Thursday, November 20, 2008

BBCC Expo, Middle East Peace Orchestra, L'ultimo Pulcinella

(Venice, Italy) I was over at the press conference for the BBCC Expo the other day, which will be held next week at the Verona Fairgrounds on November 27th through 29. The BBCC Expo develops tourism based on cultural heritage, and is supported by governments, foundations and institutions from a variety of nations: Germany, Czech Republic, Holland, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, Poland, Hungary, France, Denmark, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Russia. (The countries are in that order on the press release -- I hope I didn't forget anyone:) There will be three days of conferences and information exchange, a prestigious showcase of international products. If the BBCC Expo has any impact on elevating the level of tourism here in Venice, well, I am all for that.

The press conference was in Ca' Corner, which is the headquarters of the Province -- in fact, Davide Zoggia, the President of the Province was one of the speakers. The BBCC Expo is a joint venture between Venice and Verona. The main sponsor is the Casinò di Venezia. The entrance is free, so if you are in the area and interested in international tourism, that is the place to be. For more information (it's in Italian, so use your Google Translator), go here:

Next, Jack Kessler, who discovered Venetian Cat - Venice Blog after someone forwarded him my blog on Jewish Spiritual Music (SEE: sent over a press release. I know there are some of you who read Venetian Cat up there in Austria and Germany. It's too late for the Austrian concert, but you can still catch the show in Munich on Saturday at:

Samstag, 22.11, 20 Uhr, Carl-Orff-Saal, Gasteig
Middle East Peace Orchestra, USA
A Concert for Peace
The power of art to change the world:

The MIDDLE EAST PEACE ORCHESTRA features Arab and Jewish musicians in concert together to make a powerful statement for peace thru shared music. No speeches--the music is the message! This project exemplifies the potential for creativity between two groups both musically and beyond, and is an important statement in multi-cultural tolerance. This is the only performance group that, in addition to virtuoso instrumentalists capable of playing the music of both traditions, has both Hebrew and Arabic vocal specialists: Hazzan Jack Kessler, one of the premier masters of Jewish spiritual song, and the great Lebanese singer, composer and 'oud master Maurice Chedid.

Also known in North America as ATZILUT:CONCERTS FOR PEACE. the group has an extensive performance history, including the United Nations, the Algarve International Festival, Munich Gasteig, the Royal Opera Theatre of Copenhagen, and a recent tour of France in summer 08.
For more info (and that site is in German, so use your Google Translator:), click:

Finally, a couple of nights ago I saw a great film called L'ultimo Pulcinella as part of La Biennale Laboratorio Internazionale del Teatro, or the Theatre segment of La Biennale. The theme this year is Mediterraneo, and there are offerings from all sorts of Mediterranean countries. This film was directed by Maurizio Scaparro, who also happens to be the director of the Theatre Section itself (that is Maurizio Scaparro there on the right at the Rome Film Festival, where L'ultimo Pulcinella premiered). The movie was brilliant. Both Maurizio Scaparro, and the star, Massimo Ranieri (over there on the left), who delivered a perfect performance, spoke before the film, which was originally set to screen at the Malibran Theatre, but in typical Venetian fashion, ended up being shown at the Giorgione Theatre.

I spoke, briefly, with Maurizio Scaparro today at yet another press conference; hopefully I will have some details to share with you about the United States screenings in the near future. It really deserves its own blog, it was that good -- especially since I watched it in Italian and French with Italian subtitles!

The Pulcinella character shows up in many cultures. In America and the UK, we know Pulcinella as "Punch" of Punch & Judy, so the title of the film would translate as "The Last Punch," or "The Final Punch," which is sort of interesting if you think about it.

This is from the program:

"Pulcinella in the banlieue. What do the suburbs of Paris, theatres of social marginalization and violence, have in common with this character from the Neapolitan commedia della'arte? The suburbs of the world talk to one another. They share problems of integration, employment, youth. The theatre can become a metaphor for social redemption."

I can tell you from personal experience that is true. I used to be a Brownie leader for a group of troubled little girls, aged six and seven-years-old. I wrote a play for them, and it was something magical to see. One shy, beautiful little Hispanic girl, whose home was gangland Los Angeles, asked me if she could play the lead -- it really transformed her. It's strange to think that the girls would be in their 20s by now... The Arts -- music, theatre, art, dance, architecture, film -- are a great way to channel energy that can become destructive into something constructive. I have seen many a troubled youth turned around by Art.

Ciao from Venice,

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