Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mercoledi Musicale

I'm a day late with this - which is why it has yesterday's date at the bottom. The parade of passing greats just seems to go on and on. The renowned Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha died yesterday at the age of 86. She gave her last concert in 2003 at the age of 80, thus ending a 76 year career. Her first performance was at the age of 5. This performance of "La Campanella" is almost a brilliant as the woman herself.

I have many of her recordings and only wish I could have seen her live.

29 settembre - San Michele et angelli

Latin Lovers .... Postscript

Just after I posted that silly poll I came across this rather sweet little item from my friend Larry over at Amoroma.

And this certainly scores points for romantic.. and damn it even sensitive.

Colour me wrong ... or at least wrong in this one instance. He may have moved the Italian team up a notch!

30 settembre - San Sofronio Eusebio Girolamo

Latin Lovers... Hmmm.....

I don't normally like to duplicate something that anyone else has put up but just had to comment on this one. The Daddy - and I mean Daddy - of bloggers Joe at Joe My God had this little survey from the Daily Mail (yes murders and rapes and specials on drapes)about the World's 10 best and worst lovers (catagory Male).

Though I am pleased to see Ireland and Canada in the top ten I question that ranking for Italy. Obviously the women I have coffee with here weren't amongst those expressing their views. And that thing about Russian's being too hairy - I always thought Slavs were - not to generalize - smooth??? And maybe the Scot was playing his bagpipe?????

Oh and did I mention that I'm an Irish-Canadian!!!!!!

30 settembre - San Sofronio Eusebio Girolamo

Friday, September 25, 2009

To Go With the New Glasses

How about this little toy?
This vintage Rolls Royce convertible was parked, top down, near the Duomo in Firenze this morning. Now that owner is some trusting soul!

Yeah I could see me driving around town with the new glasses in that baby!

25 settembre - San Nicolao di Flüe

"Quote... Unquote"

My friend Michael in Washington, DC passed this on:

"Back in the 1900s, it was a wonderful experience for a boy to discover H.G. Wells. There you were, in a world of pedants, clergymen and golfers…and here was this wonderful man who could tell you about the inhabitants of the sea, and who knew that the future was not going to be what respectable people imagined." -George Orwell

One of the wonders of reading of my childhood - yes we had books back then - were the tales spun by Wells. I haven't looked at anything of his in years - I wonder if he is still read?

25 settembre - San Nicolao di Flüe

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Men Never Make Passes II

I want no comments about this picture - I didn't have the time to photo shop all the wrinkles out, hell nobody has that much time.

This is as close as I can get to the shaved, freshly cut hair, jacket and tie mandate I was given by my friend Marco.

I have a feeling that despite his best efforts I still look like a professor!

24 settembre - Beata Vergine Maria della Mercede

Old Aquaintances and Other Things

I've been erratic with the postings lately - sorry CP I know you need your fix - however life has been a carousel the past few weeks. Rather than try and explain it all here is the briefing note version.
  • I am working on a survey of prices here in Rome for the Embassy. It is an exercise done every four years to bring allowances into line with equivalent purchases made in Ottawa. It entails going from store to store and pricing something like 2000 items. Well when they start paying $125.00 for a pair of ordinary cotton pants in Ottawa we will be in line!
  • I am translating articles - reviews, media news etc - for a publication called Ballet2000. Its a tri-lingual monthly out of Nice and yours truly is up to his dancer's belt in pas de deux, grande jetes and the like.
  • I'm also working on a website for the Canadian Club of Rome. An organization headed by a dynamic lady aided and abetted by my dynamic spouse.
  • And then there's the contract with the Immigration section at the Embassy. Files, files and more files.

And I entitled this post Old Acquaintances - well September appears to be the month for them. I've been encountering a few people from my dubious past in the last two weeks:
  • My former boss from Transport Canada, Sheila and her husband Doug spent a great week with us. They were the perfect guests and put up with my cooking and the pups. They are saints!!!! And are welcome back anytime.
  • My former boss - are we noticing a pattern here - from Treasury Board, Yves and his girlfriend Linda were in town for a few days. They had just returned from a deluxe cruise of the Baltic and stopped off in Rome for a few days. We managed to meet up for lunch in the Ghetto - yes Taverna's roasted tomatoes - and dinner at our old local Lemoncini. It was a day of food, wine and fun.
  • And tomorrow we are heading up to Firenze for a few days to renew a very old acquaintance. I haven't seen my old roommate Ray in almost 38 years. He and his partner will be in Firenze for a few days so we thought we'd head up there and have a bit of reunion. I'm sure neither one of us has changed a bit in the past four decades.

A life "crowded with incident" as Lady Bracknell would say, or maybe just out of control???? Anyway once things get back to normal, what ever the hell that may be, I promise I've got a whole draft file full of things.

23 settembre - Padre Pio da Pietrelcina

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

GPV Revival

Its been a while since I posted a GPV and its not that I haven't taken pictures of Nicky and Nora - its just that the Hounds from Hell have been keeping me busy. They are quite the handful and I love them but there are days ... just like people!!!!!

Here's a short video and I didn't even have time to adjust the lights but I did want to capture it.

22 settembre - San Maurizio, Candido, Essuperio, Vittore e compagni

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lunedi Lunacy

Okay we know it was done with some sort of imaging programme but its still funny.

Thanks to my old colleague Marc for this one.

21 settembre - San Matteo aspostolo ed evangelista

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Va', pensiero*

As part of the annual Belcanto Festival at the Parco della Musica there was a noon hour concert today featuring the Chorus of Ste Cecilia and Banda Musicale dell'Arma dei Carabinieri (The Band of the Carabinieri)in arrangements of operatic music.

The programme ended with Verdi's great chorus of homesick longing: Va, pensiero. I was able to capture it in not very good sound or picture on my trusty Canon.

Fly, thought, on wings of gold;
go settle upon the slopes and the hills,
where, soft and mild, the sweet airs
of our native land smell fragrant!

It was a great moment in a fine concert and as with any performance of what is Italy's unofficial national anthem the audience was moved. It was doubly moving in that the performance was dedicated to the memory of the six Italian soldiers killed this week in Afghanistan.

The performance had begun with a minute of silence and a playing of the Last Post. It made me think of the two soldiers we lost this past week; a total now of 132 have died in the "peace keeping" mission our government sent them on. Sadly that same government cannot even put one flag in our capital at half-mast when the bodies are brought home. I am deeply ashamed of our politicians to whom these men and women are merely pawns and whose deaths can be dismissed with a few mouthed platitudes.

20 settembre - Sant'Andrea Kim Taegon e i Santi martiri corean
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Friday, September 18, 2009

L'Shanah Tovah

L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem (May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year).

This is a page from an Italian manuscript published in 1490 stating the rules for the celebration of Rosh Hashana, which began the Jewish High Holidays earlier this week.

Quite by chance we were in the Ghetto for dinner the night before at a restaurant which had been recommended in one of the tourist magazines. Ba'Ghetto is one of four or five restaurants on Via portico d'Ottavia and advertises itself as "the best Kosher restaurant in Rome". And if one goes by food alone it is exceptional, their Concia of zucchini was perfectly spiced, the goulash fork tender and the steak cooked to perfection. I would like to be able to comment on a few other dishes on the menu but it seemed that every second item was unavailable as were certain (cheaper???) wines. And we were told so with a take it or leave it shrug - and that was the major problem: the service. You become use to arrogant waiters here, it is all part of the game in certain restaurants and can be, believe it or not, entertaining. Sadly this young man could not carry off arrogance and was simply rude. At one point he walked away as Laurent was giving him his order. And the entire staff seemed disorganized - even for Rome!

I looked longingly across the street to La Taverna del Ghetto where we had eaten two weeks ago - there the food was excellent, the owner friendly and the staff - well they perform in true Roman tradition. And they had one of my favorite Roman-Jewish starters - Roast Half Tomatoes.

There is a very strong Jewish tradition in Roman cooking and many of the dishes that are consider local have their roots in the Ghetto kitchens - Carciofo (Artichokes) alla guidia, Tortino di aliciotti e indivia (anchovy and endive pie), many of the salt cod recipes and traditional dolci such as Prune and Pistachio torte.
This picture from their website doesn't half do this dish justice.

And of course those tomatoes - strange how I love food that seem to have the plural case ending "toes" - I mean don't get me started on potatoes!

Here's the recipe for those roast tomatoes - that can be used as a side dish or even as a dressing for pasta with a little bit of the cooking oil.

Roast Half Tomatoes

9 ripe medium tomatoes or 6 large ones
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic or to taste
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper
Olive Oil

Wash the tomatoes and slice them in half across the width. If there are a large amount of seeds, remove at least part of them.

Preheat the oven to 325f - 170c

  1. Use a flameproof baking dish large enough to hold all the tomato halves in a single layer - they can be crowded tightly as they will shrink in cooking.
  2. Arrange the tomato halves cut side up and sprinkle them with the parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Pour in the olive oil until it comes 1/4 inch up the side of the pan.
  4. Cook on top of the stove over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes until they are tender.
  5. When the pulp is soft, baste with a little of the oil and transfer the dish to the next to highest rack in the oven. From time to time baste with the cooking oil.
  6. Cook for about 1 hour until the tomatoes have shrunk to about half their original size - don't worry about some blackening they aren't burnt.
  7. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to a serving dish, leaving all the oil behind.

They can be served hot or at room temperature.

They can also be prepared several days ahead but since they are to be reheated they should be refrigerated with some or all of the cooking oil covered very tightly with plastic wrap. To reheat, return to a 325f-170c oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

PS: In answer to CP's comment - if they are drained properly there should be a good deal of oil left but I'm not sure how good it is for other uses but I do use it when the recipe is for pasta and it should be used to moisten the pasta when it serves as a saucing.

20 settembre - Sant'Andrea Kim Taegon e i Santi martiri corean

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Satan at the Stoop

Last Sunday was the second time I had stopped in at San Paolo fuori le Mura (St Paul Outside the Walls). It was an unscheduled visit because originally the plan had been to spend the afternoon at the Museo di Civita Romano in the EUR. The area was built with the intention of celebrating 30 years on fascism with a grand exposition but left incomplete because of the war. The buildings are Fascist architecture at its most grandiose - colonnades, broad flights of stairs and monumental decorations. The whole area is saved from sterility by the greenery and surrounding - unkempt - park lands. And we had plenty of time to wander around because as we discovered the Museo closes at 1330 on a Sunday and we arrived at 1300 - duh! name one other museum that closes on a Sunday afternoon?

Since it's on the subway line back into town a quick decision was made to combat the sterility of the buildings of the EUR with a baroque break at San Paolo. I won't go into the story of the Basilica as I've already written about it here. But as always a return visit to anything here is more than worthwhile, you always see something you've missed on a previous visit.
Such as this elaborate Holy Water Stoop outside the Chapel of Saint Benedict. As an innocent child reaches to dip his hand in the stoop Satan recoils from the blessed water.
The child is fairly generic for the period, though he has particularly muscular legs for one so young.
But it is the Satan that fascinated me - he could almost be a satyr or faun from antiquity. The musculature is that of a young athlete or a sculpted angel.
But he is a fallen angel. A tail curves around his lower body, his feet and hands are claws and his lush curls are parted by horns - all sadly blunted by time.
And though he cowers before the stoop there is no trace of anguish or revulsion and from certain angles he looks almost Pan like. The face bears no trace of Satanic evil and is rather handsome in a Roman way.

It is not a major work and is considered so unimportant that I could find nothing in any of the published information or online to reveal who sculpted this or when. Still I found the concept and execution more interesting than some of the more noted adornments that surrounded it.

For a virtual tour of San Paolo fuori le Mura go here.

18 settembre - Santa Sofia

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Images of Rome - Have Some Figs, Newton!

One of the, many, lovely things here are the fruit trees that grow almost everywhere. Via XX Settembre, a main street leading from Porta Pia into Centro is lined with orange trees and our compound has orange, kumquat and lemon trees. But the fruit is very seldom used for anything, it simply rots on the trees or the ground. Occasionally someone does pick it - like our friends Andre and Joyce who use the oranges in their neighborhood for juice - but mostly it just goes to waste. On a side street near us there's a beautiful fig tree (above) that shades part of the sidewalk and I have seen people from nearby offices and the Embassy of Côte d'Ivorie take a few as a snack.

But the bulk of it just falls to the sidewalk and road and forms a sweet, sticky, rotting mess - a sweet sticky mess that coats the soles of your shoes and is particularly attractive to wasps. And it seems that every year someone parks a vehicle for a few months under that tree. Last year it was an SUV, this year a different car but with the same result.
I love figs but I'm trying to imagine cleaning up the mess without taking half the paint with it. But I know that one morning I will walk by and the car will have disappeared - perhaps carried off by a swarm of wasps!

16 settembre - Santa Lumdilla

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Advice For ...

the Lovelorn:

I read this on a chat profile today and as romantic advice it makes perfect sense:
Never make someone a priority in your life when you're merely an option in theirs.

the Technically Challenged:
Copy & Paste (Inspirational)
A popular motivational speaker was entertaining his Audience. He Said: "The best years of my life were spent in the arms of a woman who wasn't my wife!" The audience was in silence and shock. The speaker added: "And that woman was my mother!"Laughter and Applause!!!

A week later a manager, who had heard the speaker, tried to crack this very effective joke at home. He was a bit foggy after a drink. He said loudly to his wife who was preparing dinner, "The greatest years of my life were spent in the arms of a woman who was not my wife!" The wife went speechless with shock and rage.

Standing there for 20 seconds trying to recall the second Half of the joke, he finally blurted out "...and I can't remember who she was!"

By the time the manager regained consciousness, he was in a hospital bed nursing burns from boiling water.

Moral of the story: Don't Copy if you can't PASTE
Thanks to Bev in Islamabad for that one.

16 settembre - Santi Cornelio e Cipriano

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lunedi Lunacy

I'm sure almost everyone has seen Jill and Kevin Wedding Entrance Dance which as of this writing has been viewed 24,383,513 on YouTube. Well someone out there realized that in the United States the divorce rate runs at around 40% and produced this little gem:

And speaking of divorce, John Marcotte has started a campaign to further the cause of traditional marriage so dear to the hearts of the God fearing supporters of Prop8 in California. He wants to take things one step further and under the 2010 California Protection of Marriage Act ban divorces in the State. As his slogan so boldly states: You said "Til death do us part. You're not dead yet." It does appear that a few legislators are refraining from making comment on the proposed amendment?????

14 settembre - L'Esaltazione della Santa Croce

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Siren with a Lens

I fell in love with the circus and Burt Lancaster when I was about 10 or 11. Back in 1956 my brother took me to see Ringling Bros Circus in one of their last appearances under canvas and I was enchanted. That same year Trapeze was released and I remember having the comic book and reading about it in one of the screen story magazines. And it had some poster! Lancaster and Tony Curtis in white circus tights. And standing between them Gina Lollobrigida all spangles, cleavage, doe eyes and pouty lips. But even at 10 the sight of Burt in tights did more for me than Gina in spangles.

La Lolla was one of those buxom foreign stars that came into the studio system as it was fading into oblivion. She was exotic, she was beautiful, she was Italian and she was hot. But she was always more than just T & A - she had a solid career in Italy and proved herself an accomplished actress in several other films that were popular in North America including The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Buona Sera, Mrs Campbell (the inspiration (?) for Momma Mia).

But there were other things besides film work that interested La Lolla. She began taking photographs of places she went and people she knew and saw. Her career as a photographer soon became as important to her as her movie stardom. She branched off into sculpture and painting and proved a major talent in those fields also.

We were fortunate to catch an exhibition of her work - 250 photographs - at the Palazzo delle Esposizion. We had gone in to see the Bulgari exhibition that Laurent talked about earlier this week -40,000,000.00 euros worth of bling!!!! A pretty spectacular show but frankly I was more impressed by the Lollobrigida exhibition on the 2nd floor.

Her photos range from the exotic to the every day - from unknown natives in jungles to world famous celebrities. And in everyone she has something to say about the human condition or the world she saw around her. Some really remarkable stuff.

I did a search on the web to see if I could find a portfolio of some sort and attempted the url for the website given in the exhibition catalogue but it was inactive. The best I could do was a few scans from the catalogue published by Damiani. It was difficult to choose there were so many wonderful photos but here are a few examples of the remarkable photographic talent of Gina Lollobrigida.

Perhaps the most loving photos are those of Italy. There are so many that truly capture the spirit of the country including one where the entire population of Subiaco, the village where she was born, showed up for a "family photo". Above left: Finally the show begins! Above right: The Monks of San Miniato al Monte.

Old age in the Old World and the New. Above left: Waiting to go to church, Calabria. Above right: Waiting, Denver.
Caught unawares or posed she captures the essence of her famous subjects. The toughness of a Bette Davis or the chameleon face of Ralph Richardson.

She said it took her a week before she could bring herself to go into the streets of Calcutta to take photos. Most of them are not as romantic as the Tomato seller, she captured the poverty and squalor as well as the beauty.
My first thought was that these were two grandmothers - one in Manila, the other in Shanghai. But apparently the top photo is a mother - old before her time - and her child. Such a contrast between it and the child with the noddles -a photo that brought a smile of recognition to Laurent's face when he saw it.

As I said it was difficult to choose what to scan without doing the whole catalogue, I only wish it was available online so I could share it with you. She is a remarkable talent.

13 settembre - San Giovanni Crisostomo

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Guys Never Make Passes...

At men who wear glasses!
with apologies to Dorothy Parker.
On-going Conversation between me and my Napolitano friend Marco:
6 months ago:
Me: I need new glasses, I think I'll do that next week.
Marco: ....
5 months ago:
Marco: Do you have your new glasses yet?
Me: No but I will see about them next week.
4 months ago:
Marco: Do you have your new glasses yet?
Me: No but I'll see about them next week.
3 months ago:
Marco: Do you have your new glasses yet?
Me: No but I'll see about them in a week or so.
Last week:
Marco: Do you have your new glasses yet?
Me: No I need to go with someone who speaks Italian but I'll see about ....
Marco: No, we will see about them next Wednesday. Meet me at Piazza Regina Margherita at 1745.
Tuesday Night:
Marco: Tomorrow we will get your glasses.
Me: Yes I'll meet you after work.
Marco: You should have your hair cut and make sure you shave!
Me: ???????
Marco: And wear a nice dark blue suit.
Me: I'll wear my tuxedo.
Marco: You are a silly man. You must look your best when you are choosing glasses, its very important.
So this past Wednesday I met Marco at the appointed place and the appointed hour - I did not have time to get my hair cut but I had shaved, was wearing a blue dress shirt and had actually remembered to bring my prescription. We went into a few Optica in my neighborhood.

I tried on a pair of frames and noticed that Marco had that look on his face that you give people who order a cappuccino after noon hour. "Do you really intended to look like an old professor?" he asked rather pointedly. I put them down sheepishly and reached for the next pair and returned them to the counter very quickly when I saw that look! I tried several more sportier, lighter frames and found a great pair of Rayban - blue tinged, light and studious without being antique professor. The look on Marco's face told me he approved. Then he asked all those questions in Italian that I would never have been able to - guarantee, types of lens etc.

At the next store I knew better than to even consider the "professor" frames and went straight for the more sporty ones finally settling on a pair of thin Adidas specs. And again they got the Marco look of approval. More discussion with the oculist about guarantees, lens etc.
I wasn't able to find a photo of the RayBan but here are the Adidas.

But which did I prefer. They were both nice but different. And a pair of glasses is a big investment here. Again good solid Napolitano logic came into play.

Marco: You must go home and think about it. And tomorrow come back with Laurent, he is the one who has to look at you all the time.

Good advise, so I went home and thought about it, took Laurent back the next day and made my decision. Marco agreed wholeheartedly with my choice. In 10 days time I should no longer look like a "professor".

11 settembre - San Ramiro

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Lux Perpetua Luceat Eis

11 settembre - San Ramiro

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

All Blocked Up!

No its not what you think! Honestly some of you - and you know who you are!

This there anything that Calvin and Hobbes don't have the answer to?

Apparently Blogger's Blog is just a case of laziness - I'll buy that! I have at least five things in the works, I do, really I do - I wouldn't lie to you, well I would but only about the unimportant things.

But just so Dora and DF know - no this isn't like this time last year when I stopped blogging because I was in the hospital - I'm around, hale and relatively hardy for a man my age. But I'm back at work for a while, trying to train the hounds from hell - who are fine by the way and I do have a Nicky and Nora Note on the way - and working on the translations for Ballet2000. And I had a few things written in the new Blogger Editor which then disappeared - sorry guys but it's a piece o'crap.

All that to say I will return as soon as I get the colander set up; but damn him Laurent keeps taking it to drain pasta!

09 settembre - San Pietro Claver Corberó

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Lunedi Lunacy

We've all meet them at one time or another.

I love Mitchell and Webb.
07 settembre - Santa Regina

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mercoledi Musicale

"A Century Later, She's Still Red Hot" reads the headline on a New York Times article this week heralding the release of the some rare recordings from one of the greats of 20th century showbusiness: Sophie Tucker. She made her first recording in 1910 and her last in the late 1950s.

Her she is in a number she recorded in 1929 that still seems very topical today:

And Sophie kept things topical even in the 50s.

She was indeed the Last of the Red Hot Mamas!

02 settembre - Sant'Elpidio

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pesaro - La Scala di Seta

One of the great joys I've found since moving here is that I am seeing performers in person who I've read about, who's recordings I have listened to or who I've heard on broadcasts for years - Abbado, Pollini, Bartoli, Scholl and the list goes on. When I looked at the programme for this year's Festival I must admit I recognized quite a few names - Florez, Aldrich, Kunde - but one name did jump out: Claudio Scimone, listed as conductor for La Scala di Seta. When looking at the programme notes I was surprised to see that he had not appeared at Pesaro since 1985 when he conducted his own critical edition of Maomatto II. The absence of this well-respected and internationally known conductor and Rossini authority from the Pesaro podium is a mystery. But he was there this year and I had the privilege of seeing live someone who's recordings, particularly with I Solisti Veneti, I have listened to for years.

Written in 1812 La Scala is one of Rossini's five one-act farsi composed for the Teatro Giustiniani in Venice and one of five operas he wrote that year. It is a slight piece based on a slighter French play about a secretly married couple, an unwanted suitor, a meddling servant and the silken ladder used to enter the young lady's bedroom. Rossini wrote some charming music for it, the best known piece being the overture.
The cast take their bows in front of the reflected floor plan of a modern apartment which just happens to be the address of the theatre. Let's hope it doesn't give some developer ideas!

Director Damiano Micheletto updated the action to today with i-pods, track suits and espresso machines with little harm to the story. Again we had a large mirror tilted to reflect the stage floor which showed the floor plan of a very nice modern flat on the first floor of Via Rossini 2 which just happens to be the address of the theatre we were sitting in. As the overture began stagehands began to drag furniture, plants, lamps and units (including a functioning kitchen sink) into place under the watchful eye of a real estate agent. As the action progressed singers mimed flattening themselves against walls to overhear conversations, opening doors or holding those same non-existent doors closed. The action was fast-paced, at times frenetic and had a bit of the a TV5 comedy touch to it. Though it did beg the question as to why a vibrant young lady who lived in her own very classy apartment, had a vaguely oriental houseboy and jogged in the Piazza Ducale with i-pod in place would need her guardians approval to get married or sneak her husband into the house.

Olga Peretyatko (right with Paolo Bordogna) was the young lady in question - and as well as giving a deft performance of the music she look pretty damned hot whither in jogging gear or smart casual. It was interesting that she was paired with Jose Manuel Zapata who did not quite fit into the opera singer as movie star mold which seems to be preferred amongst casting directors today. A short, stocky bear of a man with a sweet tenor voice I for one could understand the attraction. Carlo Lepore played the slightly greasy Latin lover with a fine comic flair and handled his interpolated aria with ease. Of the other female in the cast, Anna Malavasi, I will simply say that I did not find the slightly sour edge to her voice appealing.

The best performance of the evening came from Paolo Bordogna as the poor put upon house boy Gemano. In his ink-black mop wig, sandals and pajama-like outfit he was obviously meant to be the Oriental houseboy of so many 60-70s movies though in a slight nod to political correctness - and in deference to its many Japanese patrons - it was stereotype with soften edges. Bordogna delivered the most polished singing of the evening and a delightful comic performance.
Conductor Claudio Scimone (centre) joins his young cast - Daniele Zanfardino, Carlo Lepore, Paolo Bordogna, Olga Peretyatko and José Manuel Zapata for a curtain call.

But the real star of the evening was Scimone in the pit leading the Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento. He conducted with a brio and joy that turned this, let's admit it, light-weight work into a delight. The obvious pleasure he took was reflected in his face and body language at the curtain calls. He was obviously pleased with the work of his young cast and orchestra and with the applause they were receiving. He was justified - under his expert guidance they had given us two hours* of enjoyment which was the whole raison-être of these pieces.

*Though Scala di Seta was written as an one act opera Pesaro performed it in two acts and include an aria for the Latin lover that Rossini had written for some other use. Artistic director Alberto Zedda explained that in 1812 the creator of the role had not had a particularly good voice so was denied an aria; here they had a fine singer who deserved a chance to show his stuff so another source was robbed to give him the opportunity. It was a very Rossini solution and I'm sure he would have approved.

Sidebar: I was sitting at the hotel pool one afternoon and an elderly gentleman and his wife came out to take a bit of the sun. The gentleman had a ulcer of some sort on his leg and was moving slowly, I helped him and his wife get settled in, moved lounge chairs etc. When they left we exchanged pleasantries and I kept thinking that I recognized him. It was not until he entered the pit the next evening that I realized it was Scimone.

01 settembre - Sant'Egidio

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Take the Pledge

Some of you may recall that last year I swore off all manner of spirituous drinks on my Italian (!) doctor's orders.

Because she knew I had fallen off the wagon while I was on vacation in August and a few times this past two weeks my dear friend Christine thought she would send me this by way of encouragement!

I'll have a tumbler of Pinot Grigio please! And keep them coming!

01 settembre - Sant'Egidio