Category Archives: Art

The Four Seasons Friday, December 9 & 10, 2017 at Powell Hall

The Four Seasons

Sat 12/9/17 8:00PM
Sun 12/10/17 3:00PM

Laurence Cummings, conductor and harpsichord
Avi Avital, mandolin
Jelena Dirks, oboeVIVALDI L’Olympiade Overture
TORELLI Concerto grosso in G major, op. 8, no. 5
MARCELLO Oboe Concerto in D minor
CORELLI Concerto grosso in D major, op. 6, no. 4
VIVALDI The Four SeasonsIn an awe-inspiring and intriguing twist on a beloved classic, Avi Avital joins the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performing Vivaldi’s ever-popular The Four Seasons as you’ve never heard it before. Substituting the mandolin for the violin, Avital makes “The Four Seasons virtually fly off the page in high-energy, joyous readings” (The New York Times). Laurence Cummings conducts this captivating performance that puts both the soloist and ensemble on virtuosic display.
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Art Inspiring Music: Italian Renaissance Oct 23, 5:00pm Kemper Art Museum

The Clarion Brass Quintet, the Washington University Chamber Choir, and faculty from the Department of Music will perform works from the Italian Renaissance including antiphonal brass favorites of Giovanni Gabrieli and vocal masterworks of Palestrina.

October 23, 2017 – 5:00pm
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum


The rise of printmaking in Europe in the early fifteenth century facilitated major transformations in visual culture. Serialized images began to circulate on an unprecedented scale, extending beyond the confines of palaces or churches to reach new audiences of artists, collectors, and connoisseurs. Renaissance and Baroque Prints: Investigating the Collection surveys the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum’s substantial holdings of prints from the late fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. Highlights include work by major innovators of the medium of printmaking such as Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) and Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) as well as Daniel Hopfer (c. 1470–1536), Marcantonio Raimondi (c. 1480–c. 1530), and Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778).

Printmaking during the Renaissance and Baroque eras served a wide variety of purposes. As part of the Renaissance in Northern Europe, such artists as Dürer developed sophisticated techniques and subject matter that elevated the print to an important art form in its own right. Prints also played an integral role in the growing fascination with classical antiquity that was a hallmark of the Renaissance era, fueled in part by the proliferation of printed images depicting ancient sculpture and buildings that were disseminated throughout Europe. In the Baroque era printmaking continued to flourish as Rembrandt and others experimented with new techniques and dramatic expressive effects that lent an emotional immediacy to traditional religious scenes. Printmaking also served as a medium that reflected imagined worlds, as in the fantastic architectural scenes of Piranesi.

Renaissance and Baroque Prints: Investigating the Collection offers a unique opportunity to study the Museum’s rich collection of works on paper, much of which has rarely been shown. A variety of printmaking techniques are represented by the works on view, including woodcuts, engravings, and etchings, complemented by a selection of drawings from the same period. The display is conceived as a catalyst for new research on these works through a series of public talks with faculty, students, and curators specializing in this area.


Image credit: Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528), St. Anthony Reading, 1519. Engraving, 3 13/16 x 5 9/16″. Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis. Gift of Dr. Malvern B. Clopton, 1930.

The exhibition is curated by Allison Unruh, associate curator.

About the collection:

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St Louis International Film Festival Nov 2 -12, 2017

J. Kim & Sharon Tucci Italian Focus

Sponsored by Pasta House Co.

Call Me by Your Name

Friday, November 10 at 8:00pm

It’s the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, and Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17-year-old American-Italian boy, spends his days in his family’s 17th-century villa transcribing and playing classical music, reading, and flirting with his friend… Read more

Doc Shorts: The Unexpected

Friday, November 10 at 5:00pm

Unusual dispatches from around the globe.

The Leisure Seeker

Saturday, November 4 at 6:45pm

The first film in English by Italian director Paolo Virzi (“Human Capital”), “The Leisure Seeker” — which debuted at the Venice film fest — tells the story of a runaway couple going on an unforgettable cross-country journey in their vintage camper. Seriously ill… Read more

Let Yourself Go

Saturday, November 11 at 6:30pm
Sunday, November 12 at 5:20pm

In this Italian variant on the screwball comedy, an uptight psychologist gets more than just a physical workout when he signs up for personal-training sessions with an attractive young instructor. Toni Sevillo (“The Great Beauty”) is outstanding as Elia, a… Read more

Pizza Shop: An Italian-American Dream

Sunday, November 12 at 2:45pm

What is an immigrant’s typical experience in America? What does he sacrifice, and what does he gain? “Pizza Shop” provides one family’s answer to those questions, lovingly illustrating what it means for Charlie and Fred Osso, immigrant brothers from Calabria,… Read more

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Verdi’s battle over censorship of his revolutionary opera

Verdi’s Rigoletto Premiere, Venice, March 11, 1851

Since its opening at the Teatro La Fenice, Rigoletto has re­mained one of Verdi’s most cele­brated works, a favorite with audiences and critics alike. Even the aged Rossini, who until Rigoletto had withheld his praise, finally acknowledged Verdi’s musical genius. And when the opera opened in Paris, it ran for over 100 performances to packed houses, causing Victor Hugo (au­thor of the opera’s source) no little resentment. But the highest praise came from George Bernard Shaw, a famous music reviewer as well as playwright, who described Rigoletto as “a treasure of art and genius burnt into music.”

But Verdi’s success with Rigoletto did not come without difficulties with government censors, who almost sunk the project. Adapted from Hugo’s play, Le Roi s’amuse, the Aus­trian military censors found the libretto too controversial. [Readers will remember prior to the Italian Risorgimento; northern Italy was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.] Indeed, Hugo’s play had been too strong even for Parisian audiences, who drove it from the stage after only one performance. They considered it licentious and anti-royalist.

Giuseppe Verdi

Verdi was determined to adapt the play to opera. He thought Le Roi s’amuse “a creation worthy of Shakespeare.” So, to comply with the censor’s demands, Verdi agreed to demote King François I to a duke, change the setting from France to Mantua, and delete a bedroom scene he never in­tended to stage. He would not, however, eliminate the sack used for Gilda’s death, an objection the military censor made on purely aesthetic grounds. [Alas, how far we have come from those days of the soldier-scholar-­aesthete.]

“The Censorship”—as Verdi con­temptuously called it—dogged him throughout his career, and for Rigoletto the battle was won only in Austrian-controlled Italy. No sooner was the opera transferred to Rome, Naples, or Palermo than it underwent new censorship tinkering, ludicrously reflected in its many name changes: Viscardello, Lionello, and Clara di Perth, the latter nicely displaying the Italian censors’ penchant for setting all disagreeable stories in Scotland, where anything could happen!

For Verdi, Rigoletto closed his “galley years,” the early chapter of his career when he wrote fif­teen operas in twelve years; more importantly, Rigoletto caused dra­matic changes in Italian opera. To audiences brought up on Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti, Rigoletto was uncon­ventional and full of surprises. For example, from the opening curtain, the Duke’s banter about his amorous affairs seems to prepare us for a light, comic opera; not until Count Monterone enters is there any hint of the opera’s dark side. But once in place, the tragic com­plication is immediately taken up in the music, shunting aside its opening gaiety.

Moreover, Verdi’s revolution­ary changes can be seen in every part of the opera’s musical struc­ture. Reducing show-stopping arias to a minimum, the music is inextricably bound to the drama, everywhere supporting the action and delin­eating character. Gone are the conventional arias that so often exist solely to call attention to themselves and show off the illustrious singers who demanded them, no matter what the dramatic situation required.

By contrast, the Duke and Gilda’s famous arias—”Questa o quella” [This one or that, they’re all the same] and “Caro nome” [Sweet name of my beloved]—are essential to their respective char­acterizations. And the Duke’s “La donna ê mobile” [Women are fickle] adds a bitter touch to the dramatic irony of the last scene. The final strains of this throw-away aria, sung offstage by the careless Duke, provide the chilling backdrop for Rigoletto’s tragic discovery.

Apart from these arias, Rigoletto unfolds musically in a se­ries of duets and dramatic exchanges. Gone are the big en­semble numbers, where princi­pals and chorus plant themselves in static poses, to “tell” us of the drama unfolding; in their place are scenes “enacting” the drama. This is beautifully illustrated in the exchange between Rigoletto and the assassin Sparafucile, as well as in Rigoletto’s concluding “Parisiamo” [How alike we are]. Their encounter employs recitative, duet, and monologue, but no conventional arias to detract from the drama and characteriza­tion Verdi sought.

This extraordinary dramatic technique can be seen everywhere in Rigoletto, but its most pow­erful illustration is in the opening scene of Act II, where Rigoletto searches for evidence of Gilda at Court. At first brusque with the courtiers, he is soon reduced to pleading, then finally condemns them—”Cortigiani, vil razza dannata” [Vile, damned courtiers]. In this moving exchange, the music for Rigoletto and chorus departs completely from anything Italian opera had seen before, fluctuating between recitative and arioso to create this powerful scene.

By thrusting drama into the forefront, Rigoletto became the central piece in Verdi’s opera revolution. With it he changed opera from a singer’s showpiece to an integrated drama, one that demands all elements work together. And, as if such radical changes were not enough, never before had such a subject ap­peared in opera. Only Verdi would consider using a deformed—both physically and morally—jester as his central character; but for Verdi, Rigoletto was a new kind of tragic figure, “outwardly ridiculous and de­formed, yet inwardly filled with passion and love.”

The story of this pitiful jester, condemned to his hateful role (played, alas, all too skillfully) represents a new direction in opera. And after Rigoletto, the place of music in opera was so altered, the Italian musical stage would never be the same. And in his own operas from 1851 on—La TraviataSimon Boccanegra, Un Ballo in Maschera, Otello and Falstaff—Verdi continued to build on the revolutionary changes Rigoletto intro­duced, and the composers who followed have been forever in his debt.


by Gilbert R. Davis

Dr. Davis has contributed notes for Opera Grand Rapids’ productions for over 35 years.

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Winter Opera Schedule

Date/Time Event Venue/Location
Fri 11/10/2017
at 7:30 PM
The Student Prince – Sponsored by Mary Pillsbury The Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade
Saint LouisMO
Fri 11/10/2017
at 7:30 PM
Winter Opera St. Louis – 2017-18 Season Subscription – FRIDAY The Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade
Saint LouisMO
Sun 11/12/2017
at 3:00 PM
The Student Prince – Sponsored by Mary Pillsbury The Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade
Saint LouisMO
Sun 11/12/2017
at 3:00 PM
Winter Opera St. Louis – 2017-18 Season Subscription – SUNDAY The Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade
Saint LouisMO
Tue 12/5/2017
at 7:00 PM
Holidays On The Hill Dominic’s on The Hill
Saint LouisMO
Wed 12/6/2017
at 7:00 PM
Holidays On The Hill Dominic’s on The Hill
Saint LouisMO
Fri 1/26/2018
at 7:30 PM
Les pecheurs de perles The Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade
Saint LouisMO
Sun 1/28/2018
at 3:00 PM
Les pecheurs de perles The Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade
Saint LouisMO
Sat 2/17/2018
at 11:00 AM
Royal Tea at the Ritz Ritz – Carlton St. Louis
St. Louis,
Fri 3/9/2018
at 7:30 PM
L’elisir d’amore – Sponsored by Nancy Pillsbu


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The Impresario Club is an exclusive club for donors of $2,500 or more. An Impresario is a patron who understands the importance of the arts and is a major financier and supporter. We could not maintain our season without you!

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Picasso’s Italy journey celebrated in Rome expo

In the frosty first months of 1917, Spanish master Pablo Picasso travelled to Italy in search of inspiration for the sets he was designing for the “Parade” ballet.

One hundred years on, a new exhibition in Rome celebrates that journey with 100 paintings, drawings, watercolours, sketches and stage costumes looking at how Italy and the Ballets Russes theatrical troupe inspired the artist.

“Picasso between Cubism and Neo-Classicism: 1915-1925” opens on Friday at the Quirinal Stables, but the highlight — an enormous work titled “Parade” — is going on show at the nearby Palazzo Barberini.

It was one of the few spaces in the Italian capital able to accommodate the monumental stage curtain with its winged horse and street performers, which measures 16.5 metres by 10.5 metres (52.5 feet by 33.8 feet).

“It is the biggest work painted by Picasso but it also marks the end of his Cubist period and return to the figurative,” Palazzo Barberini director Flaminia Gennari Santori told AFP.return to the figurative,” Palazzo Barberini director Flaminia Gennari Santori told AFP.

“The trip to Italy was very important for Picasso, who was very interested in artists like Bernini, in Baroque sculpture and painting,” she added.

Picasso, who was based in Paris, arrived in Italy in February 1917 to meet Serge de Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russes, for a collaboration which would revive his spirits.

“The world was at war, and he, a Spanish man on French soil, had seen many of his fellow travellers go to the front. He was sad and had little work,” said curator Olivier Berggruen.

The two months of his Grand Tour around Italy would prove fateful for the 36-year-old. Shortly after his arrival in Rome he met Olga Khokhlova, a ballet dancer who would become his wife and principal muse.

“When he was not with Olga, the artist liked to immerse himself in the lively atmosphere on the streets of Rome or Naples, attracted by popular shows but also by classic monumental sculpture,” Berggruen said.

And the Vesuvius volcano in southern Italy created such an impression on the artist he included it in “Parade”.


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Movie: Mona Lisa is Missing at Washington University November 3, 2017

Mona Lisa Is Missing – TRAILER from Joe Medeiros on Vimeo.

Did you know the Mona Lisa was stolen… and that she was missing for nearly 2-1/2 years? Find out how and why in “Mona Lisa Is Missing,” a fun, fascinating, and award-winning documentary about the 1911 theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous masterpiece. Now more than a century since this unthinkable theft, writer/director Joe Medeiros finds the real reason an Italian workman named Vincenzo Peruggia stole the masterpiece from the Louvre — a reason even Peruggia’s only daughter didn’t know.

Admission: $5 per person

Friday, November 3, 2017 – 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm
Laboratory Sciences Room 300
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO
Contact: Kathy Lewis
314-935-7378 /
Live & A with Filmmakers


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Welcome Benedetta Orsi, Mezzosoprano, to St Louis

By Michael J Cross, VP of Ciao St Louis

Benvenuta Benedetta Orsi, Mezzosoprano, to St Louis

St Louis is well known for its musical traditions. One that is increasingly becoming popular is the Winter Opera of St Louis, now on its 11th season. This year features a world class repertoir such as Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore Georges Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles. The Winter Opera will have the additional presence of Benedetta Orsi, a renowned mezzo-soprano, as she moves from Bologna to her to new home, St Louis, this year. Orsi is a graduate of the Regia Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna and studied with famed tenor Sergio Bertocchi. Orsi also graduated from Modena’s Istituto Musicale Pareggiato Orazio Vecchi. She has participated in master classes and stage workshops with Teresa Berganza, Luciana Serra and Fred Carama, and Glenn Morton.

Benedetta is no stranger to the limelight as she has performed at Carnegie Hall for the Eighth Annual ABC Gala. Recent performances also include the role of Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera with the Miami Lyric Opera, Sara in Roberto Devereux in London and Jane Seymour in Anna Bolena with Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music Theatre. Other appearances include the roles of L’Italiana in Algeri and Carmen, as well as Giovanna in Anna Bolena, Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda and a special performance of Teresa in La Sonnambula with the New National Theater of Tokyo’s Young Artists Training Program.

Among competitions, she has starred in Academy of the West with Marilyn Horne in New York; the Rolando Nicolsi International Competition in Italy; and the Bidu Sayao International Singing Competition in Brazil. She has also won the Audience Award and Special Prize of the Italian Music Federation at the 28th International Piro Boni International Singing Competition in Italy, and was also chosen to receive a First Prize and Star Performer Award in the American Protégé International Music Talent Competition in 2011.


It is certainly a pleasure to have Benedetta Orsi make her home in St Louis. We hope she chooses to stay here for years to come. For more information on her upcoming roles at the Winter Opera St Louis, please visit their website:

Awards and Honors2014: Audience and Orchestra Award, Boulder International Vocal Competition

2012: First Prize, Barry Alexander International Vocal Competition
           Award in Recognition of Outstanding Accomplishments, American Protégé
2011:  First Prize, American Protégé International Music Talent Competition
          Scholarship Award, American Protégé International Music Talent Competition
           Star Performer Award, American Protégé International Music Talent Competition
           Award in Recognition of Outstanding Accomplishments, Club Unesco
2010:  Audience Award, International Singing Competition PieroBoni
           Special Prize, International Singing Competition PieroBoni
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Meet Italian violinist Elisa Citterio, Tafelmusik’s new music director

Hot-shot Italian violinist Elisa Citterio makes her debut this week as the orchestra’s director with A Joyous

It’s been three years since Jeanne Lamon retired as music director of Toronto’s illustrious Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. The new kahuna is Elisa Citterio, a hot-shot Italian violinist who makes her debut this week as the orchestra’s director with A Joyous Welcome, an appropriately titled program that not only opens Tafelmusik’s 2017-18 season, but ushers in a new era as well. Not entirely comfortable conversing in English, Citterio answered our questions by e-mail.

When you were brought in as a guest conductor last year, did you feel it was a sort of audition for the job of Tafelmusik’s new music director?

At that time I knew about the search process and that there were a few candidates being tried out. Everyone at Tafelmusik welcomed me so kindly that I almost forgot that I was doing an audition.

The news release announcing your hiring heralded a “new era” for Tafelmusik. What will the new era entail?

For the precise reason that Tafelmusik is so well-rooted, it’s natural to expect changes. We have a wonderful team and we can build on what they have achieved under the excellent guidance of former director Jeanne Lamon. I am looking forward to creating more educational possibilities for children, to attracting a wider variety of people to our concerts, to commissioning new works by Canadian composers, to trying some experimental programs and to touring in Europe, especially Italy.

What about musically? A quirkier style perhaps, or looser?

Jeanne Lamon has created a very recognizable style, and the musicians have a way of playing that is very solid and efficient. It would be easy for any director to put their stamp on Tafelmusik without distorting the orchestra’s characteristics. My objective is to respect the musicians’ sensibilities and their ensemble playing while adding my own personal interpretation. An explosive mix.

Is there a concert program this season that is representative of the changes you’re making?

This season was mostly done when I signed my contract, so I worked on just a couple of programs. A Joyous Welcome, starting this week, will be the first concerts of the season. And there’s Elisa’s Italian Adventure in October. Both of them are representative of myself, but the following season will be totally done under my artistic direction. Thank you for your patience.

Outgoing director Lamon described you as a “Tafelmusik person.” What does that mean to you, to be a Tafelmusik person?

If I have to think of one word about Tafelmusik, it’s family. Everyone shares their ideas and opinions and each result is the fruit of a team effort. My first objective is to share all aspects of musical life at Tafelmusik while being conscious of being the person who has the ultimate responsibility for certain choices. I think this aspect of my personality is in line with Tafelmusik’s philosophy.

If someone was unfamiliar with Tafelmusik, which recording by the orchestra would you suggest they listen to and why?

The recordings of Beethoven’s symphonies, to show that Tafelmusik can play much more than Baroque music very well.

How about yourself? Say you’ve had a rough day at the office, which recording do you listen to when you get home?

Bach’s The Goldberg Variations, since it reminds me a lot of my youth. Furthermore it is timeless music that always give you a different emotional experience.

Are you expecting rough days at the office? What’s your biggest challenge?

My big challenge is English. How much more would I be able to say in Italian!

Tafelmusik’sA Joyous Welcome, under the direction of Elisa Citterio, runs Sept. 21 to 24 at Koerner Hall and Sept. 26 George Weston Recital Hall. Information at 416-408-0208 or

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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Watch La Linea, the Popular 1970s Italian Animations Drawn with a Single Line


Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations.

Thus spake designer Paul Rand, a man who knew something about making an impression, having created iconic logos for such immediately recognizable brands as ABC, IBM, and UPS.

An example of Rand’s observation, La Linea, aka Mr. Line, a beloved and deceptively simple cartoon character drawn with a single unbroken line, began as a shill for an Italian cookware company. No matter what he manages to get up to in two or three minutes, it’s determined that he’ll eventually butt up against the limitations of his lineal reality.

His chattering, apoplectic response proved such a hit with viewers, that a few episodes in, the cookware connection was severed. Mr. Line went on to become a global star in his own right, appearing in 90 short animations throughout his 15-year history, starting in 1971. Find many of the episodes on Youtube here.

The formula does sound rather simple. Animator Osvaldo Cavandoli starts each episode by drawing a horizontal line in white grease pencil. The line takes on human form. Mr. Line’s a zesty guy, the sort who throws himself into whatever it is he’s doing, whether ogling girls at the beach (top), playing classical piano (above) or ice skating (below).

Whenever he bumps up against an obstacle—an uncrossable gap in his baseline, an inadvertently exploded penis (NSFW, below)—he calls upon the godlike hand of the animator to make things right.

(Bawdy humor is a staple of La Linea, though the visual format keeps things fairly chaste. Innuendo aside, it’s about as graphic as a big rig’s silhouetted mudflap girl.)

Voiceover artist Carlo Bonomi contributes a large part of the charm. Mr. Line may speak with an Italian accent, but his vocal track is 90% improvised gibberish, with a smattering of Lombard dialect. Watch him channel the character in the recording booth, below.

I love hearing him take the even-keeled Cavandoli to task. I don’t speak Italian, but I had the sensation I understood where both players are coming from in the scene below.

Watch the complete collection here.

via E.D.W. Lynch on Laughing Squid

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