February 16, 1995 |
The Merchant of Venice that Barry Edelstein has set on the stage of the Joseph Papp Public Theatre is one despairing view of human relations. The quarrels of the Montagues and Capulets are childish tantrums when set against the mutual hatred of Jews and Christians in this production, which betrays scarcely a hint of human feeling. You will search in vain here for more than a shred of decency in Ron Leibman's Shylock, Laila Robins' Portia, or any of the smarmy Christian men- about-the-canals who despise the Jewish moneylender and are despised by him in turn.
November 21, 1986 |
In Luchino Visconti's Death in Venice (1971), a famous composer, Gustav von Aschenbach (based on Gustav Mahler, said to have inspired the Thomas Mann novella on which the movie is based), goes to Venice late in the season. An amethyst cloud of fog shrouds the city of canals, yet the grieving musician (who recently has buried his wife and children) sees a vision of ideal beauty. A young Polish lad named Tadzio haunts the composer, movingly played by Dirk Bogarde, who is aroused aesthetically and sexually out of his grief.
July 19, 1994 |
When it comes to poetic brilliance, psychological depth, internal consistency and other such niceties, The Merchant of Venice may never crash the front rank of the Shakespearean canon. When it comes to telling a ripping good story, however, this early play about justice, mercy, privilege and prejudice can stand with the best of them - and Russell Treyz isn't about to let us forget it. Treyz has directed the Merchant that runs through July 30 at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival here at Allentown College, and a first-rate Merchant it is. Deftly shuttling back and forth among the narrative's several intercut strains, Treyz achieves both a bracing pace and a gathering tension - a tension all the more effective for seldom raising its voice.
February 2, 1992 |
If you're feeling fancy free Come wander through the world with me And any place we chance to be . . . - "Two for the Road" We had sat down at the Gran Caffe Chioggia, in the Piazzetta San Marco, with little more in mind than an after-dinner cup of coffee. But when we learned that the trio solicited requests, I asked if they could play "Two for the Road," an all-but-forgotten Henry Mancini song with those sweet, unpretentious lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. In moments the piano player was gently fingering the melody, and the bassist began to back him, tentatively.
June 15, 1986 |
The sky was a drizzle-threatening gray as my train crossed the long causeway that connects the Italian mainland to Venice. It's an ingress that often has been compared to the back-door entrance of a palace, but that morning it struck me as being more like a three-mile intravenous tube that the modern world was using to pump its rich diet of tourism into the fossilized body of the city. The weather wasn't a very cheery omen, particularly for someone as groggy and full of expectations as I. Venice can be resplendent in the sunshine, heart-breakingly melancholy in the fog, wild and romantic in a thunderstorm; but under a leaden sky of late fall, she takes on an expression that is at once pinched and sullen.
April 19, 1992 |
With an illustrious history that extends more than 1,200 years, Venice certainly lacks the ersatz quality of DisneyWorld, and with the stench of decay that pervades the canals, it is hardly a sparkling paragon. But before the opening of Euro Disney in France this month, Venice was the closest thing Europe had to America's giant amusement park - an unreal city-museum kept alive almost exclusively by tourism. THE BASICS. Once Europe's most powerful city-state, because of its north Adriatic location and mercantile expertise, Venice consists of about 120 little islands, surrounded by more than 175 canals and connected by 400 bridges, some of them architectural masterpieces.
April 13, 1987 |
No longtime Venetian can forget the events of Nov. 4, 1966, when wind and water from the Adriatic Sea came crashing into this most improbable of cities and created the worst flood in living memory. The water on the ground floor of Gianni Zanon's house came up to the top of his legs. He had no electricity; power lines were too wet to carry electricity. Merchandise in the shops was soaked. The canals were so swollen that it was impossible to get to work - besides, his office was flooded.
March 26, 1989 |
"Is there anyone but must repress a secret thrill, on arriving in Venice for the first time . . . and stepping into a Venetian gondola? That singular conveyance, come down unchanged from ballad times, black as nothing else on earth except a coffin - what pictures it calls up of lawless, silent adventures . . . what visions of death itself, the bier and solemn rites and last soundless voyage. " - Thomas Mann, "Death in Venice" In a scruffy shed where two tiny canals intersect, master craftsman Romeo Crivellaro carefully chiseled a winged lion on the prow of a wooden boat with sinuous, asymmetrical curves - unmistakably, a gondola.
May 28, 1999 |
The Italian painter Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto, is famous for his panoramic and highly detailed views of Venice, where he was born in 1697. It's not generally known that he also etched a suite of 30 views of Venice, nearby Padua and their environs - the only prints he is known to have made during his career. The Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania has put on view a nearly complete set of Canaletto's etchings lent by the Arthur Ross Foundation. All but two of the 30 original prints and a fragment of a third (from a plate that was cut apart)
March 7, 1999 |
What would you pay for a room with a view overlooking a canal? I paid more than I thought, and I'm talking more than cash. Since the city is built on islands, and since all of the space was gobbled up when the doges were the top dogs, the supply/demand equation drives room rates skyward. A less-than-glamorous three-star hotel charges 300,000 lire ($187) a night, and ours was, let's say, less than grand. I found and booked it by magic, through the Internet (which I don't understand)