Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Goldoni Theatre 2011-2012 Season & The Hard Rock Cafe(?!)

Teatro Goldoni
Photo: Andreas Praefcke
(Venice, Italy) The Goldoni Theater, home to the Teatro Stabile del Veneto, presented its upcoming season at a conference on Saturday, June 25. Both the press and the general public were invited, and the theater was nearly full on a Saturday afternoon -- a sign of how vital live theater is to Venetians, and how much they love the Goldoni. The meeting got off to a late start. Venetian theater audiences can be vocal and demanding, and don't like to be kept waiting too long. They clap their hands to get things rolling. They holler back if someone speaks too softly. Venetians take their theater seriously because it belongs to them. Unlike the United States, Italy has a Minister of Culture, and the arts and culture are partially subsidized by the government. And you know what? In these difficult times, over the past year the attendance at the Teatro Stabile del Veneto has actually increased!

Allesandro Gassman
Photo: Gianmarco Chieregato
The Teatro Stabile del Veneto "Carlo Goldoni" was founded in 1992 by the Veneto Region, the Comune of Venezia and the city of Padua. Added over the years was the city of Vicenza and the Province of Padua.  Things were rocky for a while, which is usual in the theater business (I have a background in theatre:) but it seems like things have stabilized, and the show will go on! Allesandro Gassman has been the artistic director since January, 2010, and he announced the season. There will be classics like Checkov's The Cherry Garden, and Strindberg's Miss Julie, as well as von Hofmannsthal's Elektra. Venetians love their native son Carlo Goldoni; the season would not be complete without Il Ventaglio

Last year, Gassman introduced something new into the mix. Using some nifty theatre hocus-pocus, he shrunk the formal, majestic 800-seat Goldoni Theatre down into a 150-seat Off-off Broadway (way, way, way off:) type of space, and also put on some dynamic contemporary theatre. Back in May, I was riveted by the powerful, one-woman-show Donna non rieducabile (Woman not re-educable) written by Stefano Massini and starring Ottavia Piccolo about Anna Politkovskaja, the American-born Russian journalist, author and human rights activist, who was assassinated on October 7, 2006 at the age of 48.  Researching Politkovskaja educated me as to the Soviet Union's use of "punitive" or "political psychiatry," a form of torture that the USA also has a history of using against outspoken writers. 

Art by Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones
for Tribute to Venice
In what I can only describe as a stroke of marketing genius, Venezia Marketing & Eventi has actually inspired me to write something positive about the Hard Rock Cafe here in Venice. Don't get me wrong -- I've had some great times in Hard Rocks around the world, especially if I was there with a certain rocker. But the Hard Rock Cafe in Venice had landed like an alien spaceship with dangerous creatures on board. I speak from personal experience. One creature in particular, Olimpia Ubaldo from Naples -- a total stranger before her extremely unpleasant behavior made her a blip on my radar -- was particularly outrageous.

The situation appears to have changed. Not only is Olimpia Ubaldo back in Naples, but the Hard Rock Cafe has an art show inside the Goldoni Theatre! Some of the best rockers in the biz are represented in The Art of Hard Rock. Ronnie Wood made the image you see specifically to auction off to raise money to help restore Piazza San Marco. Ringo Starr, Peter Max, Roger Daltrey, Julian Lennon -- even Alice Cooper has a ceramic mask on display. (Alice Cooper was the very first rock concert I went to back in high school.)

After the presentation of the stagione di prosa, the Hard Rock Cafe provided the nibbles, which were Mexican chips and salsa!!! I am not fond of hamburgers, but I love chips and salsa. This, together with the helpful, courteous and charming staff who represented the Hard Rock Cafe really won me over. Just watching Venetians filling their mouths with Hard Rock Cafe chips and salsa... it was too funny! The Hard Rock Cafe made a genuine effort to fit better into Venice, and I always respect whenever anyone makes an effort like that.

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog


  1. Just watching Venetians filling their mouths with Hard Rock Cafe chips and salsa... it was too funny!

  2. Your blog always make me think...or smile...or sometimes, both!

  3. I know! Italians are not hip to the chips and salsa kinda eating! Watch them try to eat or make fijitas! Ha! The Hard Rock broke my heart appearing in Venice! I don't care if the staff is charming, their chips and salsa and their hamburgers and especially their GIFT store do not belong in Venice, in my humble opinion...

  4. Yes, Leslie, the Hard Rock in Venice is almost universally despised, and usually only frequented by tourists and the US military. It broke a lot of people's hearts, especially because of the insidious way in which it arrived with CORRUPTION stamped all over it. However, let's give them another chance. It is the smallest Hard Rock, and perhaps they will behave themselves. That they are at the Goldoni, a sacred Venetian stronghold, says a lot. And it's not like the theater programming has become wishy-washy. It's actually improved. If they start putting on pro-American shows at the Goldoni, that would be a problem. For example, the Anna Politkovskaja piece. I don't know if it was supposed to be anti-Soviet Union; instead it actually educated me about the term "punitive psychiatry." The USA is also guilty of using this form of torture against its own citizens, and I was pleased to learn there was actually a term for it.

  5. Thanks, Theresa. Ditto to your comments:)

  6. I should have said anti-Russian. I keep forgetting the Soviet Union no longer exists.:)