Articles by: N, L.

  • Life & People

    Marche & the Splendor of Italian Opera

    “My passion for opera started with my love for cinema. When I was little my parents took me to see first The Magic Flute by Ingmar Bergman. I was really little, about 4 years old, and it was incredibly suggestive but still it did not really leave a scar on me. Then when I was 12 I saw Amadeus by Milos Forman and that's what truly “ruined” me. It left a permanent scar. So when I started making my own choices and going after what I liked I started going to the opera and I still have not stopped.”

    This is what Award-winning director and director of the Macerata Opera Festival  Francesco.
    Micheli confessed to i-Italy after his lecture held at Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò Marche and the Splendor of Italian Opera, a special presentation that was part of  the series Marche Is Good, a month of events in New York dedicated to the whole region.

    After his bachelor of arts degree in modern literature, Francesco Micheli, graduated from the Civica Scuola d'Arte Drammatica "Paolo Grassi" (Academy of Dramatic Arts) in Milan. Right after school, he started working as assistant director for opera productions by the Region of Tuscany, the Region of Lombardy and the Festival of Wexford.

    His debut as a director dates back to 1997 with  La Cantarina  by Niccolò Piccinni, for the Museo del Teatro alla Scala. Through the years he is the author of innovative pieces that are the perfect combination between a concert and a show, with the aim to bring forth a lyrical theater of experimentation.   Such personal quest brings him to collaborate with several theaters: for Romolo Valli in Reggio Emilia he produced W Verdi, for Teatro Sociale di Como he presented Da Vivaldi a Pasolini and Da Verdi a Mina, and for Teatro Giacosa in Ivrea he created Diva. In 2012 he became Artistic Director of the  Sferisterio Opera Festival in Macerata and subsequently he becomes Artistic Director of the Teatro Sferisterio.

    “At the beginning, when I first fell in love with opera, I realized that my peers and other generations pretty much close to mine were totally indifferent to it. I felt the need to put out there shows that represented opera the way I enjoyed it, as theater, a theater that is close to life. A theater that would involve all the younger generations that enjoy Hollywood films. The stories told in opera are just like psychological and gory thrillers you see at the movies today. Most of Verdi's work can inspire current Hollywood flicks. Pretty Woman, for example, is a sort of rewriting of La Traviata. Simon Boccanegra and Don Carlo are great thrillers that would do great at the box office. Generally speaking, we can also say that Italian American cinema has stolen a lot from opera. Cinema is an offspring of opera.”

    So when Romano Carancini, the mayor of Macerata, wanted to renew theSferisterio Opera Festival, bringing it closer to contemporaneity, he thought of maestro Marchini. “He had seen my work, he was interested in it and so we started collaborating. I couldn't be happier.”

    The small yet rich region of Marche is known for its music. “The timeless masterpieces of Gioacchino Rossini, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, and Gaspare Spontini are just the beginning of the many rich musical enclaves. Boasting over 70 active historical theaters, all authentic architectural jewels. Music is well alive today, like yesterday, with young composers ready to carry on a prestigious tradition with celebrated musical events such as the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, the Sferisterio Opera Festival in Macerata, and the Pergolesi Spontini Festival in Jesi. Melodious are also the universal verses of Leopardi, a beacon from the Romanticism for all the modern and contemporary poets.”  

    In his lecture, maestro Micheli introduced the unique and rich operatic tradition of the Marche region, talked about the origins of Opera Houses and the Italian genius behind their construction, explained the job of the director (“a director is someone who knows how to create an ambiance and an invisible threqad that connects the performers to the audience”) and spoke about the Sferisterio Opera Festival that is dedicated (from 2013- 2015) to Giuseppe Verdi (the program for 2014 features Aida, Tosca and La Traviata). “Verdi was not from Marche,” maestro Micheli explained, “but he is one of the greatest, it would have been a sin not to represent his work.”

    The event also included a selection of arias performed live and was followed by a tasting of wine and food from Marche... other jewels from this wonderful region.

  • Events: Reports

    Theater With No Boundaries with the Directors of the WorldWideLab

    Their mission is to share stories from far and near with audiences all around the world. Yes, they are some sort of super heroes and they mean business: through theater, borders can become inconsequential.

    They are twelve members of the 2010 Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab who have continued to collaborate with one another in a way that would draw on the best elements of their Lab experience.

    “While the role of Director can often be insular, the members were inspired by the opportunity to share their techniques, their ideas, their stories _ all of which are deeply rooted in the places they come from and the experiences they have had. The geographic and cultural diversity serves as its inspiration for WorldWideLab: A Directors Festival. The work WWL presents will be possible through an openness to learn from, and share with, their collaborators.”

    Over the past three years they have conceived different programs, and this year's is presented from September 4th-7th at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn.

    The World Wide Lab consists of the following directors: Ioli Andreadi (London, England / Athens, Greece), Jocelyn Yuchia Chang (Taipei, Taiwan), Chang Nai Wen (Taipei, Taiwan / Berlin, Germany), Laura Caparrotti (New York City / Rome, Italy), Evan T. Cummings (New York City), Annie G Levy (New York City), Esther Jun (Toronto, Canada), Orly Noa Rabinyan (Tel Aviv, Israel), Vidhu Singh (San Francisco/New Delhi, India), Jay Stern (New York City), Laura Tesman (New York City) and Evan Tsitsias (Toronto, Canada). Over two weeks of rehearsals the directors have prepared two separate anthology programs exploring moments in the life of a  (Program A: Two is Company) as well as a study of community (Program B: Alone in the Crowd)..

    The WorldWideLab is a truly international collective, with members who are creating dynamic, diverse and engaging work in every corner of the globe. First coming together as members of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in the summer of 2010, WWL desired to continue collaborating with each other in a way that would draw on the best elements of their Lab experience.

    “The WorldWideLab is a concept in continuous development,” Laura Caparrotti told i-Italy, “we took off with great enthusiasm at Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab – where we all met – and we decided to continue. This is our second year at the Irondale Center. The basic idea is to have two or more directors collaborate, which is obviously not an easy feat as the director, by definition, is a sort of dictator within the theater system. We are all about collaboration and sharing... we share the space where we rehearse, we share the same actors (there are only 14 actors who participate in the 6 productions) , we share our time. And all this is put together in only two weeks of rehearsals, then there is one week of performances! It is an exciting theater experiment that puts together people of different cultures and languages and forces them to confront each other.”

    This year the lab is a little more Italian, and Laura explains why; “Every year we introduce new actors and this year I brought the actors of Young KIT. In December 2012, Kairos Italy Theater, a theater company whose mission is to create a cultural exchange program between Italy, the US and the international community, to unveil artistic and creative sides of these two countries to the world. has opened its stage to young Italian talents in NY.  It just seemed natural to me... they are young, full of talent and they incorporate this idea that theater has no borders. Some of them, like Jacopo Rampini and Ilaria Ambrogi, participated last year as well, while for others this is their first experience with the lab. In just a few words, we are the living example that globalization is positive and it can really encourage dialogue.”

    And after New York the dialogue may continue in Rome! Indeed Italy's capital will be the first international city to host the lab outside of the United States...

    “Rome is the first city to host the World Wide Lab outside NYC. We were planning to grow internationally since we started but it took some time to define what exactly we were doing at the Lab and reuniting in NYC helped to maintain a sense of continuity in this process of self-definition,” Orly Noa Rabinyan said. “Finally now we feel we are ready as a group to introduce a new location, break our own rules, face new challenges. We believe Rome will be the perfect place to do all that.”

    Another reason Rome was chosen is indeed Laura Caparrotti herself. “Laura brings Italy with her to World Wide Lab: from her accent to her artistic references of Dino Buzzati and Pasolini, from her pasta cooking to the Italian actors she regularly involves in the WWLab ensembles. Through Laura's presence Rome became an inspiration to all of us. Our hope is that each country represented at the World Wide Lab would host us at some point in the future.”

    WWL is supported in part by: Taipei Ministry of Culture, Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York, Taiwan Academy, Israeli Consul of Cultural Affairs, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Canada Consul for the Arts and in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute in NY and Brooklyn College.

    Performances as follows:

    Program A: Wednesday, Sept 4th@7:30PM, Friday, Sept 6th@7PM, Saturday, Sept 7th @4PM

    Program B: Thursday, Sept  5th@7:30PM, Friday, Sept 6th@9:30PM, Saturday, Sept 7th@7:30PM

    Program A: Two is Company

    The inner and outer life of a woman is explored. This presentation examines the rites and rituals involved when people come together and things fall apart. Included are segments based on or inspired by:

    Waxing West by Saviana Stanescu, Directed by Vidhu Singh & Laura Caparrotti

    WEDDING an adaptation inspired by Brecht, Directed by Orly Noa Rabinyan & Evan Tsitsias

    The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin, Directed by Laura Tesman, Orly Noa Rabinyan & Jocelyn Yuchia Chang

    Program B: Alone in the Crowd

    A theatrical study of community and the individual’s place within it. This presentation explores how small moments create the tapestry of our lives. Included are segments created/devised from:

    Agamemnon by Aeschylus, Directed by Ioli Andreadi and Jay Stern; adapted by M. Sweeney Lawless

    Interrupted – A Devised Piece, Directed by Evan Tsitsias, Jocelyn Yuchia Chang & Chang Nai Wen

    Last Request inspired by Franz Xaver Kroetz's Wunschkonzert, Directed by Chang Nai Wen, Esther Jun, Annie G. Levy & Vidhu Singh