Ciao Tutti Voi,
Native Venetians generally feel like proud, during the main Carnevale week, not to attend places and entertainments defined “touristic”; they “flee” from Campi, Calli e Campielli, attending private parties, going every evening to theaters and concerts. Exactly like our students did, thanks to this course of History of Venetian Theater and Music,during this last week. They spent the entire Carnevale week in the same way of Native Venetian citizens. Wednesday evening: Venetian composers’ Concert with prof. Stefania playing the cello; Thursday evening: Mozart Requiem directed by Maestro Marino Moretti a Teatro La Fenice; Friday evening: “The Servant of two Masters” played at Goldoni theater by Compagnia del Teatro Stabile del Veneto; Saturday afternoon: guided historical visit to internal rooms of La Fenice Theater: The best way to live Carnevale in Venice and, at the same time, to put into practice the theoretical part of the course. Now it’s time to draw conclusion. Today review session. Tomorrow Final exam. I just hope this is not a conclusion but the beginning, for the future, of a new way to watch a performance (or a movie too) at theater as like as a new way to listen to a piece of Classical Music or Opera. I only would like to thank this amazing group for the interest, the enthusiasm and the attention paid during these weeks. Thank you for your patience with my English not always “perfect”. A special thanks to the teacher of Music, prof.ssa Stefania Franceschini. In particular, thank you FVCC and Susan to have gave me the possibility to go back on stage! And, how do we say in Italian? IN BOCCA AL LUPO PER L’ESAME!
FVCC Visiting Professor
Ciao! This week did not disappoint. I’m going to jump right in!
First of all, I would like to say that I totally underestimated the beauty of Carnivale. What I had pictured in my head and what has been displayed in front of me are two completely different ideas! Masks and costumes and decorations! Special pastries and performers! There are several events you could attend every day in every part of the city. In San Marco’s Square, there’s a different DJ every night and big concert lights in the sky that you can see from almost anywhere in Venice. There are special themed parties, special foods, and parades! Even though tourists make everything a little more crowded, they bring this incredible energy to the city, and I can feel the buzz of Carnivale every place I go. Carnivale lasts two weeks, and I think every holiday should last two weeks. It is wonderful.
This week we also attended lots of outings and performances including a Mozart concert, a tour of the La Fenice theater, and a comedy play called “A Servant of Two Masters.” The comedy was my absolute favorite! It was this over-the-top, melodramatic, soap opera-like show complete with musical numbers and drama enough to last you a lifetime. Every cue was spot on, every comedic gesture hit at just the right moment. It was very high quality theater! I howled!
Every day in between classes, me and my friends go to the same exact cafe. I always get a hot chocolate and usually a chocolate croissant if they have one. On Tuesday, I asked my favorite coffee lady, Francesca, “Tu hai una brioche con cioccolato?” (Do you have a chocolate croissant?) and she shook her head. The next day I went to the cafe again. When I walked in, one of the workers disappeared to the back and returned with a chocolate croissant, already on a plate and heated up for when I got there, just because they were thinking of me. It is incredible how one random act of kindness can create such an impact on someone! I felt so special! And the day after that, they did the saved me another one! I’ve found that most Italians are very hospitable and kind people.
Venice has steadily grown on me since the moment I got here. It has so much spunk and life for a city that hasn’t had much change much since the 12th century. It has been good for me to stay here so long, because otherwise I wouldn’t of had enough time for it to grow on me the way it has.
Carnivale is in full swing, confetti is everywhere almost like a second floor to the city, residing on top of the cobble stones, that currently make up the majority of the streets of Venice. Impromptu parades are almost always happening, this week Abby and I had the best view of one as it passed through San Maurizio underneath our windows, there was a rhythm being kept by drums that echoed across the square and came in through every window in our house, what a sight to see. All of the women were dressed in bright versions of period dress, as well as the men, and as they walked they held tall poles above the heads of the participants that waved with flags and objects, Everyone looked kind of like a train of ants, from our windows, wandering the same path and carrying supplies home to the final destination.
Another chance encounter had us walking through the neighboring campo as we walked there was American music being sung by a group of people. Along with the people there was a huge, and kind of freaky looking, masked figure, that appeared to be floating. The shoulders were at least twice the size of two men standing side by side. It was wearing a mask with a hooked nose that kind of looks like a bird, with glasses over the top of that. It seemed to look and feel sinister in its flowing black cloak. Rather than stay and enjoy the music, the both of us returned to our house, and moved away from the slightly frightening, huge, kind of weird looking, floating ‘thing’.
We attended two events this last week, the first being a Mozart concert, the second being a rendition of “The Servant of Two Masters”. If you are ever in Venice and in a mood to see a hilarious play please do go see this play!, It is amazing and always different each time it is created. There is love, hate, a woman dressed as a man, a damsel in distress, a crazy servant, an over eager to marry and very excitable young man, his father, the girl he wants to marry, her father, the death of a brother through duel with a lover, and all around entertainment!
Did you know that La Fenice is actually translated into ‘The Phoenix’? Personally I did not until this last week, when we attended a concert in this theater and later returned to tour it and get a closer look inside. This name is quite apt for this particular theater considering it has burned twice, and only left the facade standing. The first fire was thought to be an accident derived from a fire place, but the last time it burned in 1996 it was deliberate. The workers who were supposed to be restoring the theater (as most of Venice is constantly being restored) were behind schedule and would have to pay a fine for not working at the speed they were expected to. So instead of having to pay a fine they decided to light a “small fire” and I say ‘small fire’, to ruin some of the work and allow for an excuse to not be working on schedule. Little did they know, the entire theater was to be encased in flames that lasted for days, only leaving the bare bones of the outside of the structure to be left standing. So rather than pay the fine, they caused one of Italy’s most beautiful theaters to once again have to be fully restored, and left Venice without a place for true entertainment (probably two much worse consequences than just a fine). By the way, lighting fires in Venice is illegal and extremely dangerous as the city has a multitude of old wooden structures within. So in the end La Fenice is a true phoenix, rising twice from burnt out ashes to once again be the most beautifully portrayed theater in all of Italy
. Grazie for tuning in. See you all again next week.
This has been a week full of theater and concerts. First, we got to listen to our teacher Stefania play in an orchestra. Then we listened to an arrangement of Mozart’s “Requiem” in the famous Fenice Theater. Anna took us to watch a comedy play called “Servant of Two Masters,” which was hilarious. All the performances were spectacular.
Saturday, we visited the Fenice Theater again with Stefania. It is a such a cool place, it’s almost as grand as Saint Mark’s Basilica or the ducal palace with all the velvet and gold gilding everywhere. “Fenice” is the Italian word for Phoenix and it was called this because it was meant to replace the Benedetto Theater which had burned down. So, the name is very fitting, especially since the building gets caught on fire twice since then.
Down time is becoming wonderful thing. Between walking everywhere, having lessons, and doing things for fun; setting aside time to rest…scheduling downtime is greatly needed. As many things as there are that I still want to do, it can be difficult to take a break. For example, Saturday, aside from the Tour of the Fenice, we didn’t have to do anything, so I stayed home and relaxed.
I wrote this week’s blog on Saturday because Sunday we will go to Verona for the day and I don’t think that I’ll have time to write it then; but, by the time anyone reads this, we will have already returned and have some stories to tell. Until then, Arrivaderci!
This week has been absolutely insane with Carnevale. I underestimated the amount of chaos that this Venetian traditional attracted to tourists. Even though it has been going for three weeks now, this week was definitely the craziest. I can see why the people who live in the city have a love hate relationship with the whole thing. On one side of the spectrum, it brings in basically all the revenue to the small businesses; on the other hand, you can walk in the alleys without being halted by the mass crowds. I’ve had to push and shove my way through numerous packs of wanderers to get to school on time almost every day. Sometimes the bridges get so jammed that you end up standing on the top of them without moving for five minutes straight. This description may not seem like the most idyllic way to relax in the beautiful Italian city, but it is still magical. This tradition carries so much excitement and hype throughout the alleys that it is hard not to smile even when you’re stuck behind a mob of tourists. The masks, outfits, and spirit that comes to Venice during Carnevale is truly an experience that you can only find here. The little kids seem to have the most fun with the confetti and fratelli (special carnevale pastries), while they run through the crowds on full sugar highs. Even the weather was perfect this week; sunny and warm almost every day. I finally made a trip out to the Lido (the beach of Venice) and fell in love with the place. I sat at a cafe with a view of the sea, my feet in the sand, and was able to get lost in my book for almost three hours. I think my cheeks even got a little pink from the sun. I definitely hope I will get a chance to go back there before I leave. These next fews weeks will be jam packed with new and fun adventures, and I can’t wait. I’m heading to Milan after Italian class on Friday and I couldn’t be more excited. I will tell you guys all about it next week! Ciao!
Wow, another very busy week has already gone by, time here just keeps picking up speed. I can’t believe that my stay in Italy is half over and my stay in Venice only has one month left. I am going to miss this place terribly, especially the friends I have made here.
We have started Italian 2 and have almost finished our Music and Theater classes. Thursday our music class was at the Fenice Theater. That evening many of us dressed up in fancy dresses because we were going to enjoy a concert by Mozart. That was a lot of fun and the music was beautiful. Friday our theater class was at the Goldoni Theater and we saw Arlecchino. We had read and discussed the play earlier that week and it was amazing to see it performed. Saturday afternoon our music class went back to the Fenice Theater. We had the pleasure of an audio tour. While the concert was enjoyable, I was really glad we were given the opportunity to take the audio history tour. We were given little audio players that one put to their ear and listened to the history of the Fenice. I very much enjoyed being able to sit in the grandeur of the theatre area again. I was able to notice things that I hadn’t noticed on Thursday night. The craftsmen’s ship is amazing, especially when noting that the theater has burned down twice and been rebuilt. Each time the architects tried to keep the original grandeur while making minor updates. Many parts of the building that has been only partially destroyed by fire, the workers had to painstakingly refurbish the original moldings and architect. I must also note that the Fenice was the first theatre to be built not inside a nobleman’s home. The sole purpose of the building was for the arts; music, concerts, and meetings. Also, there are two entrances to the building. One that faces the street and opens into the foyer, the other is at the back of the building and opens onto a canal. The entrance that opens onto the canal was designed for the rich noblemen. All wealthy houses had their own gondola and gondolier so the wealthy could arrive to the theater in style.
If anyone ever plans to visit Venice I highly recommend going to the Fenice Theater and taking the tour. The Fenice Theater is the most beautiful theater in Italy according to my teacher Stephania; even though I haven’t seen many other theaters in Italy, I think I will have to agree with her simply because it would be hard for any building to top the Fenice.
I’m going to dive straight into a rant so prepare yourself. Media. Let’s start there. Is it not a continuing argument (or discussion if you prefer) on how media affects the minds, of not only children, but adults today and throughout the centuries? As a woman, I will center my focus there. Women are told to look skinnier, then to look thicker, then to look muscular then they go back to being told to look skinnier. Tanner, thinner, bigger lips, less hips, bigger breasts, smaller hands, etc, etc, etc! Is it not just as exhausting to hear as it is to see on a daily basis? Stick with me here. One of the oldest sculptures discovered is of a woman, The Venus of Willendorf. Now The Venus of Willendorf is an 11cm high sculpture of, well… a fat woman. This figurine dates back to 28,000 BC, so she contains no facial features and is missing even her feet (as was common for sculptures back in that age); she is not what we know so much as realistic but was a symbol of what a woman is. A woman was known for her fertility, energy, nurturing and love, aren’t we still in a way? Her waist is not thin, her breasts aren’t alert and her hair isn’t long and flowing as the media now a days says we should be. We have turned women from loving and nurturing hands to an object for the eye. This whole rant came about while I was in the Church of San Giovanni Elemosinario this week. As I was waiting for the Laboratorio Orchestra of Venezia to start, in which my music teacher Stefania is a part of, I was admiring the beautiful paintings on the walls and one in particular caught my eye. The painting contained a nude woman (as most do), who was twisting back a little and reaching up to Heaven with one hand. I stared at the painting in awe of its beauty. The woman was not what media today teaches us is beautiful, but she was real. The painter caught the extra fat on her stomach that we refer to today as a ‘pooch’. He painted the creases in her stomach at her side where her body twisted back. Everything on this woman was real. It is so incredibly refreshing to see these ancient pieces of art and sculpture in and around the churches and the cemeteries and the palaces here. To see things as they were seen back then, without alteration or adjustment, but just real. I have a huge appreciation for the art here and the breath of fresh air it brings about to my perceptions.
We are officially on the last half of our semester abroad in Venice. We still have 5 weeks here, but as weird as it might sound, I can already feel how much I am going to miss this place.
This week was the last week of Carnevale. Even though the celebration goes until next Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), this weekend was the peak of the tourists in town. It is fun seeing all the costumes and how much work people put in them. However, at the same time, I understand why most of the Venetians don’t like this party. The city gets so full of tourists and they walk around unaware of their surroundings. They block passages of streets and bridges, so for the locals, who still have to go on with their routine, it can be a little unpleasant.
This week was also the peak of our theater and music class. Besides our regular lessons, we went to watch a presentation in the theater ‘La Fenice’ and a play in the ‘Teatro Goldoni’. What an experience! To say that ‘La Fenice’ is beautiful is not even close enough to express its beauty. Stefania brought us to watch a concert with Mozart’s opera songs on Thursday. We sat in the last gallery, 4th floor, and we contemplated that incredible performance. It is hard at moments because we want to pay close attention to the stage, but we also want to look at every corner of the theater. On Saturday, we went back to ‘La Fenice’ for a tour, so we were able to visit the first floor, observe the stage from up close and I even discovered details that I didn’t see on Thursday. The theater has a stunning gallery that, centuries ago, was built to receive Napolean Bonaparte in his visit to the ‘La Fenice’. The gallery has a beautiful view from outside and from within. An interesting fact is that the Theater has experienced significant burn damage twice in its history. The most recent one was in 1996 and it took over 7 years for the reconstruction of the theater. ‘La Fenice’, which means ‘The Phoenix’, proved that its name fit itself very well because it was ‘reborn’ indeed from its ashes. The theater is a must stop for everybody who comes to Venice, even those, who like me, do not understand a lot about music.
In the theater class, we had a blast this week. We read two plays written by Carlo Goldoni: ‘The Servant of Two Masters’ and ‘Mirandolina’. I enjoyed reading these plays, and I was especially pleased to know that a writer of the 18th Century wrote strong female characters. In the Greek theater, women were treated as an object and they were not even allowed to be part of the plays. In the Roman theater, women started to act, but they still got small and secondary characters. However in this instance, to read a play where women were the central part of the story, made me cheerful.
On Friday, we went to the ‘Teatro Goldoni’ to watch one of the plays we read early that week: ‘The Servant of Two Masters’. The theater is not as big and ornamented as ‘La Fenice’, but it has its own beauty. It is a lovely theater and very cozy. We sat close to the stage and we had a delightful time watching the comedy. The actors did a wonderful job making the words come to life.
We will have our last theater and music test in two days, and then we are done with that portion of the semester. I am very grateful and happy I was a student of Anna and Stefania. As I said after our first week of classes, they are passionate about what they teach and that made me to want to learn as much as possible with them. I am grateful for having met them. They allowed me to have unique experiences and to get more knowledge in subjects that it is not my area of study. I appreciate everything they taught us and I hope they had as much fun with us as we had with them.
Besides our theater and music final, I will also have my Italian mid-term. After that, we will be free for a weekend. Part of the group and myself are going to Bergamo. It sounds like an adventure!
Have a great week, everyone.