Sunday, December 29, 2013

NAPLES' MUSICAL TRADITION

Naples is right up there with the likes of Vienna and Paris when it comes to an influence on the course of classical music. In its case, it was playing a part at a much earlier stage.
The very word 'conservatory' for a school of music goes back to Naples in the 16th Century, when Spain was the power in the area. In conjunction with the church, homes were set up to protect, or 'conserve', unmarried mothers and their children, and orphans too. Music was an important part of the curriculum in these conservatories, and singers would be trained to take their part in the various religious ceremonies.
When music as commercial entertainment began to develop, these schools were well-placed to move into that environment, and it was only natural that they would evolve into more specific centres of excellence.
The proof of that is in the roll call of famous names who'd have gone to study – Scarlatti, Pergolesi, Cimarosa.
When the French took over Naples in the early 1800s, the various schools were made into one. By then, the city's Teatro San Carlo was well-established as one of the continent's leading houses. The oldest opera house in Europe, San Carlo predated La Scala in Milan by more than 40 years. La Fenice in Venice would be more than a decade further behind.



Friday, December 20, 2013

TECHNAPOLI

I wanted to ask you about your region in Italy, as a few techno stars come from there. What do you think is so special about that part of Italy?
Joseph Capriati: Napoli is the capital of techno in Italy, the most important techno artists in Italy come from there; Marco Carola, Marc Antonio, Davide Squillace, Gaetano Parisio – everyone is from Napoli, a lot of people don’t know this. They were there from the early Nineties making techno, and people only discovered them a few years ago that’s the funny thing. Right now though Napoli is finally getting the recognition it deserves around the world, it’s TechNapoli now. Our style of techno is influenced by funky bass and happy grooves, that’s why we call it ‘Funk TechNapoli’ because it’s our kind of techno.
I’m very proud to be from Napoli because there’s a real, proper scene and it’s getting close to what they have in Detroit and Berlin. We just need a few more years to show people what we’re all about but we’re getting there – it has to be respected as one of the capitals of techno. There is not a lot going on in the commercial end of things, everyone has their own studio and nobody helps us to make tracks. There is a strong spirit in Napoli and we’re like a big crew, we share things and this makes me very proud to be from there.

Friday, December 6, 2013

BORGO GIARDINO

“A garden will save us”,  Franco Dragone - creator of Cirque du Soleil – is convinced. Dragone was born in Cairano, Italy an endangered southern Apennine village of about 290 inhabitants located between Campania, Basilicata and Puglia.
His idea was taken up by the last inhabitants of Cairano and a working group coordinated by Angelo Verderosa, and in early June ”Borgo Giardino” was initiated as part of Cairano 7x 2011.
The main idea of  ”Cairano 7x” is to revive and live in marginal places such as Cairano in the southern Apennines and to introduce new creative ideas that recognize shared values ​​through communication of ’paesologico’.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

THE STORY OF SAN MICHELE

It was said that in Axel Munthe’s one major book there were enough plots and short stories to fill the rest of most writers’ lives. 
It became a beloved classic, variously described as amazing, horrible, hilarious, romantic, pitiful, enchanting, and possessing that strange simplicity of mind which is often the attribute of genius. 
In 1887, he began to restore the Villa San Michele on Capri, and found himself doing much of the work, cajoling local residents into giving him a hand. His experiences form the basis of the book that outshone anything else he wrote, The Story of San Michele. With just a charcoal sketch drawn on a garden wall to guide them, Munthe and his helpers rebuilt the house and chapel over five summers, their often hopeless-seeming project leading them to buried skeletons and ancient coins, and to some very funny encounters with a cast of eccentric villagers. 
The book is simply written but passionate, dream-like, and redolent of a hot Italian summer – and it also contains discussions with animals and supernatural entities. His son continued his mansion-remodelling legacy.

Friday, November 15, 2013

NEAPOLITAN FLIP

I've been known to impulse-buy antique and unusual coffee brewers whenever I come across them, so it's only natural I would snatch up a Neapolitan Flip brewer at the first opportunity. Drawn to the idea of a hands-off pour-over method, I also love the simple logic of the design, even as I tried to hack it to make the coffee taste better. 
Called Napoletana or cuccumella in Italian, the pots were likely invented in Naples in the 17th century, and were modeled after an earlier coffee pot invented by the French Archbishop Jean-Baptiste de Belloy. The pots became very popular in Naples and throughout Southern Italy, and while they look like their more modern cousin the moka pot, a cuccumella uses gravity instead of pressure in order to brew. 
The small size is perfect for a single serving, and the aluminum pieces are super durable and easy to clean.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

ROCCAFORTE

A square, a monument, a basaltic weft, the sky and the night, fractals of genius loci, self referenced stories, colours and smells, ethnography: each city, Davide Bramante notes, “ is the place of our vision, such as nature and its cosmos were in the past, cities now are the real imagery of present times because they are made with my images”. Artworks, realized with the technique of multiple exposition on shooting, are mounted under plexiglass: each one unveils all the meticulous details composing the vision of the artist. 
With Roccaforte, audience sinks in something seeming natural but is out of the ordinary, as in a complex net to be perceived in its struggling time ambiguity: “…Sometimes I mix these things and do not understand if I am going back or forward the time and the space”, the artist ends. The show entitles Roccaforte because Bramante likes to accentuate the relation with Naples, a city that always represented a reference and the main creative source in his practice during the years since his first solo show on 1999. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

POMPEII IN THE PUBLIC IMAGINATION

The city of Pompeii has had an enormous impact on Western imaginations since its rediscovery under the ashes of the volcano that destroyed it in 79 CE. In the 250 years since excavations began, Pompeii has helped to bring the ancient world to life for everyone, from music hall audiences to gentleman scholars, and it continues to have an impact on the way in which we think about the past, and the human condition itself. 
The contributors to this generously illustrated volume, who include the novelist Robert Harris, in a recorded interview, investigate how Pompeii has been used in film, fiction, and art on both sides of the Atlantic over three centuries. 
They explore the many different ways in which Pompeii inhabits our imaginations: as ghostly relic of human suffering, romantic ruin, model of cultural inspiration, home of a distant, decadent culture, and comforting model for everyday life.

Monday, September 23, 2013

HOOVERPHONIC - AMALFI

Morning sunshine
You are always smiling when I open my....
My eyes do shine
Radiate like a nuclear dense cloud

You're like a real strong cup of tea
Giving me more than energy
Caffeine is just a small advance

For all the triggers that make me

Na nana nana nananana boy you make me dance
Na nana nana nananana you put me in a trance

Good night sleep tight
feels as if I could swim across the ocean
My Film star
Playing the lead in my nightly stop motion

Ginseng is weak compared to you
I'm wandering round without a clue
By enforcing my sweet fantasy
My pheromones are making me

Like the Amalfi
Coast you are wildly curling beautiful
Hypno-tising
Water makes me fond of the un useful

Long time ago I fell for you
But we had so much more to do
It took a while to synchronize
But now we're locked it makes me

Friday, September 13, 2013

VILLA CRAWFORD

Francis Marion Crawford was an American writer born in 1854 in Italy to American parents. Crawford first novel was a success. 
Returned in Europe married Elizabeth Christophers Berdan and purchased a property in Sant'Agnello di Sorrento which became Villa Crawford. The couple raised two sons and two daughters. 
Through the 1880s and 1890s Crawford wrote over forty romance and adventure novels and histories, many set in Italy and most selling well in both America and Europe; he traveled often to lecture and write, as well as to sail in his yacht, the Alda. 
Crawford wrote almost daily to his wife when he lectured in America, sailed off the Italian coast, or when she fled the summer heat of Villa Crawford.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

SETTEMBRATA

Settembrata on Anacapri means Italian musicians singing in the street, pacchiane (local women dressed in Neapolitan garb) carrying baskets of grapes on their heads, and contadini (farmers) pushing wooden wagons piled high with the first seasons grapes.                         
This is la festa dell’uva e della vendemmia, the festival of the grape and wine harvest.      
The festa takes its name from September, it blesses the coming vendemmia, and kisses summer good bye. Settembrata was first started in 1923 by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Edwin Cerio, and Lino Lipinsky.

Friday, August 23, 2013

THE PIZZA REVOLUTION

There's a pizza revolution going on – and it doesn't involve pineapple or hotdog-stuffed crusts. 
Why does it matter? Because Naples is the spiritual home of the pizza. Naples gave the world what the Oxford Companion to Food terms "the archetype of modern pizzas". 
The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana produces a mind-bendinglylong and precise booklet about what constitutes an authentic Napoletana pizza, with edicts on acceptable toppings (sorry, no pineapple). But for British producers of Neapolitan-style pizzas, what matters are the quality ingredients and techniques: 00 flour, Italian tinned tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), fresh basil and firm fior di latte (mozzarella made from cow's milk) in the case of a classic margherita. The dough is left to rise slowly, then cooked for 60 to 90 seconds in a blisteringly hot wood-fired oven. The bases should be thin and softer in the middle of the circle, with a puffy cornicione (crust).

Friday, July 26, 2013

EUCALYPTUS CAMALDULENSIS

First up was the tree's Aboriginal history. The Kaurna people, original inhabitants of the Adelaide Plains, called it Karra or more fully, Karrawirraparri (literally 'redgum-forest-river'). The tree was central to their lives as source of food and shelter, and supplier of timber for shields and other implements. 
Ironically the tree's botanical name, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, originated in 1832, when a botanist admired and named a single specimen grown by monks outside Naples. The eucalyptus was already spreading in 1832.
Frederick Dehnhardt was chief gardener of L' Hortus Camalduensis di Napoli, also known as the Camaldoli gardens, a private garden owned by the Count of Camaldoli, near Naples, Italy. Here, Dehnardt grew, and named, the type specimen of the River Red Gum, Eucalyptus camalduensis in 1832. His botanical specimens are housed in the Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria.

Friday, July 5, 2013

GESTURE IN NAPLES

Andrea de Jorio, Canon of the Cathedral of Naples and an expert on Greek antiquities, noticed that the gestures represented on ancient Greek vases appeared to be the very ones executed with such vigor and panache by his fellow citizens. He therefore undertook what would be the first ethnographic study of gestures in everyday life in order to defend Neapolitans, and by extension Southern Europeans, against imputations of primitivism, vulgarity, and emotional extravagance by connecting their gestural practices to classical antiquity. 
Gestures in ancient Greek art and writing, he thought, could be interpreted through contemporary gestures. By the same token, these Neapolitan gestures could be ennobled by attribution to classical sources.
Adam Kendon, a contemporary gesture theorist and editor as well as translator of the present work, speculates that Naples may have been uniquely positioned to preserve and elaborate the Greek gestural practices to which it is heir. 
Originally founded as a Greek city state, Naples became and remained for centuries thereafter a crowded, densely built urban center. Because of its mild climate, interior spaces were only partially bounded and Neapolitans, as one eighteenth-century observer noted, lived most of their life in the streets. The possibility of maintaining visual forms of communication over the ambient noise, using gestures as a private or partially concealed channel in contrast to broadcast speech, or producing gestural counters to or commentaries on their own or other's conversations, led Neapolitans to cultivate gestural communication with gusto. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

PICASSO'S TAILOR

“Picasso is a little model,” Michele Sapone told Time magazine in 1971. “I have made him velvet robes, kilts, jackets embroidered in the Yugoslav manner. I assure you, he wears them with majesty.”
Il Sarto di Picasso’s (Picasso’s Tailor) photographs reveal much about the interplay between master tailor and illustrious client, all the while placing the Italian Sapone, his wife Slavka and their daughter Aïka dead centre of Continental Europe’s mid-century artistic milieu. Sapone was the recipient of works by leading artists, though when recalling the first time he was offered one in exchange for a suit (by the Florentine artist Manfredo Borsi) he confessed: “I had never looked at a painting in my whole life; I looked at women.”

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

OUR EXPLOSIVE PAST

Reset researchers have used evidence of a devastating eruption of the Campi Flegrei volcano west of Naples 39,000 years ago.
Recent studies have shown this eruption was much more destructive than previously recognised.
Some researchers have even suggested that Campi Flegrei – the biggest volcanic eruption in Europe for more than 200,000 years – would have had a catastrophic impact. Vast plumes of ash would have blotted out the sun for months, or possibly years, and caused temperatures to plummet. Sulphur dioxide, fluoride and chloride emissions would have generated intense falls of acid rain. 
Neanderthals may simply have shivered and choked to death.
The Campi Flegrei eruption not only gives us a date for the Neanderthals' disappearance, it may provide us with the cause of their extinction, though Professor Chris Stringer sounds a note of caution. "Some researchers believe there is a link between the eruption and the Neanderthals' disappearance. But I doubt it," he said. "From the new radiocarbon dating and the work carried out by Reset scientists, it looks as if the Neanderthals had probably already vanished. A few may still have been hanging around, of course, and Campi Flegrei may have delivered the coup de grace. But it would be wrong to think the eruption was the main cause of the Neanderthals' demise."

Friday, May 17, 2013

A PLACE IN THE SUN

A Place In The Sun adapted and re-contextualized the Australian model [ Neighbours ] to a considerable extent, introducing features and contents that were specifically and unmistakably Italian into the world of the serial, starting from the multi-layered articulation of the 'place'.
Un posto al sole is set in the southern city of Naples, where is also produced and shot. Naples is a highly recognizable and familiar setting for Italians, owing to its traditional presence in popular films, music and theatre.
A Place In The Sun exploits Naples as a sumptuos scenographic resource for the numerous scenes shot on location, giving this soap a brightness that is unusual in the genre, and as a linguistic and stylistic resource - the Neapolitan accents, the humorous tone of som of the characters and situations - which reinforce the overall effect of cultural proximity and recognizability.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

IT'S NOW OR NEVER

In the summer of 1960 Elvis released a single that created as permanent division among his following. It's Now or Never was an ornately orchestrated rewrite of the classic Neapolitan ballad O Sole Mio, an awfully long way from what purists believed to be his roots in the vernacular music of dirt-poor Tennessee. 
It prefigured Kitsch Elvis – the Presley of Are You Lonesome Tonight, Wooden Heart, Surrender, Bossa Nova Baby and Viva Las Vegas – and thereafter his music tended to be a highly personal mixture of Nashville, New York and Naples (and occasional detours to Nazareth).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

CAPRI - THE ISLAND REVISITED

This book came about because of a chance visit to an old library in a 14th-century building in the centre of Capri.
My attention was caught by a title called simply ‘Capri’ by John Clay MacKowen, published in Naples, in English, in 1884.  A frail little book – now apparently unobtainable even via antiquarian websites – was duly brought and I began to read.  It turned out to be a compelling account of just about everything to do with the island – its prehistory, geology and palaeontology, its grottoes and spectacular landscape, the splendour of its residence for twenty years as the seat of the Emperor Tiberius, the richness of its archaeology, its turbulent political years during the Middle Ages and start of the modern era, and on through to the later part of the nineteenth century when Capri became a magnet for travellers, writers and scholars, holding them all with the magic that still brings its visitors back year after year.
I’m a publisher by trade and felt that there could be other people who would be equally pleased to read this informative and spirited story. The new chapters [ that take the original material up to the present day ] are illustrated and fully referenced, and the book is completed by a bibliography and a detailed index.
But how much was known about John Clay MacKowen?  Our efforts to find out more led to some interesting seams of unexpected information. It was correctly known that he had fought in the American Civil War and that he had come to Capri in later life, making his home in an old Aragonese tower in Anacapri on the western side of the island.

Monday, April 15, 2013

REINE DE NAPLES

Many know Breguet for its superb complicated timepieces or for the incredible historical watch inventions made by its founding father, Abraham-Louis Breguet, who is credited with creating the world’s first tourbillion (a watch with an escapement that compensates for the errors in timekeeping due to the effects of gravity when the watch is in certain positions), which he patented in 1801. What many may not realize is that Breguet created the first known wristwatch. 
In 1810, Napoleon’s younger sister, Caroline Murat, wife of the King of Naples, wrote to Abraham-Louis Breguet requesting he create a watch for her wrist with a bracelet made of hair and thin threads of gold. Considered the forefather of many great watchmaking inventions, Breguet had an exceptional reputation amongst the European elite due to his tireless thirst for perfection in horology. “It is unclear if the wristwatch was Abraham-Louis Breguet’s idea or the queen’s,” says Emmanuel Breguet, Breguet’s descendant and today, the historian for the brand. “Hence, we say that we are cocreators of the first wristwatch.”

Monday, April 1, 2013

THE CHOICE OF HERCULES

In a letter dated January 19, 1712, two months after his arrival in Naples, the Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713), philosopher and theoretician, complained of being unable to meet a painter worthy of the name. But shortly afterwards he said that he was happy to have found an eminent one, Paolo de Matteis. His accounts book contains mention of a payment for preparatory drawings for the painting to illustrate his treatise entitled A Notion of the Historical Draught or Tablature of the Judgment of Hercules according to Prodicus (1713). In this, he held that the decisive element of pictorial creation is in the intellectual conception of the subject, with the intervention of the painter being completely secondary. The subject of the painting-Hercules' choice between the world of appearances and objective values-actually forms the conclusion to the book: "Tis evident however from Reason it-self, as well as from History and Experience, that nothing is more fatal, either to Painting, Architecture, or the other Arts, than this false Relish, which is govern'd rather by what immediately strikes the Sense, than by what consequentially and by reflection pleases the Mind, and satisfies the Thought and Reason."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

VOLCANISM IN THE CAMPANIA PLAIN

The contributors to the volume bring new data (experiments on volatile solubility, fluid-melt inclusions, tectonic, geophysical, isotope, geochronology), which are helpful in the creation of new models for a better understanding of the behaviour of the volcanic systems. In particular a hydrothermal model is used to explain the ground movements (bradyseism) at Campi Flegrei. To develop such a model, the authors use an analogue for the evolving Campi Flegrei sub-volcanic system, the model of the porphyry mineralized systems. For Campanian Ignimbrite the authors highlight the impact crystal-liquid separation has on melt compositional evolution and particularly focus on trace element and Th isotope evidence for open-system processes in the magma body associated with the Campanian Ignimbrite.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

PINK FLOYD LIVE AT POMPEII

That summer Adrian Maben, holidaying in Italy, took a sightseeing trip to the 2,000-year-old amphitheatre in Pompeii, at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. After losing his passport during the visit, Maben persuaded the security guards to let him back into the amphitheatre to look for it. Alone in the deserted arena in the dwindling light, he was struck by the ghostliness of the setting, and the fabulous natural acoustics  amplifying the sound of buzzing insects and flying bats flitting among the ruins.
Maben wanted Pink Floyd playing an empty amphitheatre to a film crew and a handful of roadies.  One of Floyd’s stipulations was that Maben had to film and record them playing live. 
Performing beneath the baking Mediterranean sun, and to an audience of cameramen, assorted roadies and a few local kids that had talked their way in, the footage offers a revealing glimpse of the post-Syd, pre-superstar Pink Floyd. The newborn ‘Echoes’ matches its surroundings perfectly: a languid, unhurried performance intercut with  snaps of the surrounding sculptures and gargoyles for added drama. Later, as the song rumbles on, the band are shot loping across the bubbling lava pools and steaming, sulphurous rocks on Mount Vesuvius - all tie-dyed T-shirts and stovepipe hats - like four Kings Road hippies transplanted to a prehistoric landscape.

Monday, March 4, 2013

THE VILLA DEI PAPIRI AT HERCULANEUM

The Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum - buried during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, then rediscovered in 1750 - contained a large collection of bronze and marble statuary and busts. Before they were published or exhibited, the sculptures were restored so as to appear whole, thereby helping to shape early modern tastes in classical sculpture.
This book describes the nature of the ancient sculptures and their impact on the modern public. Their chance discovery affected the interpretation of the statues―their styles and subjects―over the course of the next 250 years. The ancient sculptures were copied extensively in reproductions of various sizes and patinas.

Monday, February 11, 2013

SEDE VACANTE

Celestine V was crowned in the city of Aquila in the Church of Santa Maria di Colle Maggio on the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29).
It was expected that the Pope would return immediately to Rome, but Charles II, King of Naples, influenced Celestine to take up residence in his kingdom. According to the Anonymous of Paris ms. 5375, et sic de mense octobri tota curia romana iter arripuit Neapolitanum. The Pope took up residence in Naples (November 5, 1294), where he lived in the Castel Nuovo.
It became apparent immediately upon Celestine assuming the papal tiara that the job was wrong for the man, and the man was wrong for the job. Cardinals began to complain, and (in Ptolemy's words) stimulatur ab aliquibus Cardinalibus, quod papatu cedat. Celestine longed to return to his solitary life, and actually had a facsimile of his hut on Monte Morrone built in the papal apartments of the Castel Nuovo in Naples. He summoned advisors and legal experts, and asked for opinions as to whether he could resign the Papacy. They provided him with examples of earlier pontiffs who had resigned.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

BELOVED EMMA

From her humble beginnings as the daughter of a countryside blacksmith, Emy Lyon went on to claim the undying love of naval hero Admiral Nelson, England’s most famous native son. 
She served as model and muse to eighteenth-century Europe’s most renowned artists, and consorted with kings and queens at the royal court of Naples. Yet she would end her life in disgraced exile, penniless and alone. 
In this richly drawn portrait, Flora Fraser maps the spectacular rise and fall of legendary eighteenth-century beauty Emma, Lady Hamilton—as she came to be called—a woman of abundant affection and overwhelming charm, whose eye for opportunity was rivaled only by her propensity for overindulgence and scandal. Wonderfully intimate and lavishly detailed, Beloved Emma brings to life the incomparable Lady Hamilton and the politics, passions, and enchantments of her day.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

CANZONA PER SAN GENNARO

Following a series of disasters in the 16th and 17th centuries
the inhabitants of Naples chose St Gennaro as holy protector of the city.
They built a chapel, the Tesoro di San Gennaro, which became a local centre of musical excellence, from whose charts and songbooks are drawn the motets and sinfonia collected here. Accompanied by a small ensemble of strings, I Turchini weave wonderfully ornamented interplay of sopranos and countertenor over bass and tenors, the staccato repetition of syllables in pieces like Caresana's "Canzona per San Gennaro" and Nicola Fago's "Confitebor" akin to a formalised laughter, while on less flamboyant works like Fago's "Stabat Mater" the prominent bass brings a more sombre atmosphere.