Maria Pia Pagani

Maria Pia Pagani
regional managing editor - Italy

Maria Pia Pagani is Adjunct Professor of Theatrical Literature, Art of Directing and Theatre Discipline at University of Pavia (Italy).  Degree cum laude in Foreign Languages and Literature, PhD in Modern Philology.  She is a member of Pen Club, and  the Italian translator of the doctor-writer and playwright Mikhail Berman-Tsikinovsky.

“The Delightful Journey Of Mr. Goldoni”: A National Premiere In Pavia

Since 2007, the year of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carlo Goldoni (1707–1793), Ghislieri College–one of the oldest and most prestigious university colleges in Italy–has celebrated this famous pupil with “Goldoni Day.” The great Venetian playwright discovered his theatrical vocation while he was a student in Pavia, from 1723 to 1725, and his emblematic description of that period is found in his Memoirs. This is not only an autobiography: we can consider it one of the most important works of the eighteenth century, with a particular fortune on the stage due to its several adaptations for theatre....

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Giudizio Universale. Michelangelo And The Secrets Of The Sistine Chapel

Over the course of time, the great aesthetic impact of the Sistine Chapel has been testified to with many episodes of admiration; Michelangelo’s masterpiece can also be considered a source of inspiration for new artistic products, offering something worthy of meditation for future generations. Just one example: in the 1910s, the actress Eleonora Duse wanted to realize a silent movie about this very special place in Rome; it was an avant-garde project with high technical complexity but conceived as a good opportunity to improve the cultural level of the audience. Unfortunately, it remained only a dream, but its novelty...

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Verdi’s “A Masked Ball” – A Debut For The Galati Theatre Festival

Year after year, the Galati Theatre Festival commands a prestigious position for opera theatre in Romania. It has a good reputation in Italy also, thanks to the work of Paolo Bosisio–an important professor of theatre history (in the late 1980s he founded the chair in this discipline at the University of Milan) and an opera director–and one of the most requested artists in Eastern Europe. On October 24, 2016, he received an honorary degree in Arts at the University “Dunarea de Jos” in Galati: this Romanian town has become a sort of “theatrical home” for him, and the sincere...

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Francesco De Sanctis: From the Electoral Travel to the Stage

Francesco De Sanctis (1817–83) is one of the most important Italian literary critics and scholars, and his lectures were particularly appreciated in Naples, Turin, and Zurich. He is considered the founder of modern literary criticism, and his masterpiece is Storia della Letteratura Italiana (History of Italian Literature). He wrote some historical dramas, and many significant works about the main authors of Italian theatre (for example, Machiavelli, Tasso, Alfieri, Gozzi, Goldoni). He was also minister of public instruction and deputy in the Italian chamber: his many writings are characterized by a deep civic and moral strength, underlining the importance of...

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“Parlaggio”: The Open-air Theatre on Garda Lake

Each theatre has its own history, made by performances and audiences. It reveals the work of the artists and organizers and the vital emotions of the people involved. Each theatre also transmits to new generations a particular cultural heritage – opening new horizons of knowledge and creating new synergies in a cross-cultural dialogue. On 2 July the summer festival Tener-a-mente, featuring music, theatre, and dance, officially opened at the Vittoriale, the beautiful residence of the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863–1938), in Gardone Riviera. It takes place in an open-air theatre, the so-called Parlaggio, one of the most fascinating locations for...

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Man / Woman / Monster: Franco Branciaroli Re-creates “Medea”

Twenty years ago, on 13 December 1996, Euripides’ Medea debuted in Bergamo (Teatro Donizetti): for this staging, the great theatre master Luca Ronconi (1933–2015) revitalized the Greek myth with the actor Franco Branciaroli (born in 1947), revealing with true intensity the problems and contradictions of the main character. It was not a simple operation of acting en travesti but a complex transaction in which Medea lives – simultaneously – the potent feelings of a man, a woman, a monster. Thanks to Ronconi’s refined direction and Branciaroli’s intense acting, this staging of Medea belongs to history, reaching the highest of...

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“D’Annunzio Segreto”: A Renovating Portrait of a Celebrity

Can a staging improve the knowledge of the life of a celebrity, revealing the most intimate aspects of his soul? With the play D’Annunzio Segreto, written by Angelo Crespi and directed by Francesco Sala, the actor Edoardo Sylos Labini offers an interesting portrait of a man who was the absolute protagonist of Italian history, literature and theatre between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The debut took place in Rome, at the Teatro Quirino, on 11 October 2016. During the 2016/17 season, the play has conquered audiences in many Italian towns and has also offered a special staging for students....

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Alessandra Ferri and the Ballet “Duse” by John Neumeier

Today, can the myth of a prima donna live in a prima ballerina? The choreographer and director John Neumeier created for the star Alessandra Ferri a dance performance based on the life of the great Italian actress Eleonora Duse: it is a very interesting artistic product, in which the emotional dimension is mainly expressed with the body. It debuted in Hamburg, Staatsoper, on 6 December 2015. Since the 2015/16 season, Duse has conquered audiences in many towns of Europe; the most recent performances were in April 2017—all in Hamburg. Ferri’s performance begins with a screening of Cenere (Ashes), Duse’s...

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“Goldoni Day” in Pavia

Carlo Goldoni (1707–93), the greatest Italian playwright of the eighteenth century, discovered his theatrical vocation in Pavia, while he was a student at the Ghislieri College. Founded in 1567 by Pope Pius V, the Ghislieri is one of the oldest and most prestigious university colleges in Italy. During that period, it was only a male college (the female section was opened in 1966), and most of the students came from Piedmont and Lombardy; Goldoni was the first student from Venice. According to his parents’ desire, the young Carlo attended the Faculty of Law. But, in his Memoirs, he admitted...

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“The Battle of the Oranges” for the Historical Carnival of Ivrea

Each year the town of Ivrea, in Piedmont, hosts a traditional celebration of Carnival with many historical implications. The official denomination “Historical Carnival of Ivrea” is due to the celebration’s evocation of events that occurred during the Medieval and Napoleonic periods, and also during the Italian Risorgimento, to underline the popular rebellion against tyranny and the triumph of freedom. The great procession in the main streets of Ivrea presents a wide range of characters, connected to the civic life of the town over the centuries: the podestà (usually a chief magistrate or local administrator), the chancellor, the general, the...

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The Gigantic Float Parades for the Carnival of Viareggio

The Tuscan town of Viareggio, one of the most renowned tourist destinations in Italy, has a lively tradition for the celebration of Carnival. Officially, it began in the 1870s as a funny form of protest against the excessive taxes on the population. Political and social satire are the leading themes of the many editions of this event, whose best expressions are the gigantic float parades. The procession takes place on the boulevards of the promenade along the sea, offering spectators an opportunity to admire the Versilia’s beautiful maritime landscape. This spectacular attraction serves as a collective rite for millions of...

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“The Flight of the Angel”: The Ritual Opening of the Carnival of Venice

The town of Venice hosts one of the oldest traditions for the celebration of Carnival in Italy. Some interesting descriptions are found in the memoirs of Giacomo Casanova and Carlo Goldoni: in fact, its prestige reached its highest level in the 18th century, when Venice became the “capital” of Carnival in Europe. In its anthropological value, it was an occasion to experience a short period of social freedom, with a temporary suspension of one’s everyday troubles and one’s fear for the future: rich people could parade their grandeur in private feasts and masquerade balls, and poor people could live...

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A Meditation for Holocaust Memorial Day: “Viennese Kaddish”

Born in Kharkov on 12 November 1937, Mikhail Berman-Tsikinovsky is a Russian-speaking émigré who came to the United States from the Soviet Union in 1978. He graduated from Kharkov Medical Institute as a Doctor of Medicine in 1961, and earned a Candidacy of Medical Sciences (Ph.D. in Hematology) in 1970. He works and lives in Chicago, and his condition as a physician-led naturally to his becoming a respected doctor, writer and playwright. His great intellectual curiosity and unlimited erudition are evident in his literary career, with relevant international results: his plays have been staged worldwide, and his books have...

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The Magic Theatre of Emanuele Luzzati: A Documentary Exhibition at the Filatoio Rosso in Caraglio

Ten years ago, on 26 January 2007, Emanuele Luzzati died, in Genua. He was one of Italian theatre’s most important illustrators and designers of theatre sets and costumes. He was a magician of figurative arts: his work was characterized by a special fantastic style, winning the admiration of international audiences. The documentary exhibition Gli incantesimi di Emanuele Luzzati. Fiaba e magia nell’illustrazione e nel costume (The Enchantments of Emanuele Luzzati: Fairy-tale and Magic in Illustration and Costume Design), which runs from 22 October 2016 to 26 February 2017 at the Filatoio Rosso, in Caraglio (curators Dr. Roberta Orsi Landini...

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The Union of Sicilian Puppetry and Contemporary Dance: Virgilio Sieni and Mimmo Cuticchio in Palermo

Virgilio Sieni is one of the most important Italian dancers and choreographers, and Mimmo Cuticchio is one of the most appreciated heirs of Sicilian puppet theatre (Opera dei Pupi). The result of their collaboration is a three-year project for 2016–2018: the first part, Atlante. L’umano del gesto (Atlas. The Human of Gesture), was staged in Palermo, at the Real Teatro di Santa Cecilia, on 22 December 2016. After a theatre workshop on 19–21 December 2016, their performance was aimed at discovering the secrets and the emotions of the body in multiple dimensions. Various types of “actors,” with their physical...

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Rediscovering Puccini: The Original Version of “Madame Butterfly” at Teatro alla Scala in Milan

December 7 is the patronal feast in Milan (St. Ambrose’s Day) and, by tradition, the day on which the Teatro alla Scala opens the new season. For 2016/2017, the inauguration was with the opera Madame Butterfly, by Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924), with Italian libretto by Luigi Illica (1857–1919) and Giuseppe Giacosa (1847–1906). For Puccini, this Japanese tragedy—in two acts—was the result of a cultural strategy to introduce Oriental exoticism into European musical theatre. His expectations were disappointed, and the world premiere, at the Teatro alla Scala, on 17 February 1904, was a disaster. Probably, it was a sort of revenge...

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Remembering Italian Theatre Master Gerardo Guerrieri: A Stage Full of Dreams

Thirty years ago, on 24th April 1986, Gerardo Guerrieri died in Rome. He was one of the most important intellectuals for the Italian theatre in the 20th century, a polyhedric mind who admirably worked as a director, playwright, screenwriter, dramaturg, historian, critic, essayist, translator and producer. With him, Italian theatrical culture made real progress: he translated for the first time many American and Russian texts, helped many Italian artists to conquer an international vision of the staging, and helped—in a process of mutual interaction—many foreign artists to conquer the Italian audience. Born in Matera on 4th February 1920, Guerrieri began...

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Dario Fo: Life Is a (Comical) Mystery

On 13th October 2016, Dario Fo died in Milan at age 90. He was one of the most influential artists in world theatre and conquered this position with courage, hard work and the constant memory of his humble origins. He was an actor, singer, playwright, director, painter, and stage and costume designer. In particular, he was a contemporary heir of the medieval jesters and a lover of commedia dell’arte: from 1969, with his masterpiece Mistero Buffo (Comical Mystery), he demonstrated the vitality of improvisation as a technique for involving the audience. He was a master of monologue, and used...

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The Myth of Eleonora Duse: A Photographic Exhibition in Venice, at the Giorgio Cini Foundation

In November 2011, in Venice, the Giorgio Cini Foundation officially opened a new permanent space created as a sort of “home-museum”: Eleonora Duse’s Room. Here, from 18th March to 18th December 2016, we can admire a photographic exhibition that narrates her myth: From portrait to icon. The charm of an actress in photography (curator Dr. Marianna Zannoni). These precious photos are held in the Duse Archive, in the Foundation’s Study Centre for Documentary Research into European Theatre and Opera (director Prof. Maria Ida Biggi) and are very useful for the knowledge of the artistic and human personality of the...

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Music and Performance at the Vittoriale: Festival “Tener-a-mente” 2016

The great Italian poet Gabriele d’Annunzio spent the last years of his life at the Vittoriale, his monumental residence on the Garda Lake. The structure of the building, with its beautiful gardens, reflects a “scenographic” study followed with great care by the architect Gian Carlo Maroni. The idea of performance is always present: interior and exterior spaces have a precise aesthetic logic, according to d’Annunzio’s desire. In the gardens of the Vittoriale, there is an amphitheatre: it was designed in the 1930s, on the classical model, drawing on the research done by the architect Maroni in Pompeii. With its...

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