Friday, November 23, 2012

Bargello National Museum

, Although there are many interesting treasures in this small museum, the Donatello Room in and of itself is worth the visit, containing as it does the original statue of St. George, moved from its niche in the Orsanmichel. The base of the statue contains a bas relief of  his combat with the dragon, complete with fair maiden, done, as the guide books say, in rilievo stiacciato, or flattened relief, a method whereby the image is manipulated so as to appear to recede into the background.  Unfortunately, time and atmospherics have so blurred the marble that this quality was not obvious to me.

Also of interest was the statue of St. John, the Evangelist, suitably gaunt and looking like a prelim for his later striking work of Mary Magdaline, now in the Museo dell'Opera.

Another surprise in this room were works not by Donatello,  but finalist submissions for the 1401 contest for a design to replace the east doors of the Bapistry. Seeing the works of  Brunelleschi and Ghiberti mounted side by side on the wall, I could see features I liked in each submission, as did the committee who did the judging.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Venizia again

Couldn't pass up a chance  for a quick three days back in Venice before we head back to the thrice-driven beds of down of Pasadena.  Aside from a few unfortunate encounters with the Venetian criminal element (viz, the Resturante La Rivera) it was very satisfying, as we managed to cover all the bases of the Venetian Triple Crown: St. Mark's Basilica, the Palazzo Ducale and, one more time, L'Accademia.
Finally managed to get a decent picture of the marvellous ceiling of the first room of the first floor in the Accademia, a nice counterpoint to the rather severe pre-Renaissance iconography that much of this room contains.
Also a couple of rooms and centuries up,  one of mia mogile's favorites, which I admit is pretty cool, Tinteretto's St. Mark flying in to rescue a slave, right over the camera, so to speak.

St. Mark's square and the Basilica were a lot more enjoyable this time around (a somewhat chilly but sunny November day).  Here it is looking a lot like Luna Park,

 and we made the rather arduous climb up to the loggia and the place where the four horses stolen from Constantinople (and, nearby, outside, their replicas) are displayed.

As for the Basilica, it seemed to me, what with all the gold mosaics laid on everywhere, to be more an adjuct to the Palazzo Ducale treasury than a place of worship.  But that's just me--if you like it, go for it.

Despite its charming facade, I found the Palazzo Ducal a grim and intimidating place -- more suitable for the headquarters of some sixteenth century secret police. Here's your faithful reporter strugging up the golden staircase just as the foreign visitors did, hoping for a word with the Duke.

The staircase itself, despite its obvious purpose, is rather nice, looking, as it does, more like a wedding cake decoration than an instrument of intimidation.  So at least the poor sods had something interesting to look at on the way up.

Appropriately, the tickets included a tour of the place's prisons where Casanova was resident before he managed the only reported escape. Also part of the legend, he fled only as far as the nearby Cafe Florian (see earlier post) to enjoy a coffee before heading for the border. Way to go, Casanova.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

RIAS Kammerchor

Sunday, the fourth of November at 8:30 or so found us at the Teatro della Pergola, a charming 18th century theatre not far, as we discovered, from our present lodgings.
We expected a pleasant evening of early music, but were quite astonished at the quality of the group.
I would guess that they do at least some of their performances in cathedrals around  Europe, as there were several selections of antiphonal singing, first with part of the choir in the hall, and later with some in the rear of the auditorium.  Both arrangements seemed to work well. The group is known for its perfomances of contemporary music, and that's fine, I guess, though modern choral music isn' t really my thing. The only work I had trouble with was something by G. Scelsi which sounded to me like an air raid warning followed by aerial combat. The Messiaen was fine, and of course, the Palestrina, but the real event ws the Bach motett, Komm, Jesu, komm as the final work. What a knockout.