So seldom, in my lifetime, have I come across my first name, that when I do, I take note. I was very surprised to see this theatre in Paris. I want to attend a program there!
LE LAURETTE THEATRE – PARIS36, Rue Bichat, 75010 PARIS
I found this on the internet:
AU LAURETTE THÉÂTRE ACCÈS
Notre envie de partager avec les artistes, compagnies, producteurs et toutes professions qui subliment autour du spectacle, est née d’une rencontre exceptionnelle.
Laurette est généreuse, attentive et amoureuse des autres.
C’est tout ce qu’elle nous a communiqué qui fait de cette salle de spectacle, un lieu charmant, intimiste et chaleureux.
C’est dans chacun de vos pas (spectateurs, comédiens, chanteurs, auteurs…) que l’on retrouve Laurette, notre Laurette,
et dans chacun de vos applaudissements que l’on retrouve son sourire.
Merci à tous ceux qui nous aide à exister chaque jour.
En hommage à Laurette, notre amie passionnée de théâtre, cinéma et elle-même actrice…
AT THE LAURETTE THEATER
Our desire to share with artists, companies, producers and all professions that sublimate around the show, was born from an exceptional meeting.
Laurette is generous, attentive and in love with others.
It’s all that she communicated to us that makes this performance hall a charming, intimate and warm place.
It is in each of your steps (spectators, actors, singers, authors …) that we find Laurette, our Laurette,
and in each of your applause that we find his smile.
Thank you to everyone who helps us exist every day.
In tribute to Laurette, our passionate friend of theater, cinema and herself an actr
The French start training early for the enjoyment of the outdoor cafe life:
Many of the city’s grocery stores currently have these enticing cases of Little Moons Japanese mochi at the front. I never did try any. It is January, after all. Plus, my hands are almost always full. But, I am intrigued, see below the pix:
From the Little Moon website: https://www.littlemoons.co.uk
Brother and sister, Howard & Vivien Wong, launched Little Moons in 2010 on a mission to bring Japanese mochi with a delicious, modern twist to the masses.
Having grown up eating traditional mochi in their parent’s bakery they knew the potential these little balls had to deliver a moment of total happiness to whoever ate them.
It took them two years to master the mochi making process and perfect the ice cream recipes, working with top chefs and using quality ingredients to create the perfect flavour combinations.
With a Little Moons now eaten every second we felt the time was right to introduce our next bite sized adventure and so in 2019 we launched our Cookie Dough Ice Cream Bites.
Big Flavours, Little Moons.
What is mochi?
Mochi is a rice flour dough that has been steamed and pounded to give it its distinctive soft and chewy texture. We wrap a thin layer of mochi around our ice cream balls to make our Little Moons mochis.
It is so unique that in Asia the distinctive glutinous texture of mochi has its own name and is known as the Q texture.
Ok, back to Paris!
I swoon over the architecture:
The famous Folies Bergère. Art Deco all the way home.
Even the animals were dressed for winter:
You cannot help loving these Metro entrance markers by Hector Guimard, even if most of the (darn) stations were closed during my visit (for the longest strike in French history):
A shop dedicated to cat designs?
The classic French Galette Des Rois is for sale in almost every pâtisserie.
I love the aged patina on this gorgeous door below.
I never made it into the Louvre on this trip (a long story, told here), even though I had tickets for a special exhibition, but I did get to see the Louvre’s ultra modern subway station on the automated Metro Line #1:
Much more to come, probably for another month!
The riches of Florence continue to amaze me. Every week brings a new discovery. Some things are hidden, others are hiding in plain sight.
The Teatro della Pergola is one of the obvious places one intrinsically knows will be a delight. One only needs the time to explore.
For me, that time arrived in mid November. I was fortunate to have a guided tour of the theater with one of the key people in the organization, Claudia. It was easy to set up as 1, 2, 3. You email Claudia at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check this website: https://www.destinationflorence.com/it/dettagli/5522-pergola-gran-tour. Soon you will be time traveling in a beautiful space ship: a 17th century Baroque theater in the heart of Florence. The street is Via della Pergola, a 5 minute walk from the Duomo.
For those who can’t get to Florence to view this fantastic place, thank your lucky stars that we are living in the 21st century! You can take a virtual tour of the theater on Google’s Art and Culture platform.
The Teatro della Pergola in Florence was the first theater in Italy, and the third overall after the Opéra in Paris and the National Theater in London, to be virtually hosted on the Google Cultural platform,making the vast European artistic heritage virtually accessible for aall the world to enjoy.
So, first things first:
Where did the name of the theater come from? Pergola means trellis, or a structure on which climbing or trailing plants can grow. The front of the theater is covered with ivy, which trails down over the small projecting metal and glass canopy over the entrance and lends a pastoral feel to the theater. Claudia told me that when the original building was constructed here, there was already a small vineyard planted, which undoubtedly had some sort of pergola. The name stuck.
A self-formed group of Florentines, calling themselves the Accademia degli Immobili, were dedicated to the cultivation of the arts in their city. While there was already a theater in Florence (the Teatro del Cocomero, later replaced and renamed by the still extant Teatro Niccolini), it was too small for the Accademia’s needs.
They commissioned Ferdinando Tacca (son of Pietro Tacca, who designed the two fountains in Piazza SS. Annunziata), to build them a theater. It was probably inspired by the courtyards of Renaissance palaces. One possible model is the Cortile Ammannati at Palazzo Pitti. The functionality of these courtyards was in part that they allowed spectators (noble and aristocratic of course) to view all kinds of shows in the square or rectangular spaces within the palazzi. They could watch games, mock battles and all manner of entertainment, without mixing with the entertainers, one imagines.
The theater commission proved to be notable opportunity for the architect, Tacca. What he designed for the Accademicians was no less than the first “Italian theater,” whose design, with its incredible acoustics, served as the basis for later theaters built throughout Europe and the world.
Tacca took the basic horseshoe design which the Greeks and Romans had already established as the ideal shape for watching theatrical performances. He constructed the floor of the theater in a spoon shape, with rises at the back of the orchestra and the stage.
One of the most notable aspects of Tacca’s design were the boxes that surround the outline of the theater on 3 levels, with a gallery on the 4th level. This was the birth of this particular feature of classic Italian theater design. For the first time, small separate spaces allowed each noble family to admire the show, and to be admired by the fellow theater-goers, from a privileged position.
The boxes are worthy of their own post. Claudia told me that all manner of things happened in these separate spaces, whose doors could be locked from the inside and whose heavy draperies at the front of the box could be drawn closed. Florentines were proverbially argumentative and territorial, and it was hoped that by assigning a box to each family, the continual feuds could be managed. Unfortunately, along with the food, wine, sexual exploits that took place in the boxes, we know that even murders were perpetrated.
The coats-of-arms of the various noble families announced the ownership of each box. When the theater was renovated in subsequent centuries, the shields were taken down; the extant ones hang in the lobby of the theater.
There are 25 boxes on each level and, currently, there are only two restricted boxes: the number 1 of the first level, which remained reserved for the last heirs of the founding members of the Accademia, and the box on the opposite side. This box is the 25th on the first level, and is reserved for the theater director. You can see it in the photo below: It is the first box on the first level, just to the right of the stage. It has pink marble facing it, unlike the other boxes which have white stucco facing.
The photo below was taken from the stage. You can see the Royal Box in the center taking up the 2nd and 3rd level spaces in the center. The size of this theater is small and intimate. I can see how it would be ideal for theatrical or musical performances and I am eager to experience them soon.
Together with the large stage, and the boxes and gallery, another distinctive feature of the Pergola are the incredible acoustics. Tacca created a perfect space for hosting theater and music; the voices of the great actors are enhanced, thanks to the horseshoe outline.
One thing Claudia explained to me is that the only things made from metal allowed in the theater design are the necessary brackets for holding electrical stuff, such as the house lights and the stage lights. Everything else is stone or wood, because metal changes the sound waves in the theater.
The theater was completed in 1661. The inaugural production was the comic opera Il podestà di Colognole by Giovanni Andrea Moniglia.
Once upon a time:
The stage set was hidden from view at the beginning of performances with a large painted curtain depicting Florence and the Arno. The curtain that covers the stage today is itself quite grand.
Why a windmill?
The Accademia degli Immobili, or the founders of the theater, took for themselves the rather incongruous (to me) Dutch windmill as their theater symbol. I could not understand this choice until Claudia explained that Florence’s riches were at the time based upon the trade with the north and, I suppose, especially the Netherlands. The windmill is used throughout the theater in subtle design features. It even appears on the knobs on the box door handles:
Initially reserved for the court and aristocracy, the theater was reopened from 1718 to the paying public. The operatic works of the great composers, such as Antonio Vivaldi, were staged.
Below are photos of the to-scale model of the theater as it would have originally appeared. You can see the coats-of-arms over each first level box. Claudia told me that the benches with backs and cushions were reserved for women, and the benches without backs were for me.
The neoclassical lobby was a later addition. It provides a grand welcome to all visitors.
The building of La Pergola was remodeled several times. It was enriched with new decorative schemes and enlarged with all of the crafts and skills of the stage art.
In 1801 the Saloncino, a large room with stuccos dedicated to music and dance, was opened on the first floor by architect Luca Ristorini (completely restored in 2000; it is the second hall of the theater). Ristorini had also, in 1789, had renovated the great hall, changing the box design to create a very large royal box at the far end of the theater, directly opposite the stage.
The period between 1823 and 1855 were great years for the Pergola, for it was managed by the impresario Alessandro Lanari. Under his direction, Florence became one of the most important stages of Italian classic opera. The most important composers, beginning with Bellini, made important appearances on Via della Pergola and Florentines first hear the music of Giuseppe Verdi when he made his renowned Macbeth debut in 1847. The museum under the main hall has a wooden chair built especially for Verdi to sit upon while directing rehearsals. He was having problems with his legs and the chair made life better for him.
In 1826, Gasparo Martellini painted the historical curtain depicting the coronation of Petrarca in Campidoglio which is still used at galas. The machinist, Cesare Canovetti, designed and constructed an ingenious wooden machine for lifting the stalls which forms the basis for the museum under the hall. It was used when the hall was converted into a ballroom, to make the floor a single plane with the stage. The architect, Baccani, modernized the theater, designing the the “Atrium of the Columns.” And, very notably, a young stage apprentice, Antonio Meucci, experimented with a voice communication system between the attic where the curtains and sets were managed from above and the the stage. Meucci’s invention was the ancestor of the telephone, which Meucci perfected, when he emigrated to the United States. According to Claudia, Meucci sold the design of his invention to Alexander Graham Bell who went on to produce the first telephone.
In the 19th century:
The theater’s illumination was upgraded to gas lights, and Florence enjoys the rank of capital of Italy. The theater board sells a share of the Academy to the King Vittorio Emanuele II. Later financial problems encountered by the theater were partially solved by the intervention of the Commune.
Electric lighting was incorporated in 1898. The theater underwent drastic changes along with the lighting: plays were substituted for the opera (which moved to the larger Florentine theaters, the Politeama and Pagliano).
In December 1906, Eleonora Duse arrives at the Pergola with the legendary Rosmersholm by Ibsen. This play was directed by Edward Gordon Craig and a dressing room was designed for the grand dame. This Primo Camerino, is still in use, conveniently located right next to the stage.
In 1925, the Pergola became a national monument. During WWII, the theater was managed by Aladino Tofanelli. Ownership was ceded to the state in 1942 and it soon became a part of the newly created Ente Teatrale Italiano.
When Tofanelli died, the young, brilliant and innovative Alfonso Spadoni, arrived and revitalized the Pergola, primarily with great dramas. The Pergola is seamlessly woven into the urban fabric of Florence, providing a setting for important cultural events.
Another brilliant young man, Marco Giorgetti, is at the helm now. Since 1999 Giorgetti has been hard at work, reestablishing the ties between the theater and the city.
Today the Pergola is much more than a theater. At the epicenter of the Teatro della Toscana Foundation and a theater of national importance, the Pergola is a living cultural center, using its history and prestige. It maintains very active programming. The brightest stars in the theater firmament shine at the Pergola.
Walking in the corridors of the theater is like reading a book sprinkled with immortal names. All the objects tell a story, the individual fibers of fabric or wood particles bear witness to memorable events.
Below: the neoclassical painting on the ceiling of the grand hall.
Backstage at the Pergola:
The stage as it appeared the day I visited:
Some vintage posters in the museum:
Wow. Just wow. I don’t know why I never paid a visit to this astounding place before now!
And, last, but certainly not least, you don’t see a lot of elephants in Italian art, but here is a big exception to the rule.
And much, much more.
PARIS — You can’t always expect to understand the work of Romeo Castellucci. But you’re sure to be awed by its beauty.
Especially when the Italian director — really, a polymathic theatrical artist — stages opera. His productions are rich in symbols and enigmas; each movement leads to a picture-perfect tableau….Mr. Castellucci’s latest project, Scarlatti’s “Il Primo Omicidio” (“The First Homicide”), which continues at the Paris Opera’s Palais Garnier through Feb. 23, is…relatively direct, yet still striking.
“It’s a portrait of Cain,” Mr. Castellucci said of Scarlatti’s 1707 oratorio, an account of the Cain and Abel story, in an interview under the ornate chandeliers of the Garnier’s grand foyer. “But it’s really about innocence.”
The switch from adult singers to children happens the moment Cain murders Abel. “We are in the domain of childhood,” Mr. Castellucci said. “It is a childish mythology.”
A story of jealousy and murder, in his telling, becomes one of rediscovering lost innocence, of adults in search of their youthful doppelgängers….a journey abounding in imaginative stage magic — with layers of lighting and scrims, Mr. Castellucci conjures vast Rothko canvases that have the soft seamlessness of a James Turrell — reaches its end.
The soprano Birgitte Christensen, center, as Eve.CreditJulien Mignot for The New York Times
For the scene in which Eve learns she will be a mother, Mr. Castellucci thought of the Annunciation — the angel Gabriel delivering the news to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. So he turned to “Annunciation With St. Margaret and St. Ansanus,” an Italian Gothic triptych by Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi that now hangs in the Uffizi in Florence.
But he turned it upside down. As Eve sings of her coming motherhood, the massive altarpiece is lowered, slowly, above her head. “It’s a kind of guillotine,” Mr. Castellucci said. “A menace.”