Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pulcinella Goes to Hollywood & La Biennale Dances

(Venice, Italy) Igor Stravinsky, the composer, is buried here in Venice on the Island of San Michele. Close to his tomb is the grave of Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Russian Ballet. Together they collaborated on the ballet, Pulcinella, which premiered in Paris on May 15, 1920, choreography and libretto by the dancer, Leonid Myasin; costumes and sets by the artist, Pablo Picasso. That ballet, Pulcinella, based on a stock character from the Commedia dell'arte, merged music, dance, theater, art and (in a way) architecture, in the form of set design.

Who is Pulcinella? Here is a quirky English translation from The Pulcinella Museum website:

To Pulcinella are attributed magical powers. In Naples are sold little Pulcinella-statues from painted terra cotta. They serve as bringers of good luck. In Christmas-time they are placed in the stable, between the shepherds and the Magi. At discussions about the nature of Pulcinella is often brought to the fore that he resembles Christ - because he is a scape-goat and redeemer - but that he has a diabolic side as well. Pulcinella is also compared with certain gods from the Hellenistic antiquity, especially with the Greek God Hermes, because Pulcinella is, like Hermes, a companion of souls, and because he is the union of oppositions: life and death, masculine and feminine, old and young, wisdom and foolishness, etc.. Pulcinella is even called ‘the modern prosecution of Hermes’.

Click to find out more about the Pulcinella Museum, which is located in the Baronial Castle that once belonged to the Earls of Acerra:

I thought about Pulcinella the other day when I was at the La Biennale press conference inside the beautifully restored palazzo, Ca’ Giustinian, La Biennale's historic home. For those of you who don't know, La Biennale is an internationally renowned organization here in Venice featuring contemporary Art, Cinema, Theater, Dance, Music and Architecture under one vibrant umbrella. The restoration only took about two and a half years -- proof that mutual respect and cooperation are possible here in our Byzantine village, allowing everyone to get down to the real work at hand. Walking into La Biennale is like stepping into another dimension where creativity is valued and conversation is open and dynamic.

The press conference presented the Dance portion of La Biennale, and two men I greatly admire were the speakers: Paolo Baratta, the President of La Biennale, and Ismael Ivo, the Director of the Dance. If you're a regular reader of Venetian Cat - Venice Blog, you know I've spoken about them before.

The three year project is Grado Zero, or Zero Degree, and opens a new chapter in La Biennale's aim to lead dance into the future. With performances, master classes and projects for young people, La Biennale hopes to attract dancers from all over the world. Sound ambitious? Well, with Ismael Ivo at the helm, anything is possible. He is an energetic speaker, brimming with tremendous energy -- he is a bit like Barack Obama, and not just because he's black -- Ismael was in my environment long before Barack, and his enthusiam is for dance, not politics:) I had the opportunity to speak to Ismael after the conference, and by the end of the conversation, we were hugging each other and saying, "Yes, we can!" From La Biennale website:

The 'Arsenale della Danza' pilot project
The project invites dancers to attend an intensive research workshop. A three-month program with daily sessions run by masters who will prepare attendees to implement ideas, images and visions of the performer's art. The project is aimed at candidates with a solid basic education, skills and experience, who wish to professionally improve themselves in contemporary dance.
Auditions will take place on 13th and 14th March 2009. The Arsenale Dance project will run 30th March to 30th June 2009.

To go to La Biennale's website, please click here:

Maurizio Scaparro, the Director of the Theater section of La Biennale was also in attendance, and I had the opportunity to speak with him, too. Back in November, I promised I would let you know about the Hollywood screening of his film, L'Ultimo Pulcinella. There was all sorts of uproar over here when Gomorra was not nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. Well, I saw both L'Ultimo Pulcinella and Gomorra, and I thought L'Ultimo Pulcinella was riveting. I know that Gomorra has made it on to many critics "best" lists, but I am wondering if it's not more a matter of distribution.

In any event, those of you in Los Angeles will have the opportunity to judge for yourselves during
Los Angeles, Italia, a Film, Fashion and Art Fest taking place at the Manns Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood on February 15 to 21. When I left Hollywood back in 1998, the redevelopment was just starting; the last time I was there was in 2006, and it was completely transformed, yet still retained some of its decadent charm. In fact, Hollywood sort of reminds me of Venice, and guess who is one of the sponsors? The Casinò di Venezia! And the entire stew reminds me of Pulcinella, with light and dark, life and death, the union of opposites, the resurrection...

L'Ultimo Pulcinella, a film which also combines the elements of Art, Theater, Dance, Music and Architecture into a dramatic statement, is screening on Friday, February 20th at 9:45PM. Maurizio Scaparra will not be there because he will be here with us in Venice, since he is also the Director of La Biennale Theater, which opens that same night with Le Sorelle Bronte directed by David Livermore at the Goldoni Theatre -- you can judge by Maurizio's level of activity how much talent the man is packing. However, those of you in Hollywood will be treated to the star, Massimo Ranieri, in person, as well as enjoying his powerful performance in the film. Admission is free, and there are all sorts of other great films like Il Postino and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Los Angeles, Italia. Honoring Honoring the Italian Masters of Cinematic Art Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini, Gillo Pontecorvo and legendary Producer Franco Cristaldi. Special tributes to director Pupi Avati and showmen Christian De Sica and Massimo Ranieri. Tribute to ANTHONY MINGHELLA.

Click to go to the Los Angeles, Italia website:

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. So glad L"ultomo Pulcinella is finally making it to these shores. Will it be released nationally or at least in NY?