain on display until November 21.

    The retrospective is a physical compilation put together as a tribute to the development of Vaccaro’s emotional impact on the wide range of the photographic arts. It is a vivid embodiment of his brilliance of technique and adaptability over the 70 years of his photographic career. Each of his images entices the viewer to empathize with the subjects of the photos, providing a personal experience with each snapshot. He single-handedly created a new generation for photography and lived through the transitional epoch of multimedia and mass media production, all while simultaneously capturing images that modernize with time.

    Though he was born in Pennsylvania, Vaccaro and his two sisters were shuttled back and forth between Italy and the US. Between World War II and mafia threats they could barely identify with a home until being left orphaned and raised by their uncle. Vaccaro found a sense of security exploring his father’s hometown during his youth, until returning to the United States in 1939 for high school.

    In 1943, Vaccaro purchased his own camera; with miraculous balance, technical skill, and a keen eye for emotion, it was as if photography was ingrained in his DNA. In that same year the US Army called upon him, and he was drafted to combat in The Second World War. This vocation did not dim his burning passion for photography; in fact, it was not a hindrance at all.

    During his years oversees he shot over 8,000 photos from Normandy to Berlin. He focused on every aspect of war from the food staff in the kitchen to the 83 Infantry Division just two weeks after D-Day. Truly impacting and heart wrenching images were captured, some of which are on display at the in New York City; however, many were unfortunately lost.

    Among the 2,000 surviving WWII images, there were many iconic and famous photos such as White Death, Hitler’s Window, and The Last Step - a photo taken through the barbed wired of a concentration camp in Belgium. After the war he remained in Germany to continue photography before returning to the land of opportunity to let his career flourish in a different light.

    The next chapter of his life was split between New York City and Rome, freelancing for virtually every major photo magazine. High fashion became his new career focusing point. He was on a quest for beauty, and he was determined to capture it. With that level of inspiration he created a legacy for himself and worked coast to coast with Hollywood’s elite.

    This transition is visible though the work of The Tony Vaccaro Studio and the Monroe Gallery of Photography. There is an abrupt change from dark, snow covered, war-torn photography to bright, luxurious fashion and sparkling celebrities. The viewer is able to grasp and transition with Vaccaro through his waves of life, getting a sense for his artistic mindset amongst the pandemonium of inspiration that he spent his life delving into.

    His ability to cover such a rich range of genres and execute such vivid emotion and feelings resonates so strongly from image to image. His impression resounds on today’s high-end photography, ending the era that portrayed celebrities as a part of a realm that was intangible to every day consumers. Instead, he photographs them as people in their natural embodiment, something that the world had never seen before.

    Other images include Jackson Pollock with a furrowed brow, Enzo Ferrari with a suspended prized vehicle blurred in the background, Frank Lloyd Wright with arms spread passionately in the middle of a lecture, Peggy Guggenheim in a gondola down the Venetian Grand Canal, John F. Kennedy standing proudly in Washington DC and so many more. His talent was photographing inner emotions: the deepest thoughts and the concerns. He was constantly seeking the exact moment where the raw truth bursts through and snapping it before it recoils.

    Vaccaro created a medium of a specific artistic platform for uniformity: from celebrities and models to candid bystanders in the cobblestone streets of Italy, he photographs each genre with the same signature style. Whether it's looking through his WWII images or Sophia Loren naturally smiling while glancing over her shoulder, wearing her perfection as make up. The experience is so personal the viewer can almost hear her laughing as if he has added a sound-bit to the flawless black and white becuase Vacarro has the ability to place the viewer into the center of his photography; understanding the photo as if it were a film.

    His tumultuous past is what created his strength to continue photography through the carnage of the war and to bring that influence into his art. He found his passion for photography, brought it to the battlefield in the 1940s, and hasn’t stopped since.

    These emotions, the pain, and the art itself are present at the Monroe Gallery of Photography- the title “War, Peace, and Beauty” derives from Vaccaro’s journey through photography and through the world’s beauty and brutality. The retrospective itself is a chronological transition of all the imagery where each photo, regardless of the time it was taken or the scenery in the background, has a little war peace and beauty hidden deep within. Vaccaro is able to capture every essence of truth within his photography, creating a timeless art. 

  • One of the powerful photos taken by Blaustein in 1966
    Art & Culture

    The Flood Exhibit Opens at the Italian Cultural Institute

    Fifty years ago today a great city was engulfed by an unforeseen disaster; the Arno River’s levees overflowed, causing horrifying destruction to Florence. No dollar sign could amount to the price of the years of history that were diminished in this disaster. Lives and homes were lost, priceless works of art were ruined, and great risks were taken to restore the city as best as possible.

    In an effort to not only commemorate the loss 50 years ago but also to bring awareness to the growing risk of the levees overflowing today, the Italian Cultural Institute in New York created "The Flood" exhibit. Images from the 1966 Florentine tragedy by American Joe Blaustein and images of the flooding in New York City after Hurricane Sandy by Italian Massimo Berruti are displayed together. To further venerate the 50-year anniversary of the flood, a New York City-based catering company provided a beautiful spread of Tuscan sweets.

    Blaustein witnessed the days of treacherous restoration after the flood. Being a photographer, he documented the emotions and actions that took place after the tragedy. His images vividly memorialize the destroyed city, the hardships that followed, and the incalculable damage of the flood. It was by chance he was in Florence at this time, he was called to Italy for academic and employment purposes, when the flood hit he took to the city with his camera November 4, 1966, and captured the painful but powerful footage.

    For years, the photos were stored safely in a vault in his home until much later in his life when he decided to donate the rare images to the Archive of the Municipality of Florence, where the pieces were restored and properly displayed. Though very few images are in color, the monochromatic footage is extremely moving.

    Now, currently on display at the Italian Cultural Institute, an interesting juxtaposition is formed. The American photographer’s images from 1966 are displayed in tandem with Italian photographer Massimo Berruti’s 2012 footage of the destruction of Hurricane Sandy in New York City just days after the harsh rainfall.

    The concept of having both an American photographing a historic travesty in Florence 50 years ago and an Italian documenting similar devastation in and around New York City just a few years ago, truly advocates a message of a strong connection between the two cultures. When one country hurts, the other feels it and is immediately drawn to awareness.

    Blaustein and his son attended the event along with Berruti and the Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella. Together they showed their support for the efforts in Florence to continue to diminish the risk of another flood. Both the 1966 images and the 2013 photographs bring awareness to the power of nature, and how little control human beings have in comparison to it.

    Today, Florence continues to protect its city with great efforts to reduce the risk of another levee collapse. A qualified team of architects work each day to protect the home of so many people and priceless pieces of rich cultural history.

  • Left to right: The Ferrari FFX K, the Formula 1 Scuderia, and the Challenge 458 EVO Photo credit: http://finalimondiali2015.ferrari.com/it/
    Art & Culture

    Ferrari World Finals in Daytona

    This year the Ferrari Finali Mondiali (World Finals) will be held in Daytona Beach, Florida from December 1-4. This invigorating event will wrap up the 8 previous races of the Ferrari Challenge, and the United States is proud to host the World Finals for the first time in the 22 year history of the event. Certified and acredited racers from around the world take to the track in Ferrari 458 Challenge EVOs. This vehicle is a modified version of the 458 with the sole purpose of being track-driven. During final four exhilarating days at the Daytona International Speedway, cars from the world renowned Italian automaker will heat up the racetrack and exemplify some of the worlds most incredible mechanical designs.

    Prior to Daytona, races were held around the world from March to November. The World Finals event is the culmination of the Europe, United States, and Asia-Pacific championships. The various circuit tracks in each of the three championships tests both the drivers' skills and the mechanical precision of the cars.

    Daytona is preparing for four iconic days of pure Ferrari excitement. The first day will consist of driver briefings, safety checks, and practice rounds. On Friday, drivers will take to the track for the first qualifiying round and the first official race. Saturday will bring the second qualifying round and the second official race. Finally, the race for the coveted title of campione del mondo (world championship) will take place on Sunday.

    Also much anticipated is an exhibition surrounding Ferrari's historic Scuderia Formula 1 cars. The Scuderia Ferrari has been in Formula 1 races since 1950. The qualified team of mechanics will display their cars and demonstrate the proper execution of pit-stops. The public will also enjoy watching intense accelerations and top-speed laps. A third highlight of World Finals will be the XX Programmes. These programs allow special clients of Ferrari to participate in vehicle testing sessions to design the next generation of Ferraris. The FXX-K is the latest model designed from this program.

    22 years in the making, this historic event continues to draw drivers from all over the world. It is truly an insightful look into past and future of the Ferrari brand.

    General admission tickets can be purchased on the Daytona International Speedway website.

  • "Venus of Urbino" Titian
    Art & Culture

    "The Revenge of Color Over Line" Bridges Together Venice and Tuscany's Renaissance Oil Painting

    The Revenge of Color over Line” is a new exhibition in the Uffizi Gallery currently on display in the Cabinet of Drawings and Prints. It focuses on 16th Century Venetian painting style and its influence on artwork around Italy. These pieces are on display until January 8, 2017 from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

    Since Tuesday, October 18, many captivated enthusiasts have marveled at the 43 newly exhibited drawings that have been preserved from the 16th century. The name “The Revenge of Color over Line” derives from the transition of the artistic time period where simple ideas that seemed impossible were properly implemented in art. Most importantly, the exposition credits the Venetian artists, mostly educated by the 16th Century Venetian School, for embracing the constant inclusion of vivid colors into their work over the use of strong lines. Jacopo Bassano, Tiziano VecellioCanaletto, and many more created a dialogue between their sketches and paintings with the rest of Italy, marking thier terratory with bright coloration and blurred lines. It is unavoidable to recognize the heavy use of red and blue of Venetian works and their contagious influence on the art around Italy. 

    By accompanying sketches and oil paintings in the same gallery, even if they are from different cities, an interesting juxtoposition is created. The works exemplify a clear understanding of influence Venice had on the rest of Italy, and why these works continue to hail today. Attendees are able to enter into the mindset of the artists, to witness each motion of innovation, and to understand the sight of genius that changed the known art world. One can almost sense an artistic conversation through Italy, a communication through the arts based on inspiration and innovation.

    The 16th century was an extremely prominent period for European art that was primarily headlined by the work of Italians. Perspective, motion, and the third dimension were simply ideas that have never been successfully placed in artwork before. Having only been seen and created in the minds of artistic geniuses, long periods of trial and error made up many years of the 14th through 17th centuries before successful execution. Artwork advanced so greatly as the Renaissance thinkers broke from the flat work of Byzantium and created pieces that exploded from their flat backgrounds; the process is truly what is on display at the Uffizi.

    The pieces are found on the second floor, a room specifically chosen by Cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici to exhibit over 100,000 drawings from the most sophisticated artists of his time; Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raffaello, Sandro Botticelli, Filippino Lippi and many other Renaissance pioneers. It was a time where artists were not simply artists; they were scientists, mathematicians, and astronomers. They understood the world in a way that was so ahead of their time, some of their productions are considered “lost art” today. 

    Emotions were evoked in this world of art, scandals were created, relations were made and alliances were broken. Everlasting legacies were produced and the priceless pieces and famous names of the 16th century Venetian School are learned today in the classrooms and desired to be seen around the world. The bright colors are a metaphor for the beauty of the port city and the desire to place it into art, the Uffizi embraces the vivid imagery by placing them in the same vicinity as other paintings from the same era to challenge its revelers, does color triumph over line?

  • Rome Film Fest 2016
    Rome Film Fest 2016
    Art & Culture

    Rome Film Festival Recap & Highlights

    After 10 incredible days of celebration for the creative arts in cinema, the Rome Film Fest  2016 came to a close on October 23. The Auditorium Parco Della Musica, a gorgeous Renzo Piano design, was the perfect setting for the star-studded event since its initiation in 2003.  Listed below are the 2016 film winners and their categories.

    “What Jacques Saw” by Xavier Diskeuva of Belgium and “We’ve Forgotten More Than We ever Knew” by the American Thomas Woodrow both won Best Domestic Narrative Feature.

    “Cheerleader” by Irving Franco of the United States and “The Arbalest” by Adam Pinney also from the United States both won special Jury Prize for Narrative Feature.

    “Clarence” by Kristin Catalano from the United States won Best Documentary Feature.

    “Head” by Winston Azzopardi from Malta and “Guidance” by American Josh Wolff won Best Foreign Narrative Short.

    “Love Bite” Laurie Lipton and her "Disturbing Black & White Drawings” by James Scott of the United States won Best Documentary Short.

    “Notorious Corn” by Mallory Grolleu of France won Best-animated Film.

    “Artifice” by Steven Doxey of the United States won Best in Show: Feature and “Head” by Windston Azzopardi of Malta won Best in Show: Short.

    One of the major attractions of attending the Rome Film Fest is a panel for experienced critics who come together and indulge in rich discussion and debate about various international independent movies. This year the honored hosts Justin Chang from the LA times, Julien Gester from the Libération, and A.O. Scott from the NY Times delegated the panel with inspiring speeches that shed light on the bond between film and press, and the challenge and inspiration that the mediatization of our world brings to the industry as we are growing steadfast with dependency on technology.

    On October 22 Captain Fantastic by Matt Ross triumphed as “BNL Peoples Choice Award.” This film starred Viggo Mortensen who received a standing ovation for his emotional performance. Later in the week Tom Hanks was granted the lifetime achievement award for his countless years of success in the American film industry, while Meryl Streep and many other celebrities were interviewed and present.

    Rapping with a total of 72 Films, 50 Tributes, 26 Countries, 16 Screening rooms, and hundreds of screenings, from open to close the event was rich with celebrities, directors, actresses and actors who all opened up in a personal interview segment called “close encounters.”

    The closing day was marked with the largest red carpet in the world. Roberto Benigni brought his comedic whit with an apology for missing his "close encounter" interview due to that fact that he was dining with US president Barack Obama.

    The carpet sparkled with film and television stars from around the world, some seeking their big break, others living in the limelight. The event was filled with international buyers, sale agents, and producers who came from around the world seeking future film stars, and inspiration for TV series, documentaries, video games - they don’t call Rome the eternal city for nothing!

  • The front cover of Depsero's "Bolted Book"
    Art & Culture

    The Revival of the Italian Futurist Era

    October 18, 2016, publication company Designers & Books launched a promotion through American public-benefit corporation Kickstarter to publish new facsimile edition of Fortunato Depero’s manifesto Depero Futurista. This is a true contribution and accolade to the massive impact Depero left on Italian Futurism and on Italian modern culture today.

    The launch was courtesy of the tri-collaborative effort by The Center of Italian Modern Art (CIMA) in NYC, which displayed the pages of Depero Futurista in an exposition called Unbolted on the walls of their gallery. The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto, in Italy, along with Designers & Books, in New York, came together with Kickstarter to continue the promotion for the creative arts project. Through their collaboration they have already raised $115,000 towards their goal of $249,000. With just a few short weeks left, the fundraiser ends December 1, they maintain high hopes of raising enough to put their extraordinary project in action.

    The 1927 Book Facsimile will be an exact replica of the extremely rare original copy created by Depero that has been primarily showcased in permanent collections, museums, and libraries around the world. It includes the unique aluminum bolted binding, thick blue covers, multicolored pages, and an English readers guide with translations and key elements of the original book in Italian. On Nobember 3, CIMA is offering the incredible opportunity to view an authentic copy, reservations are required and can be obtained without charge at www.italianmodernart.org.

    Futurism was an Italian social movement in the early 20th century that encompassed artwork of all mediums and provoked speed and innovation. The publication of manifestos was a principal attribute to the futurist era because it created a spectrum of sequences for the various ideas central to futurism. Amongst the texts, similar to Depero Futurista, were images of unseen technology, bold adventure, unconventional youth, and revolutionary drawings that pushed the limits of the present-day mindset compiled into one concise form.

    The 240 pages of Depero Futurista or "Depero the Futurist" galvanize the viewer with images between the bolted pages of explorations, experiments, advertisements, and ideas comprised of various colors and typography that dig deep into artist's mindset. It encompasses a mixture of text and shapes to create a platform for a futuristic morality that unveil intuitive inventions that were far beyond the platform of the Italian 1920s.

    The facsimile brings the machine age as a centerpiece to any designer book collection, as the piece is a true masterpiece of avant-garde bookmaking. The recreation has been designed and approved by the experts of the MART and CIMA who have specialized in the work of Depero and others after exhibiting futurism art throughout the history of their galleries.

    Designer & Books was founded on the idea of reproducing historic books that have been out of print. They have embarked on the journey of duplicating Depero Futurista with their mission of connecting to a specialized audience who contain a respect and understanding for the importance for historic book revival especially of the Italian Futuristic era.

    This project can be backed through Kickstarter at bit.ly/BoltedBook

  • Divo Nerone Logo, the Great Roman Fire
    Art & Culture

    Rock Opera "Divo Nerone" to Be Performed Atop Ancient Roman Ruins

    Three-time Oscar winner, production designer and art director Dante Ferretti, Oscar winner set designer Francesca Lo Schiavo, Oscar winner costume designer Gabriella Pescucci, Grammy winner lyricist Franco Migliacci, Oscar winner composer Luis Bacalov, and director/choreographer Gino Landi are all collaborating to create Rock Opera Divo Nerone to be staged atop Rome’s utmost controversial ruins—The Domus Aureawhere Nero lived and ruled the Roman Empire from AD 54-68.

    The show will be performed in both Italian and English with a cast of 26 dancer-acrobats and 12 singer-actors with a set that consists of 28 scene changes, 36 musical numbers, and a massive revolving outdoor stage that includes archeologically revived elements from the Coliseum debuting June 1, 2017. 

    "The Domus Aurea" in Latin or "The Golden Palace" in English has undergone years of reconstruction and stability testing. It was even closed for over 20 years in fear of its collapse; a truly shame as it is a clear window to the past, a true gem of the city. The show will be held less than one mile from the site, with breathtaking views of the Coliseum flanking the background in Vigna Barberini on the Palatine Hill directly inside the Roman Forum.

    Divo Nerone was inspired by numerous controversies that encompassed the 31 years of Nero’s political sovereignty as emperor of Ancient Rome. The opera focuses on the final 14 years of his political career and life. Having come to power at a very young age, Nero's upbringing was of a particular limitless splendor. With the high education by tutor Seneca, groundbreaking architecture, and the innovation of Ancient Roman technology, the young emporer was spoiled rotten by his privileges. The opera shows the transition from his innocent youth to his humorously gluttonous lifestyle.

    The Domus Aurea, the first palace built in Rome by Nero, is the main focus of Feretti's design. It was created from the ashes of the notorious Roman fire of AD 54, rumored to have been initiated by the emporer to built a suitable dwelling, real fire will be used on stage. The original construction was so vast that it covered three of the seven hills that made up the border of Ancient Rome. The palace was embellished with gold leaf, marble, ivory, and a marvelous rotating dining room called the Coenatio Rotunda that contained apertures that rained rose petals and perfume on its guests. This hydro-powered room continues to impact architecture today; it has even inspired Ferretti’s scene production crew to push the limits of backdrops with a multifaceted manufactured rotating set.

    Nero's suicide ended the bloodline connected to Julius Caesar to enter the Flavian Dynasty; who, with their best efforts, destroyed everything that was tied to Nero in an act called damnatio memoriae. However, the ancient act of condemnation that buried Nero's palace and defaced the colossal statue that marked where the Coliseum would be built 30 years after Nero’s death could not stop his legend as modern culture revitalizes his story today.  3% of ticket proceeds will go towards the restoration of the Domus Aurea and the Coenatio Rotunda.

     

    (For a great guide about the Colosseum please check www.bookmundi.com/t/the-colosseum-a-must-visit)

  • Opera expert Fred Plokin in conversation with mezzo-soprano Marianna Pizzolato
    Art & Culture

    Fred Plotkin Interviews Marianna Pizzolato after Met Debut

    Fred Plotkin kicks off another season of “Adventures in Italian Opera,” a live broadcasted and extremely popular Casa Italiana series, by interviewing singer Marianna Pizzolato about her journey through Opera and her American debut at the Metropolitan Opera House.

    Pizzolato grew up singing mostly Italian music, beginning her career as a young child in her local Sicilian church choir and playing the tenor saxophone. “Music chose me” Pizzolato states when describing the long and distinguished pedigree of her career in Opera. From her local church to the Sistine Chapel, studying at the Conservatorio Bellini in Palermo, and an opera debut in Piacenza as the lead in Tancredi we learn that the mezzo-soprano grew up performing Rossini. From Tancredi in 2004 she performed the peice Di Tanti Palpiti; which Plotkin deems the “perfect opera song.” It is a song that requires expressiveness and technicality, knowing the exact moments to take a breath. Though Plokin defines the song as simple, it requires certain energy, emotion. 

    Pizzolato’s debut in America as Isabella in L’Italiana in Algeri by Giochino Rossini just last year. Rossini created the opera in 1813 when he was just 21 years old, a time where the regions of modern day Italy endured war with Napoleon. When Rossini could have written a war-torn tragedy with strong male characters, he consequently decided to write a comedy with a strong and intelligent female lead instead.

    Pizzolato was truly honored to take the leading role, able to connect with the character on a deep Sicilian level, and bond through the mix of cultures and naturally immersed with what Plotkin calls “Italian-ness.” Historically, Isabella is a complex character, stranded in North African after a shipwreck, but Rossini created her to be played in various different lights, according to Plotkin

    However, each Isabella contains one important commonality, their pride for Italy. Rossini was inherently years ahead of his time with this vision, as Italy was still a land made up of different regions and cities. He created Isabella as an encouragement not only for her viewers, but also for artists to express their spirit of Italian-ness.

    When speaking about her opening show at the Met, she never imagined a space of such grandeur could feel so intimate. She speaks about how she thought it was impossible that her voice alone could reach the very last row of seats, but years of practice combined with the incredible acoustics of the Met created a masterpiece.

    She discussed her technique, how she practices coloratura, or the art of singing the notes as if they are ahead, not inside of you. It is a mechanism of following them and joining the sound with breath, avoiding singing from the throat.

    Pizzolati looks forward to performing L’Italiana in Algeri in the Middle East next month. Plotkin is preparing for an Opera trip through Italy with The New York Times where he will continue refining his operatic expertise.

    Follow future shows via live streaming and even ask questions that Plotkin will answer himself at the end of the session by tuning in on www.casaitaliananyu.org

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