Written by Assaggini Friday, 16 September 2011 11:05
Posted in: Blog
Italian culture is drenched in the rousing, heart-rending thespian performance that is opera. The Italian accent is famous for a vast range of dialect and this has transpired to create some of the world’s most famous tenors and composers in the history of opera. Think Pavarotti and Farinelli, Italy is renowned for being music’s pulsating core.
Giacomo Puccini, the Italian composer of Nessun Dorma, is having his memory revived throughout September at London’s Royal Opera House. The Royal Opera House is Britain’s famous operatic venue and has been the venue for some of the most tone-worthy oratorios and operas. Puccini’s phenomenal musical prowess is no stranger to the ceilings of London’s Opera House and a fragmented version of his Il trittico was performed in 1920.
Il trittico isn’t just any old opera, famous tenors believe they are destined to perform Puccini’s masterpiece. This is a story, a concept, a fabrication so great that Puccini splintered the performance into three sections – Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi- if there is an opera to rouse the musical senses, this is it. Each act, or each opera, is performed in a completely different setting and environment. Il tabarro is set in pre-war Paris upon a barge on the quixotic Seine. Contaminated with violence, gloom and darkness, audiences witness the potential of love’s aptitude for ruinous consequences, and the protagonist’s soul visibly decays throughout the production. This opening act to Il trittico is as shocking as jamming one’s finger tips into electrical sockets.
The second act, Suor Angelica, is set in a convent in Siena in the late 17th century. The plot sketches two sisters who must share each others trials and celestial hardships -death, tragedy and human’s shocking capacity for manipulation haunt the tragic sequence of events. This act was Puccini’s favourite, and you can tell. Puccini’s heart and soul is shackled to the music and the story-line has patent connotations to that of Dante’s inferno.
The finale, Gianni Schicchi, is set in beautiful medieval Florence. This is the most popular and held in the highest of operatic esteems. Greedy relatives of a deceased, wealthy man attempt to make ill-gains from his death and their conniving antics ensure to leave even the hardest of audiences completely spellbound.
Assaggini strongly recommends you attend this exquisitely crafted thespianage. British director Richard Jones constructs an illustrious Italian performance in the heart of London, whilst in-house Music Director Antonio Pappano’s conducting personifies beauty to the ears. Performances are priced between £9 - £195, and the production runs until 27th September. For tickets visit the Royal Opera House’s website at http://www.roh.org.uk/
Written by Assaggini Tuesday, 30 August 2011 09:07
Posted in: Blog
It goes without saying that Italian league football is not the powerhouse that it once used to be. Gone are the days of Italian clubs dominating Europe, smashing world record transfer fees and attracting the best players from across the world. These days, Italian league football is forced to play a supporting role to the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga. And as the new season starts, there are a few questions yet to be answered and some lines of thought to be explored.
Consider the Italian national team’s dismal performance in South Africa in 2010, the shortage of the crème de la crème of world talent in Serie A and the absence of a new Maldini, Nesta, Buffon, Del Piero in Italian Football and it will not be difficult to see why alarms have been raised in some quarters.
The success of old powerhouses like AC Milan and Inter has given room for some hope but it’s the fate of other teams that has left many fans of Italian football scratching their heads. With Palermo crashing out of the Europa League at the first qualifying stage to FC Thun of Switzerland, talks of another disappointing season in Europe is fast gathering pace.
Add to that the element of the players’ strike that has delayed the start of the new season has also left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Italian football fans. After a long summer devoid of any football, the last thing any football fan wants is for the players to be holding back the action because of some dispute over players’ rights.
Despite an Italian team, Internazionale, winning the Champions League in the 2010/2011 season, many fans are still worried about the state of play in Italy - Especially with none of Inter’s Champions League winning side being Italian. Add that to the fact that the more Italian players than ever before are plying their trade overseas and even more are being linked to moves away from Italy.
We can’t help but wonder if this is a temporary blip in the form of one of European football’s most prestigious leagues or the end of a dynasty. Will Italian football succumb to foreign ownership like the Premier League or will a revolution start from within? One thing we know for sure is that Italian football is always full of surprises. And for this simple reason, this season might well see the revelation of the new Maldini, Buffon, Nesta or Del Piero. I refuse to believe the gods of Italian football are sitting down with their hands folded, doing nothing. Come the end of the season, I am sure we will be back here talking about how interesting this season’s Serie A has been and all that happened. It is sure to be a very interesting one. That much I can guarantee you.
Hold on to your hats!
Written by Assaggini Wednesday, 17 August 2011 10:31
Posted in: Blog
A Literary Feast!
Italians resident in London or indeed anyone with an interest in Italian literature, history and culture are well-catered for at The London Library – the world’s largest independent lending Library, in the heart of the capital.
As part of the Library’s extensive foreign language collections – which include works in over 50 languages - the remarkable Italian Collections (approximately 25,000 items!) cover a great variety of subject areas, with particular strengths in Fine Arts, Literature and History.
The Italian Collections have grown steadily over time. They include books in Italian, printed in Italy or about Italy, reflecting the interest of the British public for Italy, its culture and its civilization.
Those wishing to research ‘food in Italy’ will find many treasures in the Science & Miscellaneous: Food collections - such as La cucina nella storia di Napoli by Egano Lambertini, or Elizabeth David’s classic, Italian Food.
The Library also maintains active subscriptions to over 750 periodicals, including many Italian interest publications, from Archivio Storico Italiano to Renaissance Studies.
Members of the Library can borrow books and take them home to read at their leisure, or use the Library’s beautiful Reading Rooms to work and study.
Everyone is welcome to join The London Library and with the opportunity to spread your annual subscription across monthly payments, half-price subscriptions for young people and spouse discounts, a London Library membership offers affordable sustenance for the mind and soul.
For further information about the Italian Collections and The London Library, visit www.londonlibrary.co.uk
Written by Assaggini Friday, 12 August 2011 10:49
Posted in: Blog
The final date for the London Street Photography festival 2011 is fast approaching, if you haven’t already been to the festival – now’s your chance! We, at Assaggini love London Street Photography, so we will definitly be checking this out!
Your last chance to get in on some of the action is the 24th August and the German Gymnasium, 26 Pancras Road, London, NW1 2TB
Click here to see a map
The event starts at 6.30 pm – 10 pm; tickets are priced at £20 each.
The evening will be a chance to purchase exhibition prints and celebrate the festival with partners, contributors, and artists. There will be entertainment on the night, food and of course vodka cocktails provided by premium brand Ketel One Vodka.
Your ticket also includes entry into a special festival raffle with great prizes to be won.
All proceeds will go towards ensuring the festival will be here in 2012.
Click here to look at all the aution prizes that will be on offer
Have a cheeky peek at some of the photographs that will be featured at the festival:
The incredible Walter Joseph
DPS from Jesse Marlow's book "Wounded"
Written by Assaggini Wednesday, 10 August 2011 10:22
Posted in: Blog
Assaggini’s Guide to Italian Seaside Destinations
Here is Assaggini's guide to some of Italy's hottest seaside holiday destinations!
If its picturesque coastlines your after then why not have a look at visiting one of these destinations, whose principal appeal is their beautiful scenery. They are generally former fishing villages which have been geared for tourism without losing their charm. There is usually some access to the sea, but beaches may be small or rocky.
> Cinque Terre - less developed and a marine reserve, the Cinque Terre are five steep villages joined by footpaths
> Monte Argentario - a mountainous Tuscan promontory with attractive fishing village resorts
> Portofino - tiny harbour nestled into a rocky headland; an exclusive destination
> Porto Venere - yet another fishing village which now caters for holidaymakers, in Liguria
> Sorrento - a popular seaside destination although it lacks a sandy beach
> Taormina, Sicily - high above the sea, but with beaches nearby
> Camogli, Liguria - authentic fishing village with a couple of boutique hotel
There are lots of small islands off the coast of Italy which offer relaxing seaside holidays and lots of blue sea.
> Capri - beautiful and expensive island destination close to the Amalfi Coast
> Ponza - little island between Rome and Naples, the largest of the Pontine islands
For the beach
These places are primarily seaside resorts, sometimes with a bit of culture thrown in!
> Rimini - Italy's most famous beach resort, with a surprisingly interesting old town a little way inland
> Venice Lido - uninspiring but extensive stretches of beach
> Sperlonga and Terracina - attractive resorts south of Rome
> Santa Margherita Ligure - old-fashioned resort near Portofino in Liguria
> Lido di Jesolo - purpose-built beach resort near Venice
> Chioggia and Sottomarina, Veneto - Chioggia is a fishing town in the Venetian lagoon; its seaside suburb Sottomarina is a busy beach destination
> Sanremo - a pretty and popular resort on the Italian Riviera
> Cefalù, Sicily - an attractive resort with lots of history
> Grado - in the north-east of Italy, Grado sits between a lagoon and the head of the Adriatic. It has a historic centre and is near the Roman ruins of Aquileia.
> Pesaro - pleasant Adriatic coastal resort with beaches and a historic centre, and only a bus ride from the cultural destination Urbino
Ports and coastal towns
These busy ports and larger towns on the Italian coast are not ideal locations for a seaside holiday, but they do make bases from which you can take boat trips and explore the nearby coastline. Most have beaches in the town or not far away, although they may not be the cleanest.
> La Spezia - a naval town close to Porto Venere and the Cinque Terre
> Naples - a hectic city, but with ferries around the Bay of Naples
> Trieste - port up in the north of the Adriatic, near Italy's border with Slovenia.
> Siracusa, Sicily - an ancient town most visited for its architecture and archaeology
> Trapani, Sicily - a port with ferries to outlying islands
> Anzio - a fishing and ferry port near Rome
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