Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bologna: A cultural crossroads

What do Charlie Chaplin, Vermeer and Mozart have in common?


Guidebooks and newpaper travel sections gush about Bologna's food, its architecture, university and arcades. There is more.

The Cineteca di Bologna is an arts cinema, restoration institute and multimedia resource. Now it has released an unpublished novella by Charles Chaplin that inspired his 1952 film, "Limelight".

The Cineteca was authorized by the Chaplin family to digitize the work, which was reconstructed by the actor/director's biographer David Robertson and Cineteca researchers. The release of "Limelight" the novella kicks off the Chaplin centennial commemorating 100 years since he first appeared on film.

In a recent article, the New York Times called the Cineteca's restoration unit, L'Immagine Ritrovata, "one of the world's best restoration centers." The Chaplin family has entrusted the Cineteca with the restoration of Chaplin's more than 70 films.

Bolognesi including SAIS students can take advantage of the Cineteca's plentiful and varied diet of films, ranging from silent movies to recent offerings, both blockbusters and out-of-the-mainstream.

The British newspaper The Independent ran an article earlier this month on how one might spend 48 hours visiting Bologna. "The medieval arcades of this northern Italian city make it a good bet in the winter -- and a blockbuster exhibition bolsters the appeal," the newspaper said.

The broadsheet was referring to the exhibition, "The Myth of the Golden Age: From Vermeer to Rembrandt" which will run in Bologna until May 25 and which includes Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring".

Other recommendations by The Independent included a visit to a medieval shopping mall, a "harrowing terracotta Deposition tableau" in the Santa Maria della Vita church, scultptures by Michelangelo on San Domenico's tomb in the church with the saint's name and the Medieval Museum with its "jaunty sarcophagi of university lecturers".

Finally, El Pais recommended Bologna for music lovers, saying it "breathes music". As Bologna Center graduate Eugene Karl Montoya Alessandri wrote last year in two posts, the music scene in Bologna is varied and dynamic. That was the case when 14-year-old Mozart studied at the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna in 1770 -- 104 years after the founding of the institution.

Last month famous Italian orchestra conductor Claudio Abbado passed away in his home in Bologna. In addition to serving as music director at the Orchestra Mozart in Bologna, Abbado had worked at La Scala in Milan, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera and the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra.

Nelson Graves

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