Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Sunday morning concert and mosaics

Marquetry in the hotel lobby. Swirling movement .... think of Tintoretto - though this is nothing like Tintoretto... Perhaps it simply mirrors some kind of urge to recreate visual ebbing and flowing...
The Teatro Aligheri is another splendidly bright yellow northern Italian opera house.
Lucky to get a ticket for a concert. Its in the Sala Corelli and the pianist is ill so the maestro will play Bach partitas. Amazing. He has a contract with Sony. A grumpy man in front of me calls out requests for old favourites to the intense annoyance of the audience. Paganini! At one stage the maestro stops and waits for silence.

Outside afterwards it is grey and cold compared to Venice. The town has a reconstructed feel. My 1950 Blue Guide says it suffered heavily from aerial bombardments in the last war. The war memorial makes sobering reading - particularly the 'reprisals'.
Maybe because so much has been rebuilt- there's little sense of the town that Byron knew. No one seems to know which Palazzo he rented in the Via Cavour - or whether the Palazzo Gamba (which looks possibly reconstructed) is where Theresa, object of affections, lived. Lots of places are named after Byron - even the breakfast room in the hotel - but there is little really about him....
At the end of the street are astonishing mosaics in San Vitale - as there are in other key churches around the city. But for one used to the emotion of Venetian art - they are initially baffling. It takes the Blue Guide to tell me that they are very early - 6th century - and informed by a classical tradition. Ravenna was the last capital oof the Western Roman Empire. Christ - could I even say - looks like a Roman emperor in these mosaics. The dizzying apses mirroring Hagia Sophia in Istanbul....

Fantastic marching figures in Sant'Apollinare Nuovo - again 6th century - a procession of 22 Virgins preceded by the Magi offering gifts to Jesus, and 26 Martyrs approaching Jesus. Impossible to take photos of....

Best of all the Magi prancing forward in their fabulous leggings...

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy