The city… and its Christmas

An image of a festive Venice is opening this December issue: it is the end-of-year concert which the city, represented by its historic La Fenice Theatre, is promoting as a symbol and hope for a near, better, future. This year though, perhaps, it will be something different.

As the whole world has learnt, the month of November marked one of the most difficult moments for the history of our city.

A series of high tides – high-waters as the Venetians call them – including the one on 12 November, second only to the one in 1966, the year for which the flooding of Florence is also remembered – a city we can consider a sister of Venice in terms of history and culture – have crippled the entire city.

Commercial and tourist activities, private residences and monumental areas, such as the Basilica of Saint Mark, have been sorely tried. A tide of one metre and 87 centimetres above sea level, just seven centimetres below the historic one in the November of ‘66, driven in by wind at one hundred kilometres per hour, has literally flooded the city, inflicting damage to all its structures and injuring its inhabitants psychologically, as well as materially.

Nature sometimes knows how to be hard on man and those who built this city on water, over a thousand years ago, knew this well.

In the same way as it is also well known by the Venetians who still live here today despite everything, and who have managed once again to recover.

So, the city is in top form again and ready, as it has always done, to welcome those who love it and, above all, who respect it.

Museums, churches, restaurants, shops, hotels, artisans, gondoliers, citizens, all together, even in such difficult circumstances, have all resumed their activities. And we, as we have always done for over forty years, in our own small way and thanks to our advertisers, are presenting their always exceptional offerings within these pages.

Here then, as always when we begin, are some hints about the events and what our city will offer to our visitors this month.

Let us begin with La Fenice Theatre and the image that has always characterised it, a phoenix, the mythological bird symbolising rebirth, a rebirth which this true temple of music has experienced on itself twice, in its case, due to flames.

The month starts with Don Carlos, the Verdi opera which has recently inaugurated the new opera season, with its last two performances (2, 7 December). During the pre-Christmas period, the Malibran Theatre stage will also host five performances of Pinocchio, by the composer from Vicenza Pierangelo Valtinoni (from 13 to 21 December).

For the music season, we shall instead highlight Gustav Mahler’s Symphony n. 9, the last one the Bohemian composer managed to finish, with La Fenice Orchestra conducted by maestro Myung-Whun, who will also conduct the New Year concert with the theatre’s orchestra, performing over four evenings from 29 December to 1st January.

Also for music we may mention the evening with famous singer-author and writer Vinicio Capossela, who will present his latest album (15 December), and the traditional rendez-vous with the Christmas Concert performed by the Marciana Chapel Choir led by Marco Gemmani, within the suggestive scenario of

the Basilica of Saint Mark (17 and 18 of the month).

Another important programme regarding theatre

is the Carlo Goldoni Resident Theatre’s. It starts on 4 December with an iconic figure in contemporary music, such as Manuel Agnelli, the frontman of Afterhours, then continuing with an evening featuring satire, proposed by popular comedian Enrico Bertolino (6 December) and with four performances of A people’s bank, a comedy by Romolo Bugaro (from 12 to 15 December).

The Christmas season will then kick-off with the Christmas concert by popular Pooh band author Red Canzian (18), and will follow with the two evenings of My favorite Christmas, with the 200 voices choir of the Big Vocal Orchestra (21, 22), then closing with a festive New Year’s Eve with a special Don Quixote inspired by Commedia dell’Arte.

From theatres, to museums (we are listing the whole panorama apart, for these), to art exhibitions: these are indeed the must-haves for a city which has always been devoted to art.

Following the end of the Biennale showcase parade, the city keeps offering certain significant opportunities for enthusiasts and non.

Starting from the Ducal Palace and Renaissance art, with masterpieces from Flemish museums in “From Titian to Rubens”, the exhibition presenting 80 paintings (but also drawings, glass and statues), some of them never even displayed to the public before. Then there is modern art with the Peggy Guggenheim, the last dogaressa exhibition, dedicated to the great American collector, marking seventy years from her first exhibition at the Biennale and forty since the opening of her famous collection at Ca’ Venier dei Leoni, in fact, the current Guggenheim Collection; and contemporary art, presented by the Pinault Foundation with its exhibitions at Palazzo Grassi – the anthological one on Luc Tuymans – and the spectacular collective one Place and Signs at Punta della Dogana.

Still for painting, this time, at the turn of the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, this month offers the beautiful anthological display at Ca ’Pesaro on the landscape painter from the Burano School, Umberto Moggioli.

Then there is the historical showcase about Francesco Morosini “last hero of the Serene Republic” set up in the Correr Museum venues. Glass (never absent from the Venetian art scene) is the protagonist of the exhibition on work at Venini’s by American artist Thomas Stearn at The Rooms of Glass, and the one on Murano master Livio Seguso, at the Museum of Glass, in Murano. Finally, for photography, the main offering is an anthological on Sicilian master Ferdinando Scianna, visible at the venues of the Casa dei Tre Oci, on the Giudecca.

Not only. Christmas in Venice will also feature concerts and nativity-cribs in the churches; the solemn Mass celebrated by the Patriarch on Christmas Eve at the Basilica of Saint Mark; the Christmas tree in the Square; the decorated windows of shops and artisans; the antiques street-market in San Maurizio Square, the ice-skating rink at San Polo; the fireworks on water on New Year’s Eve…

Of course, this will not be a Christmas like any other ones for Venice, the lights may not glitter quite like past years but, we are certain, the Venetians, and all those who are and shall be close to her this Christmas, will not fail to prove their love for her once again.

To all of them and to our city, we at a Guest in Venice, want to wish a Merry Christmas even more, this time, hoping that the protection system named MO.S.E, expected for so many years, will soon be operative and may over the coming years protect this extraordinary city, which has always belonged not only to the Venetians, but to the whole of mankind.