Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 14th, 2009 Rome

Wed October 14th—
Lisa B. sang for us before dinner. Her resonant soprano rang out with Monteverdi, then Purcell, then Monteverdi again —amazing. In front of a tapestry from the l6th century that covers the wall behind the grand piano---a soaring powerful diva voice.
Startling on its own and in that room with resonant sound, fabulous.
Followed by a great meal of goat cheese on toast, surrounded by radicchio and walnuts, then individual vegetable soufflés sitting on steamed leeks; followed by granita of pear and grapes —picked from behind the academy!

Its been quite a week —we have shot for two days, introducing Byron to Jane Godwin/Claire Clairmont; introducing our audience to Jane/Claire altogether; Shelley and cohorts playing chess. The weather has been splendid. From portraits by the pomegranate tree (looking like a Cranach painting) to playing badminton in the garden, to dinner at Byron’s replete with grand piano and candlelabra (room courtesy of Don Byron and candles from Mona-the chef). Okay its gothic but gorgeous!

The week began with a call from the lab that there was a color balance problem. Tuesday morning we cancelled a shoot to run over to the lab and lo and behold, the footage looked amazing. The 30 year experienced timer, Aldo, loved it and Ed—our American mediator there—kept saying, is that hand-held? Which it is. Very satisfying to know we can do this and make it look great with almost nothing: no crew, a 30 year old l6mm 100 foot load camera and two lens.
I may change my tune after seeing Campion’s Keats but for now we are very happy.

Sunday we went to Sperlonga—almost on a dare. It had rained the day before and I was afraid it would again-predicted to, but it also said the weather would be 77 and then on Monday and following days— down to 60s. I knew this was the last chance. We woke up lazily at 11am and took a taxi to Termini to take local train 12:49 to Fondi (closest train station) 70 minutes away. Got there and there was no bus to Sperlonga—usually only 10 minutes, so paid for another taxi and got delivered by 2:15pm to the Mediterranean. Water was wonderful, miraculous temp. and we swam twice and lay in the sun and went for a gelato and later wine as we climbed the city which is built into the cliff face. Amazing. The pictures are too so am trying to attach. Ooops it doesn’t work. Will try again. It being off season it was particularly quiet, two islands off the coast, a grotto with Roman statues that you can swim to. We didn’t do this being there only for the day and more interested in swimming and sunning, but it was truly romantic, a honeymoon town, particularly in off season. In the summer I could imagine it a sweet provincetown bustling with tourists---

We are off to the Palatine hill tomorrow on a guided tour and probably shooting a bit Friday morning.
Back from our tour today. IT was wonderful, beginning in the jewish ghetto and its large imposing synagogue guarded with gates and soldiers. In 2000 or bit earlier, someone opened fire on the worshippers as they left and 40 were wounded, one killed.
A summary of papal edicts closing in the Jews beginning in the middle ages, limiting their work to the rag trade—one of the churches dedicated to tailors has a fresco/painting of God fitting Adam with a fur coat! Also limiting their (the jews) lending practices but as far as I know Jews cannot charge usury (?) so perhaps Jews were lending at better rates than Christians? Anyone know for sure what led up to the edicts? An increase in population? Competition on the economic scene? Particular personalities?

Then onto the round temple di Vesta, but actually di Hercules. Beautiful Grecian marble even as repairs are ongoing. What was most amazing about this walk was the foregrounding of a synthetic layered montage that is Rome. It’s not just that history is layered, buildings on top of buildings that are buried 27 feet or less or more underneath, but that there is this mishmash of materials, spoilae=meaning materials stolen from one building and used in another (from spoils of war). Up in the air on a cross arch among the tufa and brick are two two-feet marble columns laid sideways—perhaps medieval repairs? Or rebuilding from fallen/broken materials? A church in which there is an 8’x8’ cut out for another roman temple 1000 years older on the portico. A wall of the church of Nicolas Encarcere (or is it Giorgio Encarcere? =bound) with Roman columns filled in to form the church wall.

Rome is a pastiche. Indeed what we think of as classical is a layered dense historical semiotic mass. No wonder it is an architect (Robert Venturi) who coins the term “post-modern’. Indeed the classical is post modern in spirit and structure, and not that sere white quiet. More is more.

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