Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Carabinieri at La Fenice!

If you ask my friends, you will find out I have a strange quirk: people tell me to go places, and I just go, without really knowing where I am going. They say, Cat, take the train/plane, etc. and get off here. I've ended up in the most wonderful places (because I have wonderful friends:), like Sardinia, Panarea, Merano, etc.

So, when one of my friends, Savina Confaloni, who is a telejournalist on SKY, told me to go to La Fenice, the opera house here in Venice, on Sunday, I went. (I actually know exactly how to get to La Fenice, I just didn't know why I was going:)

And I invited another friend who happened to be in town, Patricia Fortini Brown, to join me. Pat is the Chair of Art and Archeology at Princeton University, and she's also been known to write a book or two. Pat has the amazing ability to make scholarly subjects accessible to the average person, so I strongly suggest you buy her books if you want to know about Venice, and I'm not just saying that because she's my friend.

In fact, I read one of Pat's books before I knew her. A few years ago, we were over in the Church of Santa Maria Assunta on Torcello, and she was describing a marble relief to me. I said, "Wait a second. You are one of the reasons I moved here! I read your book!" In fact, I had photocopied a page about that very relief out of Pat's Venice and Antiquity and had brought it with me to Venice when I moved here back in 1998.

So, Pat and I arrived at La Fenice, and there were some splendidly dressed military men outside the theater. I wondered what was going on. It turned out that we were at the concert of Banda Musicale dell'Arma dei Carabinieri, and it was fantastic!

In case you don't know, the Carabinieri are one of Italy's police forces. I don't have the photos yet, so we will make do with what I can find on the Internet until they arrive.

View from the stage of the interior of La Fenice, Venice's opera house
Savi was the presenter that evening, and she looked gorgeous in a floor-length gown. I really wish I had the photos, because if you could see the uniforms the Carabinieri were wearing, with Savi in her gown, and La Fenice as the setting -- well, it doesn't get more visually beautiful than that.

Cat Bauer and Savina Confaloni
Cat Bauer & Savina Confaloni at my book launch last spring
And the music! The music was spectacular. I was surprised that a military band could be so good. It was conducted by Maestro Ten. Col. Massimo Martinelli, and here is the program:

Rossini - William Tell
Puccini - "Romanze d'amore - which were excerpts from La Bohème, Madam Butterfly, Tournadot and Tosca
Tchaikovsky - Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker
Verdi - Aida - the finale, part I
Bernstein - Candide - Overture
Morricone - Moment for Morricone - which were some tunes that Ennio Morricone composed
Elgar - Nimrod - Enigma Variations
Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries
Novaro - The Song of the Italians, which, of course, is the Italian National Anthem

There are many different kinds of police in Italy, and it takes some time to sort them all out. The Ancient Corps of the Royal Carabinieri was created by King Victor Emmanuel I of Savoy on July 13, 1814, and there is something still royal about them. They are both military and regular police -- sort of like the American National Guard except that the Carabinieri are always out there on the streets of Italy, in addition to performing military duties. Their motto is "Faithful Throughout the Centuries." 

You might remember back in 2003 when twelve Carabinieri on a peacekeeping mission were killed in a suicide bomb attack on their base in southern Iraq in the largest Italian military loss of life in a single action since WWII. It was a very, very sad day here in Italy when that happened, so please remember that Americans are not the only ones involved in the war.

In fact, the Carabinieri got a lot of bad press during the G8 conference in Genoa in 2001, and that's all many people remember about them. But like all police, they are also heroic. (We won't get into the behavior of the Los Angeles Police Department during the riots in LA of 1992 -- I was right in the thick of it back then; I was literally blocks away from the famous intersection when Reginald Denny was pulled out of his truck; and then I watched from my terrace as Los Angeles burned below.)

Anyway, back to the music: all the people who are in the band are, of course, also trained police. If you click the title of this article, you will arrive at the website of the Carabinieri, which is even in English! So you can read more about them, if you like. The band itself started with buglers back in 1820, which turned into a fanfare, which transformed into a proper band 100 years later. For more information, go to the Carabinieri.

Ciao from Venice,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat -The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. That is one seriously heavy-hitter lineup of music. It seems like the perfect evening!