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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,
Current Location: Venice, Italy
22 June 2008 @ 06:36 pm
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08 March 2008 @ 03:33 pm
Apparently my Venetian Cat - Venice Blog is being imported into Live Journal without me doing a thing. That's fine with me, but I would also like to figure out how to import it here. So, until I figure that out, here is the link:

07 September 2007 @ 06:22 pm

September 6, 2007 - Thursday


(Since I haven't figured out LJ yet, this is from my MySpace blog - www.myspace.com/catbauer.)

Pavarotti, Bach and Life

If you have been paying some attention to my page, you will know that I was playing Pavarotti on You Tube up until a short time ago. Now, this morning, he is dead. I have put back the You Tube Turnadot video that was playing. Please listen to it until the end. "Nessun Dorma" means "no one sleeps." At the end, he sings, "At dawn, I will win. I will win." Watch the expression on his face... I have seen that expression in real life... while making love... for me, it is an encounter with "God."

I had the great fortune to see Pavarotti perform more than once. Once in Hollywood, at the Hollywood Bowl, and once in his hometown of Modena with Stevie Wonder and others. It was when I first arrived in Venice... I didn't even have a phone number. Stevie's brother called the rental agency who rented me the flat, and said, "This is Stevie Wonder's brother." They said, "Yeah... right."

Pavarotti was blessed with a voice from God. Like Stevie. I am sure it is not easy having that:).

Until next time, Luciano. Thank you for giving us so much.


Today, I went to Lido to the film festival to see Pere Portabella's "The Silence Before Bach." This was the third time they had invited me (twice before to Rome -- too far), and anyone who has read HARLEY'S NINTH knows that Bach plays an important role in my book. I did not put Bach in there by accident! It is there because I want to turn you onto Bach.

So... because the film is now in Venice, I went. I didn't get this third invitation until last night by email. I cancelled my appointments for this afternoon, and I went with a great effort. By walking, boat, then bus. I got some kind of day pass and arrived at the Sala Grande. The guards outside checked me and let me in. But then, the guards inside would not let me in. They said, "Show us accreditation." I showed them passes from other years; I showed them my Short Film Festival pass from this year; I showed them my Author's Guild card. They said, "It is not good enough. You cannot come in. The only way you can come in is with accreditation (that I would have had to have gotten back in July) or go out and buy a ticket. And even if you buy a ticket, we will not let you in because it is three minutes until 2:00 and we are closing the doors, so it is impossible."

I asked to speak to his superior, and it was the same story. Guards LIVE for this type of situation.

I was calm. I have been in this situation enough times in my life that I know better than to get agitated. I said simply, "Well, I have this invitation, and there is a phone number, so I will call the phone number."

I called. A woman answered. She said, "Where are you?" I said, "I am inside the Sala Grande at the entrance to a white gate. They will not let me pass." She said, "Turn around." I turned around. There was a woman about ten feet away from me. She said, "Come here."

I went. I arrived on the red carpet with the director, Pere Portabella and his entourage. Another woman gave me her ticket. She said, "Here. Take this. Then they cannot stop you."

The Superior Usher had run over and witnessed this. He could not do a thing. I handed the women my business card. The woman who gave me the ticket asked, "Do you want to interview Portabella?" I said, "I don't know. First I have to see the movie."

So, I went into the theatre in excellent company. We went up to the balcony and Pere Portabella received a grand welcome. This is his first movie in 16 years, as far as I can tell.

The movie started, and I began to weep because I love Bach too much.

Here are some notes:

The movie opens in an empty apartment, very large. There is a player piano moving, dancing, playing Bach.

Then a blind man takes a very long time to tune a piano. I was not bored because I believe I understand why we need to watch/listen to this, but you might be bored unless you make an effort to understand why the director spends so long on this.

Then there is a trucker who brings a man from a roadstop diner with him. He says: "They think we should not be allowed on the same road with them." His truck is painted with Virgins that cost him 1000 of what-ever-his-currency-is each.

Then we are in Leipzig, where Bach was the cantor of St. Thomas Church. We have a lot of history; we are back in the 1700's.

Then there is a great subway scene of young cellists playing Bach over the roar of the subway car, which I think I will steal in some form in the future.

Then there is a discussion about the river inspiring composers. Of water inspiring composers.

There is much more... some beautiful old pianos. I think you should make every effort to go see this movie if you are close to a major city. Or rent it. It is in many languages, but there are English subtitles. It is not an action-packed drama, but you will get a nice introduction to Bach.

A quick google reveals that there is a book of poetry called, "The Stillness of the World Before Bach" by Lars Gustafsson.

Think about that: THE STILLNESS OF THE WORLD BEFORE BACH. And then you will start to get it.

Everyone with a brain who cares about you is telling you to listen to Bach! So, go listen to Bach!


Current Location: Venice