Wednesday, August 31, 2011

LIVE! From the 68th Venice Film Festival! George Clooney & The Ides of March

George Clooney arrives at press conference - (AP photo-Joel Ryan)
(Venice, Italy) George Clooney said the title of his latest film, "Ides of March," a political thriller, was inspired by the conspiracy surrounding Julius Caesar. Although set during the Ohio Democratic primary in the not too distant future, it seems not much has changed since the time of Romans -- we continue to repeat the same mistakes, century after century after century.

Clooney not only directs "The Ides of March" -- the opening film of the festival -- he stars and co-wrote the screenplay with his long-time business partner, Grant Heslov, based on Beau Willimon's stage play, "Farragut North." Here are some early reviews:

Evan Rachel Wood & Marisa Tomei
David Gritten for The Telegraph: "A smart, confident kick start to what looks like being a notably strong Venice film festival, The Ides of March showcases George Clooney, its director, co/writer and joint lead actor, back in the politically committed mood that spawned Syriana and Good Night, and Good Luck. 

A political thriller exploring themes of loyalty, ambition and the gap between public ideals and private fallibility, it engages the brain within the context of a solid entertainment." 

Xan Brooks for The Guardian: "This handsome, solid campaign thriller paints its primary colours in darkening shades of grey. ...The Ides of March is tense and involving, a decent choice for the festival's opening-night film. 

The entire cast was brilliant, and most of them are here in Venice: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paulo Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. The only one missing was Ryan Gosling, who plays a idealistic, loyal press secretary with a deep belief in Governor Mike Morris (played by Clooney). When his rose colored glasses are shattered, he, too, reveals a very dark side of himself. There was talk of Ryan Gosling becoming a major star, and after seeing his performance, I agree.

At the press conference, Clooney said that it is a very difficult time to govern these days. When asked if he would ever run for president, Clooney said he liked his current job. He said that Hollywood was Candy Land compared to Washington, D.C. and that difference between them was getting too blurry. He said there was a huge difference with respect to what each town was responsible for. People in Washington have serious jobs that affect the fate of the planet. Decisions are made that are life-changing for many people in the world. Compared to that, Hollywood is like a playground where they tell stories and the worst that can happen is they get badly reviewed.

The question that the Ides of March asks is: "Would you trade your soul for an outcome?" After having personally encountered far too many people who have done exactly that, I found the movie fascinating.Watching all the lies, manipulations, seductions, blackmails and cover-ups that go on... I am finally starting to understand how they can sleep. They have no souls! For example, Philip Seymour Hoffman's character gets royally screwed in the film. At the press conference he was asked how it felt to play a good guy who lost in the end. Hoffman said that his character was not a total good guy, but that "he abided by the rules of the game he was playing." He also said that his character did not lose in the end. He actually won because he got out -- it was a release and a relief. 

This year at the 68th Venice International Film Festival we have world premieres of every single film in the three official categories. Which means that here in Venice we get to see 65 films first, before the rest of the world does.Which also must mean that filmmakers trust Venice to present their work to the world in an enlightened, glittering way. After all, Venice was the very first film festival in the world!

In addition to the folks from Ides of March, here are a few people who arrived in Venice yesterday, August 30, 2011:

Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky, who is the President of the jury.
David Byrne
Todd Haynes
John Woo
Victor Kossakovsky

Here are some people who arrived today, August 31, 2011:

Harvey Weinstein
John C. Reilly
Kate Winslet
Monica Bellucci
Jonathan Demme

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We Are the World - Musical Interlude - USA for AFRICA 1985

(Venice, Italy) A dash of positive energy to keep things on track...

(NOTE: As of May 31, 2012, this video has been blocked. Here it is again:)

Happy Birthday, Chris

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Assumption of Mary - The Divine Female

Assumption of the Virgin by Titian
High Altar - Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
(Venice, Italy) The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, is one of my favorite holidays here in Italy. It is when Mary ascended into Heaven, body and soul. I went to Mass at the Basilica this morning in the company of a German woman whose father is Catholic and mother is Lutheran. She remarked that the Catholic religion is one of the few where female divinity is worshipped along with the male image of God.

I've written about this feast day before, three years ago, back in 2008 in this post:

Mary Ascends to Heaven and Pala D'Oro, The Golden Cloth - Venice

Yesterday, I found myself in a miraculous position -- alone, on my knees, on the high altar of the Basilica in front of the tomb of Saint Mark, the brilliant gold of the Pala D'Oro shimmering in the background.

August 15th is Ferragosto here in Italy, and also Assumption Day, the day that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was assumed into Heaven. It is an ancient pagan festival combined with a Catholic holiday.

 Click HERE to read the entire post. 

Looking back on what I was actually living at that point in time, it is a miracle that I had the presence of mind to write that post. The week before, I had been subjected to one of the most terrifying episodes of my life. In fact, at the time of the writing, unbeknownst to me, two of my ribs were broken -- something I would discover the day after I wrote the post. I was in a lot of physical, emotional and mental pain. That the post is so optimistic proves what power faith can have. Knowing what I do now, I am more grateful than ever for the privilege of praying in front of the Wall of Gold. 

This year, again I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to kneel in front of the Pala D'Oro, the Golden Altarpiece. It's like having a direct line to Heaven; you can feel the energy beaming in and out of your palms. I had a special request to make at the Pala D'Oro yet again: my Uncle Bob recently told me that my cousin, Stanley, had died suddenly at age fifty, which was a shock. I am the oldest cousin out of fourteen, so to have one die before me felt unnatural. Cousin Stanley had the same name as our grandfather, who was a great fan of St. Francis of Assisi, since that was his middle name.

Photo credit: Brando
One of the wonderful things about the Catholic religion is it contains lots of "white magic" -- incense, holy water, candles, sacred oil, miracles, saints, visions, icons, rites and rituals, etc. You can summon up particular saints for help with particular challenges; the one you are named after is especially powerful; I was baptized with the name of Catherine. In fact, some Italians celebrate their saint's day as well as their own birthday, even if they are not particularly religious. Italy is a predominately Catholic country, and reminders of that are everywhere, in the art, in the church bells, in the symbol of the cross. Here in Venice, we have Mark, one of the evangelists himself as our patron, and the winged lion of San Marco is part of the scenery. And it just so happens that St. Catherine of Sienna is the patron saint of Italy, along with St. Francis of Assisi! 

Also inside the Basilica is the Byzantine icon, Madonna Nicopeia, who marched at the head of the Roman Imperial Army. She performs miracles, and I lit a candle for Cousin Stanley before the church service began. So, I had lots of spiritual help around me when I said some words in front of the Pala D'Oro for Stanley, who still lives on earth, my uncle tells me, in the form of a tangerine tree that was planted in his name. 

The influence of the divine female energy upon Italy -- Venice in particular -- cannot be underestimated. Before Venice came into power, another island in the lagoon, the island of Torcello, was settled first. 

Interior Santa Maria Assunta,
After the fall of the western Roman Empire, a wondrous city grew up on Torcello, which was a distant outpost of the Byzantine Empire, trading with Constantinople. One of the most important things to know about Venice is that it did not exist when the empire was based in Rome. It came into existence when the Roman empire was based in Constantinople and called the Byzantium Empire. We can imagine that some clever, enlightened people, free from the direct rule of an empire, built up Torcello before the emperor in Constantinople figured out what was going on. About the same time, the story goes, authorities from Padua founded Venice proper at Rialto on Friday, March 25, 421 at twelve-o'clock noon. Eventually these islands in the Venetian lagoon would become what we now know as Venice. 

Torcello - Santa Maria Assunta
There are all sorts of stories and myths about how Venice was created. I like to believe that she -- because everyone agrees that Venice is female -- was born from divine female energy, just as a divine Mary gave birth to the Son of God. To this day on the island of Torcello, there is a church called the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, or the Cathedral of the Assumption of St. Mary that was first founded in 639. Instead of Christ over the altar, we have Mary. The late Pope John Paul came from Venice and startled the world when he proclaimed that "He (God) is our father; even more, he is our mother." This celebration of divine female energy is something else that sets the European culture apart.  

Here is what we heard yesterday in Venice inside the Basilica, which, by the way, was surprisingly full with worshippers:

First Reading

Apocalypse 11:19,12:1-6,10

The sanctuary of God in heaven opened, and the ark of the covenant could be seen inside it. Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown. She was pregnant, and in labour, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth.

Then a second sign appeared in the sky, a huge red dragon which had seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet. Its tail dragged a third of the stars from the sky and dropped them to the earth, and the dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was having the child, so that he could eat it as soon as it was born from its mother.

The woman brought a male child into the world, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron sceptre, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne, while the woman escaped into the desert, where God had made a place of safety ready. Then I heard a voice shout from heaven. "Victory and power and empire forever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ."

RESPONSORIAL PSALM                         Psalm 44
On your right stands the queen, 
in garments of gold.

The daughters of kings are among your loved ones.
On your right stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
Listen, O daughter, give ear to my words:
forget your own people and your father’s house. +

So will the king desire your beauty:
He is your Lord, pay homage to him.
They are escorted amid gladness and joy:
they pass within the palace of the king.  

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 15:20-26

Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order:

Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. 

After that will come the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, having done away with every sovereignty, authority and power. 

For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death, for everything is to be put under his feet. 

I was curious to see if the Church of England was following the same text for Assumption Day, which they celebrated as part of a regular Sunday service on August 14, not a special holiday that fell this year on a Monday. The first reading from the Apocalypse was the same. But the second reading was different. Here is what the Anglican Church presented on Sunday for the second reading:

Galatians 4:4-7

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba, Father."
Therefore thou art no more a servant but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

That's a very different message. In some versions, I found the word "servant" translated as "slave" and also "bond-servant," which, I suppose is a polite way of saying "slave." 

The Orthodox and Eastern Catholics celebrate the feast, but they call it the Dormition of the Theotokos. From Wikipedia:
Dormition of the Theotokos is celebrated on August 15 the same calendar day as the Roman Catholic Feast of the Assumption of Mary. The Dormition and the Assumption are different names for the same event, Mary's departure from the earth, although the beliefs are not entirely the same.
The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary died a natural death, like any human being; that her soul was received by Christ upon death; and that her body was resurrected on the third day after her repose, at which time she was taken up, bodily only, into heaven. Her tomb was found empty on the third day.
Roman Catholic teaching holds that Mary was "assumed" into heaven in bodily form. Some Catholics agree with the Orthodox that this happened after Mary's death, while some hold that she did not experience death.
So, whether you believe that Mary first died a normal death, resurrected after three days, then went straight up to Heaven, or whether you think she just went straight up off the Earth, or whether you think Mary never existed, we can agree that this is a very particular holy day that gets an enormous amount of attention in certain parts of the planet, while many other cultures -- including Christian cultures -- don't think about it at all. Here in Italy it is a national holiday, as in many other countries in Europe.  

Meanwhile, back at the Basilica, the Gospel:

Visitation by Jacques Daret
Luke 1:39-56

Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 

Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, "Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled."

And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my saviour; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.

Holy is his name, and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
Russian icon
Nativity of St. John the Baptist
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy – according to the promise he made to our ancestors – of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.
The Gospel at the Anglican Church was the same except they left out the beginning when Elizabeth asked why she should be honored with a visit from the mother of the Lord. Instead it starts with "Mary said:" and leaves out the last sentence, because, in the Anglican version we don't know that Mary is having a conversation with Elizabeth. Elizabeth, of course, was the wife of St. Zacharias, and the child inside her womb was none other than John the Baptist. (The body of John the Baptist's father, Zacharias, is said to be here in Venice inside the Church of San Zaccaria.) Both Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, are also revered by Muslims. 

The Gospel that was read on Assumption Day takes on special significance if we think that these two women were both aware that they were pregnant with two very important male babies at the time they were having that conversation. When Elizabeth tells Mary that she felt her baby jump for joy, well, that is John the Baptist meeting Jesus Christ for the first time, womb to womb.

Later that evening there was a special service at the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta on Torcello.

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Saturday, August 13, 2011

China & Venice - An Ancient Story - Kunqu Opera at the Goldoni Theater

Luo Chenxue
Image by Marco Secchi
(Venice, Italy) Kunqu opera originated in the Jiangsu Province of China, and dates back to the late Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) and the early Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan, the first non-Chinese emperor of China, founded the Yuan Dynasty in 1271 or 1279 -- the year differs depending upon the source; let's say it was 1271 to keep things tidy:).

That same year, Niccolò Polo and his brother, Maffeo, set off from Venice on their second voyage to meet the Great Khan, this time accompanied by Niccolò's son, Marco Polo.

Niccolò & Maffeo Polo with
Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan
About four years later, the now 21-year-old Venetian explorer Marco Polo met Kublai Khan for the first time, and charmed the great ruler. Per Emperor Khan's request, the Polo family had returned to the Great Khan's court with sacred oil from the Lamp of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, as well as letters from the new pope, Theobald Visconti aka Gregory X.

The Polo family had stopped off in Acre, which was then the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and where Theobaldo Visconti was conveniently located, drumming up support for the Ninth Crusade, when the news came that he was now the Pope. So, the Pope himself, Gregory X, was actually in Jerusalem at the time the Polos came for the holy oil.

From Wikipedia:

Photo at Amazing Tourism
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. The site is venerated as Golgotha[1] (the Hill of Calvary), where Jesus was crucified,[2] and is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). The church has been an important Christian pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century as the purported site of the resurrection of Jesus. Today it also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, while control of the building is shared between several Christian churches and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for centuries. Today, the church is home to Eastern OrthodoxyOriental Orthodoxy and Roman CatholicismAnglican and Protestant Christians have no permanent presence in the church.

On their first visit to Kublai Khan's court back in 1266, Niccolò and Maffeo had been asked by the Emperor to be his Papal ambassadors. Kublai Khan -- who had converted to Tibetan Buddhism -- had requested that the pope, who was then the Frenchman Pope Clement IV, send him 100 Christians acquainted with the Seven Arts -- grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music and astronomy -- and the holy oil.

Pope Clement IV died in 1268; it took almost three years of squabbling before the next pope, the Italian Gregory X was appointed.

(We can only imagine the scene: Wait a minute. Isn't Theobaldo Visconti already in Jerusalem? Let's make him the Pope! Then we've got our guy there, right on the scene. Then we send the Polo boys in Venice on a trip over the Silk Road; they stop off in Jerusalem; Visconti gives them some sacred oil from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Kublai Khan; they zip over to China, and give it to the Emperor. Yeah! That works.)

While they were waiting for a new pope to pop up, the Polo brothers had returned to Venice where Niccolò met his teenage son, Marco, for the very first time.

On their return visit to Kubali Khan in 1271, the Polo brothers decided to bring the kid, Marco, with them. They stopped off in Acre in Palestine where the freshly-elected Pope Gregory X was attending to the Ninth Crusade. Pope Gregory did not provide the 100 Christians, but he did give the Polos the sacred lamp oil to present to Kublai Khan, and back to China they went. The Polos were not the first Europeans to visit the Far East, but because of Marco's book, II Millione, or The Travels of Marco Polo, they are the ones we remember best.

You can click HERE to watch a National Geographic video about Marco Polo's journey. If you do, you will see the handwriting of Christopher Columbus in the margins of his own copy of Marco Polo's book, which is said to have inspired Columbus on his own fateful journey.

That is a very simplified back story as to what was going on historically in the Western World, long before the United States came into existence, just before Kunqu Opera came on the scene in China in the latter part of the Yuan Dynasty.

Santa Sofia, Istanbul

During the Middle Ages, Constantinople, not Rome, was the capital of the Roman empire. Constantinople was the empirical capital of the Roman Empire (330-395), the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire (395-1204 and 1261-1453), the Latin Empire (1204-1261) and the Ottoman Empire (1453-1922). In other words, different empires conquered the same city and declared it the capital. At the time of the Polo family adventures, Constantinople had been embroiled in battles between different factions of the Eastern Roman Empire and the Latin Empire.

St. Mark's, Venice
The empires changed, but the geographical location of the city of Byzantium, next called Constantinople, now called Istanbul -- the largest city in Turkey -- remained the same. Venice herself has always felt the very strong influence of the Byzantine Empire, which is why the ancient buildings here, with an Eastern flavor, look different than the buildings you will find in the rest of Italy. Venice always preferred doing business with the East rather than crusading against it, and Marco Polo traveling the Silk Road from China to Venice conjures up exotic images -- an exchange of  knowledge, goods and culture between the East and the West. From Pankaj Mishra's 2004 article for Travel & Leisure, "West Meets East in Venice:"

...the city is where East and West met, mostly amicably, in both commerce and art, and where multiculturalism was an unselfconscious, everyday reality, embraced by almost all its inhabitants, rather than a political slogan of ethnic minorities. For the city's most resonant message today is surely this: that a civilization flourishes most when it is open to external influences, when it ceases to be a fortress and lets itself become a crossroads, a place of chance encounters and unexpected minglings.

Luo Chenxue & makeup artist
Image by Marco Secchi
Centuries later, Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793) was one of Venice's most famous playwrights. I thought it was fitting that the Jiangsu Province Kunqu Opera House performed at the theater in Venice named after him, since, in a way, the Chinese production numbers reminded me of a Goldoni play. Kunqu is one of the most ancient forms of opera in China, with a history of more than six hundred years. As in the Commedia dell'arte, there are stock characters: martial, clown, old man, old woman young female lead, young male lead, painted face, etc.

From Wintergreen Kunqu Society:

Kunqu (pronounced kwin chu) is one of the oldest and most refined styles of traditional Chinese theatre performed today. It is a synthesis of drama, opera, ballet, poetry recital, and musical recital, which also draws on earlier forms of Chinese theatrical performances such as mime, farce, acrobatics, ballad recital, and medley, some of which go back to the third century B.C. or even earlier.
In a Kunqu performance, recitative is interspersed with arias sung to traditional melodies, called qu-pai. Each word or phrase is also expressed by a stylized movement or gesture that is essentially part of a dance, with strict rules of style and execution much like classical ballet. Even casual gestures must be precisely executed and timed to coordinate with the music and percussion. The refinement of the movement is further enhanced with stylized costumes that also serve as simple props.

The first piece, "Descending the Mountain" from the opera, "Ocean of Sin," was surprisingly bawdy and poignant, much like Goldoni's plays. A Buddhist monk, Ben Wu (played by Li Hongliang), whose name translates to "Matter-is-Nothing," escapes from his monastery.

He runs into a Buddhist nun, Se Kong (played by Luo Chenxue), who name translates to "Desires-are-Empty" and who, in turn, has escaped from her nunnery. Both of them are tired of living a life governed by religious dogma, but fib to each other about why they are outside their convents -- Ben Wu says he is getting food for his sick master, and Se Kong says she is going to visit her sick mother.

They fall head over heels in love, and, looking forward to finally experiencing physical pleasure, they confess the truth, and decide to get married to make it legit. A runaway monk and nun getting married so they can have sex reminded me of Giacomo Casanova's (1725-1798) antics back in the Venice of the 18th century, about the same time that Goldoni was writing his plays.

Cao Zhiwei
Image by Marco Secchi
My favorite piece was "The Monastery Gate" from the opera, "Cat o' Nine Tails." Cao Zhiwei, who specializes in the painted face role,  played the part of Lu Zhishen, a monk who can no longer stand being abstinent. He gets roaring drunk and decides to take advantage of his inebriated state by performing Buddhist acrobatic feats. Cao Zhiwei managed to twist his body into impossible positions, all the while balancing on one leg. As you can see by the image that the photographer Marco Secchi has so graciously provided, Cao Zhiwei was perfectly centered for what seemed like an interminable amount of time.

The bambo flute, drums and twangy Asian musical instruments sounded spicy and melodic, and the audience seemed fascinated by the exotic mix. Again, from Wintergreen Kunqu Society:

Each Kunqu performance is accompanied by a small instrumental ensemble, generally consisting of between 6 to 10 musicians. This ensemble is divided into two sections, named wen-chang, the section composed of wind and string instruments, and wu-chang, the percussion section.
The primary function of wen-chang is to accompany singing, led by the dizi, a horizontal bamboo flute. Depending on the play, it might also include a San-hsian (a three-stringed lute), erhu (a two-stringed fiddle), zheng (a bamboo wind organ or Pan's pipe), and zither.
The Wu-chang  section consists of a Chinese xiqudrum,  ban (wooden clappers), xiaoluo (small gong), daluo (big gong), and naobo (cymbals). It is led by a drummer who performs with a small drum and a pair of wooden clappers to set the pace of the play, while the gongs and cymbals are used to punctuate the action and emotion. The drummer is also the conductor of the orchestra. 

Kunqu Opera was a welcome treat for Venice, a cultural exchange between East and West of highest order.

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

You can find more of Marco Secchi's images at

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cat Bauer blogs for EasyJet - Part 2

Contemporary Art in Ancient Venice: Part 2

Palazzo delle Prigioni today. Credit: Brando
Palazzo delle Prigioni today. Credit: Brando
The easyJet Holidays blog has teamed up with Venice-based blogger Venetian Cat, to bring you something a little different to do on your holidays to Venice.
Some of the below exhibitions are running for the next few months, whereas some will be closing soon. Regardless of when you do get to Venice, these spectacular locations some of the city’s best, lesser known venues for art, with a few of those listed in both this post and Part 1 being amongst Venice’s more ancient buildings.
(Not seen Part 1 yet? You can start from the start here.)
….The construction of Palazzo delle Prigioni, or “Palace of Prisons,” began in 1563; then in 1589 it fell under the supervision of the renowned Antonio da Ponte, the same man who designed the Rialto Bridge. It was finally completed in 1614 and was used as the offices for the Signori di Notte al Criminale, magistrates who were in charge of night-time criminal behavior.
A few hundred years later, Hitler and Mussolini would hang out in the Palace of Prisons — in 1938 Hitler donated a piano upon which only the music of Wagner could be played. The piano is still there, but its repertoire has since become more flexible.

The Taiwan Pavilion has taken up residence inside the Palace of Prisons with the two-part installation The Heard and the Unheard – Soundscape Taiwan by the artists Hong-Kai Wang and Yu-Hsien Su. Visitors are invited to relax and listen the contemporary sounds coming out of Taiwan since the lifting of martial law in 1987.
The Heard and the Unheard – Soundscape Taiwan 
by Hong-Kai Wang &Yu-Hsien Su
Palazzo delle Prigioni
Castello 4209
Tuesday – Sunday 10:00am – 6:00pm
Through November 27, 2011
Click HERE to read the EasyJet Holidays Blog.
Ciao from Venice,