Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stefano Nicolao & Carnival, The Show

Let's start with the Venetian costumer, Stefano Nicolao. I sat down to write about him, glanced at the clock, and, instead, ran out to the supermarket before it closed. I dashed over to the Billa, and who should be standing in the produce section, but Stefano Nicolao!

Here was our conversation:

Cat: I was just about to write about you, and here you are. I was going to write that only a man with coglioni can cry in front of an audience. And everyone clapped! When you spoke about your great appreciation for your family... it made me cry, too.

Stefano: You have to understand that I hadn't seen many of those people for 10, 20 years. And that moment... as I was speaking about my family and the culmination of 40 years of work, it just hit me...

Cat: After your speech, after the food, right before the show, I found myself sitting in the theatre next to your aunt. She told me that your mother supports you, sacrificed for you. She said that your father supports you; your daughter loves your work; she said that your wife was your assistant. She said the entire family was involved. Your aunt said that all this family energy lifts you up, up, up... and I was so moved to hear it. Because it's the opposite for me... and I imagined how different life would be to have the support of an entire family... to have all that extra energy instead of doing things on one's own. That's another reason why I was crying.

(Stefano's made costumes for the films Elizabeth, The Merchant of Venice, Casanova, etc., etc., as well as stage and television. If you click the title above, you will arrive at the Nicolao Atelier website.)

We spoke in further detail, and then agreed that we must shop before the store closed (it was just about to close, and we were both just beginning to shop), so I zipped off past the jams.


Last Thursday, May 22nd, I had an invitation to go to the Theatre of San Gallo to celebrate 25 years of the Nicolao Atelier di Stefano Nicolao (right now, the lobby is full of their costumes), and then afterwards, to see Carnival The Show. I had been curious about Carnival, The Show, because I'd seen the advertising around town. To me, it sounded very touristy; not something that locals would be interested in. So, this is something I would not ordinarily attend, except that there was the Venetian costumer, Stefano Nicolao, before the dinner and the show. I honestly did not know what to expect... and I wasn't going to stay after Stefano Nicolao's speech... except the dinner I was supposed to attend got confused, so at the last minute I decided to gulp down some of the buffet and stay for the show.

WITH THAT CAVEAT, I sampled some of the food after the stampede had already galloped through, and I found the remainders to be rather ordinary, but served in attractive plastic tumbler things... Well, the appetizers were fine. There was plenty of wine/soda/water to drink. There were so many people attacking the food at the same time that I didn't try too hard to get any, but the little I got was lacking in flavor. Now, I am not a great connoisseur; usually you can put anything in front of me, and I will eat it. I can, however, judge a good pasta e fagioli, and this pasta e fagioli was not up to par. I don't know if they have adjusted the food to suit the tastes of the tourists... maybe that's what it is. In any event, if we judge the food on were there any leftovers...? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Maybe one kernel of rice. So, the majority of people did enjoy the food! To be fair, I would guess that this was a special evening, and that ordinarily the audience does not descend en masse to graze. Perhaps it was because we were all gathered together prior to the buffet to hear the speech, and then poured out into the dining area at the same time. It would be interesting to see the theatre on a "normal" night. I would imagine that it is better organized, since people would trickle in as they arrived.

THE SHOW, on the other hand, I really enjoyed. It was unexpectedly good -- the actors were good; it was professional and enjoyable. It made me miss Venice and the way life used to be before the soulless Corporate Invasion. It reminded me of a theatrical production I did long, long ago in Southern California. It was an outdoor dinner theatre, and I was playing the part of Karen Andre in Ayn Rand's play, The Night of January 16th. The food was equally strange... I can't remember, like a box lunch dinner. Carnival, The Show, has absolutely nothing in common with the Ayn Rand play except in my own mind -- it conjures up a dinner-theatre memory... old-fashioned in a sweet way. Professional, but not slick. So, if you have ever been to a dinner theatre production in America, it is sort of like that.

There is a very thin plot, which is that the Atelier, or studio, of this costumer, is creating the costumes for Marchesa Luisa Casati, who lived in Palazzo dei Leoni, which is now the Guggenheim. She was having a grand ball, and running around declaring: "I want to be a living work of art!" On stage, the actors are creating costumes and reminiscing. The narrator states at the beginning that it is not in chronological order. It's a hodge-podge of Venetian history, touching upon major events and interesting personalities in an entertaining and amusing way. THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND! When Venice had a sense of humor... In fact, the next night, Friday, I ran into my Dear-Old-Friend, Ludovico de Luigi, To Whom-I-Had-Stopped-Speaking For-A-Very-Long-While But-Still-Love-Despite-His-Evil-Ways, at the opening of Joe Tilson at the Bugno Art Gallery, and we both agreed that there seems to be a general LACK OF HUMOR on the planet these days.

Anyway, back to Carnival, The Show. I just LOVED it. Really. It was strangely moving. I sat next to another journalist, and we both were laughing and crying at the same times. Due to the presence of Stefano Nicolao, there were lots of Venetians who would not normally be there that night, so, it was a special night. So, I would say: go there for the show, but don't expect great food. At least Carnival, The Show has a sense of humor! It's an entertaining Venetian history lesson, mingling facts, legends, gossip, scandals -- just like real-life Venice:). They use the space well, mixing live action with digital projections -- something I always love. I am a firm believer in mixing film with live action, opening up all sorts of possibilities for expanding the entertainment.

I predict the next step in live theatre will be more audience participation. Well, everyone has been trying to break the Fourth Wall since before time began, but because of reality TV (which I have seen once in my life at my sister's house in California -- it was quite enough), people are now used to it -- in the Ayn Rand play mentioned above, there were 12 jurors picked from the audience every night. They sat on stage and decided whether I was guilty or innocent. That was cool:) In fact, maybe over there in the States you have already annihilated the Fourth Wall and I just don't know it because I don't read/watch the news and I haven't been over there for some time.

ALL VISITORS TO VENICE should be required to watch Carnival, The Show within 24 hours upon arrival, and then take a short quiz:)

To sum it up, it was as if I attended three separate events on the same night, at the same place.

1. Nicola Atelier di Stefano Nicolao - celebrating 25 years - with the costumes on display at the Theatre of San Gallo.
2. A mad, crazy buffet.
3. A wonderful theatrical production set in an Atelier much like the real-life Nicola Atelier; thus the tie-in.

Ciao from Venice,

P.S. I did immediately spot an error -- they have a printed Timeline in the program, and they say that "Venice was founded in 421 (conveniently on St.. Mark's Day, April 25)." Well, Venice (as we all know:) was founded on Friday, MARCH 25, 421 at the stroke of noon right downstairs at Rialto at San Giacometto. And another marvelous coincidence is that Stefano Nicolao, too, was born on March 25th!

Carnival, The Show
For booking and more info:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Michela Rizzo Gallery

Yesterday, I was zipping through a bunch of invitations and the Cecilia Paredes exhibit, The final Garden, at Galleria Michela Rizzo in Palazzo Palumbo Fossati caught my eye. The last time I had seen Michela was at her gallery down in Castello a couple of years ago. So, I decided to head over to Palazzo Palumbo Fossati in San Marco and check out her new space.

It is a GREAT space, located on Fondamenta della Malvasia Vecchia, which you can find between Campo Sant' Angelo and Campo San Maurizio if you take the calle by the area that runs past the back of La Fenice.

I wandered around and ran into some old friends and caught up on the news through the ol' Venetian pipeline. After looking at the main Cecilia Paredes show, I ended up in a back room and stopped short. I said out loud, to no one in particular, "Is that Lawrence Carroll's work?" A man said, "Yes, it is." I said, "Well, I know him!"

I found Michela and said, "You've got Lawrence Carroll here?" She said, "Yes. I love his work. I collaborated on the show at the Correr Museum." I said, "You did that? I was there! I wrote an entire blog about it." Michela looked fantastic; we've actually got a couple mutual friends, so we caught up, too. I really loved the space; it's bright and open. Michela did a lot of work, and it shows. The outdoor space downstairs is where drinks were served.

Going and coming from the gallery I ran into a bunch of people I hadn't seen in a long time. Venice is like that. You can go for months without seeing a particular group, then all of a sudden everyone is popping out from one dimension into another. Couples that were separated are now back together. Couples that were together forever have called it quits. Enemies are now friends, and friends have become enemies. And babies, babies, babies arriving on the scene!

The Venetian energy attracts and repels, creates and destroys.

A butcher transforms into yet another ice cream shop. The perfume and make-up section of Coin has moved from San Luca and been absorbed into the main store by Rialto, leaving a Puma store in its place. The florist at the foot of the Rialto Bridge has vanished poof! after nearly 100 years...

Next comes the thunderstorm, which actually is happening as I write this, a roaring thunderstorm with lightening bolts thrown by Zeus himself. The air is recharged, a new scene is set. Everyone looks around to see who is still standing. Then the curtain rises on the next act in the ongoing theatrical production called Venice. The show must go on...

Ciao from Venice,

Galleria Michela Rizzo
Calle degli Albanesi 4254 - San Marco
30170 Venezia
Phone: +39-41 . 5223186
Fax: +39-41 . 5223186

opening hours:
Tue-Fri 16-19:30

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Venice Film Festival

(Click here for the CURRENT Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog -- especially if you use Bing!!!!)

La Biennale sent over a press release. Burn After Reading sounds so cool that I just might get my press pass this year and go to the film festival. Even though the film festival sounds glamorous, it is actually a huge amount of work, and I haven't gone for the last few years. But I LOVE the Cohen brothers, and it stars lots of the Hollywood Good Guys: George Clooney (god:), Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Richard Jenkins. (I also love that the Cohen brothers are not frightened of making women over 40 look sexy:). They've got something like a zillion Academy Awards wins and/or nominations between them.

Here's basically what the press release says for those of you who don't read Italian, combined with info I swiped off Wikipedia:

In this black comedy, Malkovich plays Ozzie Cox, a former CIA agent in Washington who is fired because he is an alcoholic. He gets revenge by writing inflammatory memoirs. Cox's soon-to-be ex-wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) steals the disc containing his memoirs and accidentally leaves it at the gym where it is found by a trainer Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) and the gym's owner Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), who believe they can use the info to blackmail Cox.
Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney) is a fellow CIA spy investigating the matter who meets Linda via computer dating. Harry starts an affair with Katie, and later with Linda, becoming entangled with the blackmailers and the CIA.
From Working Title site:


Burn After Reading
, written and directed by Academy Award winners Joel and Ethan Coen, will open the 65th Venice Film Festival at Lido di Venezia, held from 27th August to 6th September 2008.

The film, starring George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, and Brad Pitt, will be given its world premiere on the evening of 27th August in the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema, following the opening ceremony of the 65th Festival.

In the dark spy-comedy, John Malkovich plays an ousted CIA official whose memoir accidentally falls into the hands of two unwise Washington, D.C. gym employees intent on exploiting their find.

Burn After Reading is a Working Title Films production, produced by Joel and Ethan Coen and executive-produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Robert Graf. It will be released in the UK on 5th September, distributed by Universal Pictures and in the United States

Press release from La Biennale:

Dear Cat BAUER,
La Biennale di Venezia
65. Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica

Burn After Reading di Joel ed Ethan Coen
con George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, e Brad Pitt è il film di apertura della 65. Mostra

Burn After Reading, scritto e diretto dai premi Oscar Joel ed Ethan Coen, aprirà la 65. Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica, in programma al Lido di Venezia dal 27 agosto al 6 settembre 2008, diretta da Marco Müller e organizzata da La Biennale di Venezia, presieduta da Paolo Baratta. Il film, che può contare su un cast composto da George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins e Brad Pitt, verrà presentato in anteprima mondiale la sera del 27 agosto nella Sala Grande del Palazzo del Cinema, a seguire la cerimonia di apertura della 65. Mostra.

Burn After Reading è una produzione Working Title, ed è prodotto da Joel ed Ethan Coen e dai produttori esecutivi Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner e Robert Graf. Burn After Reading uscirà in Gran Bretagna il 5 settembre, distribuito da Universal Pictures, e negli Stati Uniti il 12 settembre, distribuito da Focus Features. In Italia, Burn After Reading sarà distribuito da Medusa Film.

In questa dark comedy dai risvolti spionistici, John Malkovich interpreta il ruolo di ex agente della CIA le cui memorie finiscono accidentalmente nelle mani di due istruttori di una palestra di Washington che intendono trarre profitto dal ritrovamento. Il direttore della fotografia di Burn After Reading è Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men). Mary Zophres è la costumista alla sua ottava collaborazione consecutiva con i fratelli Coen. Jess Gonchor, già scenografo di Non è un paese per vecchi (No Country for Old Men), ripete l'esperienza con Burn After Reading.

(Click here to read the Burn After Reading live report from the 2008 Venice Film Festival)

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Venice's Ark, Peggy Guggenheim, Barca xe Casa

So much is happening in Venice! I have been running like a maniac since I've been back from the mountains. Yesterday, I was at a press conference with the mayor, Massimo Cacciari, who announced an exciting new Jewish festival, Festival dell'Arca, in The Ghetto which will start on Sunday, May 25th and run through June 1st. There will even be an actual ark! It is to promote a deeper understanding of the Jewish culture, and I have to say that it sounds fantastic, with theatrical performances, music, lectures and conversations., etc. They hope to make it an annual event.

For example, on May 29th at 9:00 straight from Broadway will be a presentation of Iris Bahr in her one-woman show called Dai (Enough). From Amanda Cooper's CurtainUp review: "...A BBC reporter who has been covering the Israel-Palestine conflict for months decides to head into a local Tel Aviv spot (the coffee shop) in order to get an Israeli civilian perspective on the conflict. After a number of revealing interviews with a surprisingly international group (no more than a couple Israelis in the bunch), a suicide bomber enters the shop, killing all (or at least most) of the people we have just heard from. I'm not being a spoiler here. Bahr's play structure has us viewing each individual's moment of bomb impact throughout the evening. Each person's life story/interview is interrupted by the explosion. If this sounds like overkill for the viewer, it isn't...."

Another highlight will be the renowned performer Moni Ovadia in Kavanah, Stories and Songs of Jewish Spirituality, together with Arke String Quartet, on June 1st at 9:00pm.

Here's the link to the entire program: http://www.atduende.it/index.php?page=programma

Tickets are 15 euro, 10 euro for students and seniors.

Next, I dashed over to the L'Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti in Campo Santa Stefano for the conference in preparation for Coming of Age - American Art from 1850 to 1950. From the Guggenheim's site:


To celebrate 60 years of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, the museum offers a calendar of activities to supplement the temporary exhibitions. There will be lectures, free guided visits to exhibitions, a movie program during the summer, educational workshops."

Here is the link to that: http://www.guggenheim-venice.it/inglese/news.php

The evening before was the opening of the exhibition Barca xe Casa, wonderful photographs from one of my favorite organizations, il Circolo la Gondola (as you know if you read this blog) over at the lobby of the bank, Cassa di Risparmio Venezia in Campo San Luca. You can wander into the lobby through May 30th and have a look at some beautiful, haunting photos of Venice from the 1940s. through 1960s. The hours are bank hours, 8:30am to 1:30pm, and then 2:25pm to 3:35pm. And here is the link to that:


Ciao from Venice,