Monday, November 26, 2012

Glass in Venice - Pino Signoretto & Bertil Vallien - Lightning on Earth

Bertil Vallien
(Venice, Italy) The prestigious Glass in Venice award was presented on Thursday, November 22 at the Veneto Institute of Science, Letters and Art to two distinguished glass sculptors, Pino Signoretto and Bertil Vallien.

Palazzo Franchetti is a beautiful palace on the Grand Canal where the the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti is located. It was erected in 1565,  nearly 450 years ago, and contains all sorts of magical information gathered by the wizards of Venice, France and Austria over the centuries. So, receiving the Glass in Venice award is sort of like getting a special recognition  from Hogwarts.

Pino Signoretto
Pino Signoretto was born in 1944 in Favaro, a small town in the Veneto. At the age of ten, he started working in a glass factory, apprenticing under such masters as Alfredo Barbini, Livio Seguso, Ermanno Nason and Angelo Seguso, rapidly rising to level of master himself.

Throughout his long career, Pino Signoretto has developed an international reputation in sculpting hot glass. Amazed audiences all over the globe have witnessed his unique ability to create with molten glass, and his mastery over the fiery material.

On his second visit to Japan, he performed in the presence of the Imperial Family; his sculptures are on permanent display at the Museum of Venetian Art in Otaru. He has produced sculptures for Dale Chihuly in Seattle, Washington and taught in many schools of glass and universities throughout the United States. Signoretto has the energy of hot glass coursing through his blood, has wrestled it under control, and tamed it enough to be able to produce magnificent Earthly objects, down to the smallest detail.

Bertil Vallien was born in 1938 (which I find astonishing, since he has the energy of a man a decade or two younger) in Sollentuna, a small suburb north of Stockholm. Raised in a devoutly religious home,Vallien  felt conflicted and restricted by the faith being imposed upon him. His spiritual quest is reflected in the profound emotion contained in his sand-casted glass sculptures.

When asked, Why work in glass?, Vallien admitted it was a difficult material to work with, but "glass has qualities that no other material has." Vallien said he wanted to express what was in his head and his heart with his hands, but since it is impossible to touch liquid glass, he creates negative molds made out of sand, which gives him control. When accepting the Glass in Venice award, he said, "how touched and pleased I am to receive this prestigious prize. All over the planet when you talk about glass you say: Venice, Venice."

After the ceremony, I wandered around the Bertil Vallien exhibition Nine Rooms inside Palazzo Franchetti and was overwhelmed. I had the same emotion I felt when I first saw the work of the video artist, Bill Viola, many years ago. Both artists grasp something deeply spiritual and universal, and put their own essence of that understanding into their work. It has been a long time since I fell in love with a contemporary artist, but I fell in love immediately with Vallien. He has the magic touch.

As I passed through the Nine Rooms, I longed to touch the glass sculptures, but forced myself to resist. Then, in Room 5, where the glass boats were, an older man stroked his hands across a boat. I was pleased to see I was not the only one who wanted to stroke the glass.

So I did.

Room 7 was filled with tall, heavy glass pendulums that almost reached to the ceiling. They were still. I wanted to start them all swinging. I was alone, so I pushed them into action. The glass was heavier than I expected, and the frames supporting the glass less sturdy. For a few moments, I was concerned that I was going to topple them all; that the entire glass pendulum room might go crashing to the floor, or worse, knock over the Murano glass chandelier hanging perilously from the ceiling. But they stood tall, swinging to the rhythm of the Earth. I thought they looked much better in motion.

The pendulum, the glass, the decadence, and then, the water rises. 
A giant-like pendulum hangs above Piazza San Marco.
The pendulum invalidates time.
It is independent of the Earth's rotation.
Time is beyond life's landscape.

On my way out, I ran into Bertil Vallien. I told him that I wanted to stroke the glass, and that I did do it after I saw another man do it, and asked if that bothered him. (I didn't tell him about the pendulums:)

He said, no, it didn't bother him; that it was okay. I said, it's strange, isn't it? That I wanted to stroke the glass, and so did all the others? He said, it's because it's tactile. I said, yes, but I've never had such a great yearning -- when it comes to marble, for example -- it is not the same. 

Anyway, it was a great honor to meet Vallien, and I told him so. And I am pleased that there is a Glass in Venice award from the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, an Institute of the highest degree. It is like an award for working with Lightning on Earth.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Venice Playwright CARLO GOLDONI IN THE SPOTLIGHT - Attention Scholars!

Carlo Goldoni statue in Campo San Bortolomeo - Photo: Nino Barbieri
(Venice, Italy) If you have ever been to Venice, you will know that the statue in the center of Campo San Bortolomeo at the foot of the Rialto Bridge is of Carlo Goldoni (1709-1792), whom Voltaire called, "the Italian Molière." Goldoni's farcical plays about the Venetian society in which he lived reflected the dying days of the great Republic, which had lasted more than a thousand years.

According to tradition, Venice was born in 421AD; the republic was conquered by Napoleon in 1797 -- just five years after Goldoni's death.

To say that Goldoni has recently made a comeback is an understatement. After receiving rave reviews in London, one of his plays just closed to critical acclaim on Broadway. Which play was that, you ask? Why, it was The Servant of Two Masters, which has been zapped into the 21st century under the title of One Man, Two Guvnors. From Wikipedia:

Photograph: Cindy Ord/Getty Images
One Man, Two Guvnors is a play by Richard Bean, an English adaptation of Servant of Two Masters (Italian: Arlecchino servitore di due padroni), a 1743 Commedia dell'arte comedy play by the Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni. The play replaces the Italian period setting of the original with Brighton in 1963. The play opened at the National Theatre in 2011, toured in the UK and then opened in the West End in November 2011, with a subsequent Broadway opening in April 2012.

Here is a clip starring James Corden before he was JAMES CORDEN.


 Blimey, It's a Hit! Broadway's One Man, Two Guvnors Recoups Its Investment

Bob Boyett and the National Theatre of Great Britain said on Aug. 22 that their acclaimed Broadway production of One Man, Two Guvnors, which won star James Corden the 2012 Best Actor Tony Award, recouped its $3.25 million capitalization in the week ending Aug. 19.

The Complete Comedies of Carlo Goldoni (1830)
With all the renewed interest in the great Venetian playwright comes a new scholarly quaderni annuali produced by top experts in the field. Promoted by the Civic Museums Foundation of Venice - Carlo Goldoni's House, in collaboration with prestigious institutions such as the CISVE - Inter-university Centre for Studies Veneti, the National Edition of the Works of Carlo Goldoni, Teatro Stabile del Veneto and the Universities of Venice and Padua, the new "Studi Goldoniani" are divided into studies and reviews which offer scholars a chance to stable critical debate, and to ensure readers a detailed and updated review of the "stato di lavoro."

According to the brochure, "the journal aims to complement and animate the permanent laboratory for philological and historical-critical investigation represented by the Edizione Nazionale delle Opere di Carlo Goldoni, and the newly created Edizione Nazionale delle Opere di Carlo Gozzi: thus participating fully in reviewing tested but hitherto unproductive historiographical paradigms, and radically redesigning the features of the theater world (and others) of the 1700s."

Studi Goldoniani
To order a subscription of the beautifully-bound Studi Goldoniani and/or the online subscription, please visit LIBRA web, the online platform of the publisher, Fabrizio Serra Editore.

In times like these, when the world reaches a critical pitch, mankind has learned that sometimes the best thing to do is just laugh.

"Painter and son of nature," wrote Voltaire, at that time the arbitrator and the dispenser of fame in cultured Europe, to Carlo Goldoni, then a rising dramatist, "I would entitle your comedies, 'Italy liberated from the Goths.'"
From The Comedies of Carlo Goldoni, edited with an introduction by Helen Zimmern, published 1892 by David Stott, London.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Venice High Water in November 2012 - Similar to Venice High Water in November 2008

(Venice, Italy) High tide was exceptional here in Venice today, with seventy percent of the city flooded. Venetians and shopkeepers were caught off-guard, as the tide was predicted to rise only to 120 centimeters. Instead, it rose to 149 centimeters, or nearly five feet.

This is not the first time this has happened. We had a very similar situation in November and December 2008, four years ago when Barack Obama first won the US presidency. He has just won a second term, and I am very pleased about that, as is most everyone else who cares about the Earth and all the creatures who live upon it. We are all much wiser now, and this time things were not as dramatic as they were four years ago. You can read what I wrote about that here, and keep clicking "Older Post" at the very bottom on the right if you would like to read the acqua alta reports that led up to this particular post:

What is Aqua Alta and is it Dangerous?

Photo: Jonathan Ulman
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, this year I've decided to pull some news stories together for you so you can just click on the headlines to read more. This evening, over by Rialto all the street lights were still out around 9PM, otherwise things are pretty much back to normal.

Near the end of this post is an amateur video of those tourists in the top photo swimming to their table in the middle of Piazza San Marco.

From the Huffington Post:

Venice Flooding Fails To Discourage Tourists, While 200 Evacuated After Heavy Rain In Tuscany

Meanwhile in Venice ‘acqua alta’ or high water season, has been one of the highest ever recorded, with some parts of the city submerged under five feet of water.

From The Guardian:

Photo: Marco Secchi-Getty Images

Venice 'high water' floods 70% of city

Venetians direct anger at forecasters after 'exceptional and unpredictable' rise in sea waters floods homes and businesses

Tourists attached plastic bags to their legs or stripped off to take a dip in St Mark's Square in Venice on Sunday as rising sea waters surged through the lagoon city. High water measuring 1.49 metres (5ft) above the normal level of the Adriatic sea came with bad weather that swept Italy at the weekend, causing floods in historic cities including Vicenza as well in the region of Tuscany 250 miles further south.

From the Daily Mail

The Floating City: Heavy rains flood Venice and reach the sixth highest tide level in 150 years

  • 70 per cent of central Venice underwater today reaching 59 inches
  • Tourists waded through waters in wellington boots and donned swimwear
  • Iconic St Mark's Square flooded leaving normally bustling square deserted

  • It may be known as the Floating City of love.
    But romance was cast aside today as gondolas were swapped for wellington boots and swimwear.
    High tides and heavy rain flooded Venice's dry streets, leaving tourist hotspots virtually deserted.
    Tourists chose to wade through the waters in boots, with one group donning swimwear to sit at a table in the iconic submerged St Mark's Square.

    And here's that amateur video of the tourists going for a swim in Piazza San Marco:

    Ciao from Venezia,
    Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

    Saturday, November 3, 2012

    Extreme Weather - Venice, the USA and the Europe Winter Forecast from AccuWeather

    Photo: Manuel Silvestri/Stringer/Reuters
    (Venice, Italy) The high water, or acqua alta in Venice has been overshadowed by the news of Hurricane Sandy. But at about the same time the United States was being bombarded by extreme weather, here in Venice, we, too, had heavy winds, rain and flooding. The water rose to a little over 140 centimeters, or just under five feet. In Venice, we have long stopped expecting any help from the State. All the shops clean up the mess themselves; residents pull on high-water boots and tourists are forced to invest in a pair of "wellies." Then life goes on. The Venice Marathon went on as usual on Sunday, October 31, 2012, with the runners actually competing in the extreme weather.

    27th Venicemarathon Philemon Kisang and Emebt Bedada won in severe weather conditions

    Venice, October 28, 2012 – Rain, wind and  high tide didn’t stop the 27th Venicemarathon who saw  winners the Kenyan Philemon Kipchumba Kisang (2h17’00”) and the Ethiopian Emebt Etea Bedada (2h38’11”).

    Click HERE to read the story at the Venice Marathon official website.

    I get a lot of press releases, guest blog requests and other information from companies looking to promote themselves on Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog, and refuse most of them. But this one from is so unique, forecasting the European winter, and written by a Meteorologist by the name of Meghan Evans, that I've decided to share it with you in its entirety -- plus I think it's cool that discovered Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog. AccuWeather is a for-profit weather service that competes with the National Weather Service in the United States, and whose owner, Joel Myers, is "a frequent contributor to Republican candidates," according to Wikipedia.

    We will follow up in the spring and see just how accurate AccuWeather turned out to be...

    AccuWeather News

    Europe Winter Forecast: Not as Harsh as Last Year's Deep Freeze 

    November 2, 2012 -- State College, PA -- While cold shots blast portions of western and northern mainland Europe at times, stormy weather may hit southern Spain, the Mediterranean region and southeastern Europe.

    Meteorologists expect Siberian cold to reach portions of western and northern mainland Europe, especially during the middle to latter part of winter. Much of the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal will have below-normal temperatures for the season.

    "January to February will be the best chance for cold air coming out of Siberia," Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said.

     Left: The seafront is frozen in the Adriatic coastal town of Senj, Croatia, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012, in the midst of a deadly cold wave. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

    However, the cold will not last as long or be as harsh as the deep freeze of last winter, Reppert emphasized. During the second half of January and early February 2012, bitterly cold air originating from Siberia killed hundreds of people across Europe.

    RELATED: Europe's Deadly Deep Freeze of January and February 2012

    Well to the north of the active storm track expected this winter, near- to slightly below-normal precipitation is in store for the U.K., Ireland and Scandinavia.

    "London will be mild to start [this winter]. Then it will be turning colder for the end of the winter. That could be there best chance for any snowfall late January and February," Reppert said.

    Farther south, a storm train will be in place for much of the winter from southern Spain, the Mediterranean region and southeastern Europe. Above-normal water temperatures of the Mediterranean Sea will help storms to strengthen as they move across the region, enhancing rainfall.

    Italy, Greece, former Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey are all included in the zone that could receive above-normal precipitation for the winter season. The active winter storms will keep temperatures close to normal for the season in this zone.

    The above-normal rainfall predicted from southern Spain to Italy and southeastern Europe will be beneficial for drought-stricken areas. Severe to exceptional drought conditions are gripping portions of Portugal, Spain, Italy and eastern Europe.

    The drought impacted agriculture, including a significant hit to grapes that will cause higher wine prices.

    Meanwhile, snowfall for places like Rome, Italy, which received rare snow last winter, is less likely this season.

    One exception to unusual snow occurrences this winter may be the French Riviera.

    "The French Riviera is like Jacksonville, Fla. It typically gets snow once every five years or so," Expert Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls explained. "There might be a cold outbreak in France, especially late in season, during February, for southern areas that may allow snow to fall."

    Paris may also receive a snowfall during the latter part of the season.

    On the northern edge of the storm train, more snow than usual is forecast in the Pyrenees Mountains, the Alps and Balkan Mountains. With above-normal snow and temperatures that will be cold enough to sustain heavy snow pack, a good ski season is anticipated.

    Across Germany, above-normal snowfall is forecast from Frankfurt on south. Berlin may receive near-normal snow.

    By Meghan Evans, Meteorologist

    If you have questions or want to speak with a meteorologist, please contact our 24-hour press hotline at (814) 235-8710 or email

    This is a commercial message from AccuWeather, Inc.
    385 Science Park Road | State College, PA 16803

    Ciao from Venezia,
    Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog