Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Goldoni at the Malibran - Now THAT'S Carnival!

(Venice, Italy) Carlo Goldoni was one of Venice's most famous playwrights, and to see a contemporary version of his play, The Impresario from Smyrna, directed by Luca De Fusco at the Malibran Theatre, was a real delight. (The image you see is Eros Pagni and Alvia Reale.) In 1737, Goldoni himself was in charge of the Malibran Theatre (then known as the San Giovanni Grisostomo), where many of his works were performed.

From Wikipedia:

Designed by Thomas Bezzi for the Grimani family, the theatre was inaugurated during the 1678 carnival with Vespasiano by Carlo Pallavicino. It became the biggest, most luxurious and extravagant stage in Venice, known for its sumptuous productions and high quality singers such as Margherita Durastanti, prima donna between 1709 and 1712.

I attended the show with a real, live Venetian:), who was thrilled to watch the ancient words come to life in the ancient venue during Carnevale. The theater itself was packed with many locals; everyone seemed to be having a great time. It was a glorious Venetian oasis, safe from the rowdy crowds out on the streets.

There is a strange phenomenon in Venice this Carnival, and I am not the only one who has noticed it. It is as if there are many different currents flowing through the town, and if you wade into the right stream, it is possible to catch a whiff of genuine Carnevale.

You won't find it around my house, close to Rialto. Over here, there seems to be nothing but loud rock and roll, and masses of drunken youths wandering aimlessly through the calli. Not that I'm against drunken youths -- they are electric when properly confined in arenas:) -- but, to me, it's not what Carnival in Venice is about.

In any event, back to the good folks who brought us such an enjoyable evening. We do have some creative entities in town like La Biennale, The Goldoni Theater, and La Fenice. It was nearly impossible to bring these different organizations together to put on a show, but because of some inspirational leadership, it did happen. At the press conference, we were asked not to forget to mention the money folks at Fondazione Antonveneta, and I have absolutely no problem doing so. The talent was top-rate, and Maurizio Millenotti's costumes and Antonio Fiorentino's sets -- a vivid assortment of different "reds" -- were spectacular. There were even live musicians from La Fenice!

The Antonveneta Foundation is active in cultural, social welfare and scientific research and supports projects initiated by individuals who operate without a profit. http://www.antonveneta.it/media/fondazione-.aspx

I had a little difficulty with the opening because of the rapid Italian exposition and inside Venetian jokes. (My Venetian friend had no problems at all, and laughed throughout the whole show.) The story slowly started coming into focus, however, and soon I realized it included one of my favorite themes, which is: Sneaky Female Tricks and How Otherwise Intelligent Men Succumb to Them. I continue to be astounded by how many smart guys fall for Girly Machinations 101.

An impresario is someone who produces an event; Smyrna is an ancient town in Turkey, and the rivalry between the Turks and Venetians colors the play. I pondered if tourists visiting Venice at Carnival would have enjoyed the show, and have decided yes, because more than that, the show was about: who is the prima donna and are these chicks gonna rip each other's hair out -- a topic always good for a laugh.

Here is an accurate Wikipedia definition:

Originally used in opera companies, "prima donna" is Italian for "first lady". The term was used to designate the leading female singer in the opera company, the person to whom the prime roles would be given. The prima donna was normally, but not necessarily, a soprano. Legendarily, these "prima donnas" (prime donne in Italian) were often regarded as egotistical, unreasonable and irritable, with a rather high opinion of themselves not shared by others. Although whether they are truly more vain or more hot-tempered than other singers (or than any other people in the opera houses) is not substantiated, the term often describes a vain, obnoxious and temperamental person who, although irritating, cannot be done without.[2]

The brilliance of the play was that the prima donna appeared to be a sweet, innocent girl from a good family. While her competitors were more obvious about their machinations, the outstanding Gaia Aprea, who played Lucrezia, took another tact and pretended to be virginal before taking off her mask and ending up in bed with the Count, played by Max Malatesta. The other two competitors, Anita Bartolucci as Tognina and Alvia Reale as Annina, used Gossip, the All-Venetian Weapon, to destroy her. One of the best moments was when Eros Pagni, who played Alì, the Turk who was financing the whole production, said simply, "I'm confused..." It was a classic Venetian scheme, and required watching for any outsider thinking of doing business in town. Even though L'impresario delle Smirne was first produced in Venice in 1761, it still holds up today.

Ciao from Venice, Cat http://venetiancat.blogspot.com/

Teatro Malibran
Saturday February 21 at 8:30 p.m.and from February 22 to March 1
L’impresario delle Smirne [world premiere]
by Carlo Goldoni
directed by Luca De Fusco
original music Nino Rotaadapted by Luca De Fusco, Antonio Di Poficast Eros Pagni (Alì), Alberto Fasoli (Beltrame), Max Malatesta (Conte Lasca) , Paolo Serra (Carluccio), Gaia Aprea (Lucrezia), Enzo Turrin (Nibbio), Anita Bartolucci (Tognina), Piergiorgio Fasolo (Pasqualino), Giovanna Mangiù (Maccario), Alvia Reale (Annina), Matteo Mauri (a servant) clarinet Giorgio Lavorato, viola Marco Albano, piano Antonio Di Poficonductor Antonio Di Pofi
lighting design Emidio Benezzi
sets Antonio Fiorentino
costumes Maurizio Millenotti
production Teatro Stabile del Veneto, Teatro Stabile di Catania, Fondazione Antonveneta
with the support of La Biennale di Venezia
in collaboration with the Fondazione Teatro La Fenice


1 comment:

  1. This is a fantastic blog! I'm so glad I found it:)