New York University Florence announces the 13th edition of The Season at Villa La Pietra (Via Bolognese 120, Florence), a summer celebration of creative collaborations conducted throughout the grounds of the 15th century villa and its extraordinary and scenographic gardens from May 31 through August 4, 2017. World-renowned actors, writers, musicians and artists will gather to work collaboratively across disciplines to present a range of professional performances including classical compositions and concerts, theatre performances, the reading of new works and a visual arts exhibition.
As part of the worldwide celebrations of Monteverdi’s 450th birthday, The Season presented Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, May 31, excerpts from the opera, performed by the acclaimed Italian ensemble La Venexiana. English actor Richard Emerson brought portions of Homer’s original text to life from a script adaptation by American theatre director Erica Gould. A collaboration with Salon/Sanctuary Concerts.
Internationally celebrated fiction writers and poets read from their works during the Writers Reading with Mark Bibbins, Maaza Mengiste, Alexander Chee and Catherine Barnett on June 6 – 6:00 pm.
The Season continues on June 7 (7:00PM) with La Scolta and Le Passioni dell’Anima, two works by composer Roberto Scarcella Perino: “La Scolta”, a world premiere concert by the women’s choir Solensemble, soloist contralto Marcella Ventura, and pianist Iolanda Franzoso based on the text by Gian Maria Annovi, and “Le passioni dell’anima” from a libretto by Federica Anichini. The evening will be introduced by a reading by poet Gian Maria Annovi. The Writers’ Season/La Stagione degli Scrittori, dialogues and readings with poets Guido Mazzoni, Mark Bibbins, Vivian Lamarque and Catherine Barnett and fiction writers Alexander Chee, Igiaba Scego, Maaza Mengiste and Gianluigi Ricuperati, are scheduled for June 8 and 9 (6:00 pm). Dialogues, translated in Italian and in English will be moderated by Raoul Bruni and Diego Bertelli. On June 19 (6:00 pm) Villa La Pietra will host The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi, a reading and performance by poet Eugene Ostashevsky.
In their eleventh year of participation in The Season, the Continuum Company of New York presents The Odyssey – Everyone’s Seeking Something, June 12 (9:00 pm) a new theatrical adaptation of Homer’s epic poem, directed by Jim Calder. To mark the 30th anniversary of Primo Levi’s death, on June 16 (9:00 pm) Jacob Olesen performs Primo, a stage reading of If This Is A Man, Primo Levi’s powerful account of survival at Auschwitz (in Italian with English subtitles.).
The festival’s theatrical theme continues on June 22 (7:30 pm) with Sogno Rapporto di Colore, a journey of dreams in illuminated colors, a site-specific performance of art, dance, drama, music, and meditation. Created in collaboration with visual artist Peter Terezakis, choreographer Allyson Green, Dean of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, actor John Gutierrez, choreographer Indah Walsh, British composer Alan Stones.
On June 25 (9:00 pm) the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Commedia dell’Arte students present The Imaginary Invalid, a crazy ride into the characters and plot twists of one of Europe’s most beloved playwrights, Molière. The Limonaia at Villa La Pietra will be the stage for The Merchant of Venice, June29 (9:00 pm), with four actors playing over fifteen characters in this scrappy production of Shakespeare’s dark comedy. Originally staged in a Chelsea textile warehouse, this production of The Merchant of Venice confronts how “just” justice can be in a world rank with prejudice. NYU Tisch School of the Arts Commedia dell’Arte students will perform Medusa, June 30 (1:00 pm – Courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi), a musical procession retelling the story of Medusa with a modern feminist twist.
Besides literature and theater, The Season will present Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, on June 20 – 6:00 pm, world Première – a PBS biographical film from the acclaimed American Masters series, to be broadcast in the winter of 2017, directed by Sam Pollard and written by Laurence Maslon. It is the first documentary to examine the personal and artistic identity of this extraordinary entertainer in the context of social and racial evolution of the 20th Century. Followed by a conversation with Laurence Maslon.
New to the offerings of The Season is Regarding Women in the Acton Collection, an exhibition of the work of international artists Zoe Buckman, Alessandra Capodacqua, Patricia Cronin, Bärbel Reinhard, and Deb Willis, who will discuss their work at the exhibition opening on June 26 (6:30 pm), followed by a performance by Karen E. Finley, New York-based performance artist.
Karen Finley makes her Villa La Pietra debut with this performance of The Genital Election. Finley will present excerpts from her recent performance Unicorn Gratitude Mystery that examines pathological power, projection and gender in the US presidential election. In one excerpt Finley will perform as Donald Trump, embodying blonde feminine desire and degradation while unleashing psychosexual motivations for his presidential run against Hillary Clinton. Karen Finley is an award-winning artist of varying mediums, from her installations, music, painting, and writing to her most notable work as a performance artist. Her career brought her all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1998 in a landmark case, National Endowment of the Arts v. Finley. Finley is known as one of the NEA 4, a group of artists defunded by the National Endowment of the Arts in the United States for their frank depiction of controversial and taboo issues in their work. Since the 1970s, she has pioneered in her field, recalled by many as “the chocolate smeared woman.” Her visceral work depicts issues surrounding sexuality, gender, violence, and celebrity. She is a Guggenheim fellow and recipient of the New York State Council on the Arts fellowship and the prestigious Richard J Massey Foundation Arts and Humanities Award. Her work has been featured internationally at the most esteemed venues (The Bobino in Paris, The ICA in London, Lincoln Center in New York). Her performance follows the inauguration of the exhibition Regarding Women in the Acton Collection. Using the Acton Collection as both a productive and discursive site, this exhibition examines the depiction of women with a transhistorical perspective, adding into the Villa’s collection contemporary responses by artists and poets in an effort to investigate, challenge and expand upon received art historical categories of iconography, patronage, material and function. Regarding Women in the Acton Collection is inaugurated as part of The Season, curated and produced by Ellyn Toscano. The Season was founded in 2004 by Toscano, the Villa’s director, from her vision to set contemporary work in conversation with the Villa’s expansive grounds and eclectic art collection. Since 2004, the Season has produced collaboration and exploration between international artists of varying mediums. In context with the exhibition curated by Toscano, Finley’s performance is sure to be a riveting event that is not to be missed.
On June 28 (8:30 pm) Imani Uzuri will present her experimental visual, performative, and sonic installation entitled Come On In The Prayer Room, inspired by visual artist, street evangelist, mystic and musician Sister Gertrude Morgan’s (April 7, 1900-July 8, 1980) “all white” Prayer Room. In this work, Uzuri explores the intersection of spirituality, ritual, spectacle, and sound.
The Season will conclude on August 4 (9:00 pm) with The Sir Harold Acton Anniversary Concert, a classical concert by world renowned musicians. (Program to be announced.)
Villa La Pietra – Via Bolognese, 120 – 50139 Firenze http://www.nyu.edu/global/lapietra/season/
NYU Shanghai honored its first graduates at the university’s inaugural Commencement on May 28. The 264 graduates, who hail from China, the United States and 31 other countries were awarded their NYU bachelor’s degrees as well as their NYU Shanghai diplomas in a ceremony at the Oriental Arts Center in front of professors, friends, and families who travelled from around the world to celebrate the historic event. For more information about the weekend’s festivities, see here.