Art and Music in Concert at Rome’s Museums This Fall

Museums in Music ad from Beniculturali, ItalyArt is great, and music is great. But art plus music? Well, that's even better.

If you agree, then you're in luck this fall: A number of museums in Rome are hosting concerts and other nighttime events.

The most-touted is Rome's "Musei in Musica," offering free concerts at museums all over Rome on Saturday, November 20. (More details are forthcoming, so check back in a few days). (Click here for more information about the 47 different concerts occurring). But there's lots else going on, too — some mainstream, some quirky, all incorporating music and visual art.

This Sunday, the Museo di Roma hosts its last Aperitivo ad Arte. Go at 7pm for the aperitivo, take in a jazz concert (Alice Ricciardi and Enrico Bracco) at 8pm, and at 9pm, take the guided tour (in Italian) of the museum's exhibit "Il Risorgimento a Colori," featuring 19th-century paintings of patriotism in the time of Italy's reunification. The cost is €11, and the museum, at Palazzo Braschi, is located right on Piazza Navona.

Want more jazz? On November 27, check out Jazz Noir at the Museo di Roma in Trastevere. On November 27, jazz guitarists Fabio Zeppetella and Umberto Fiorentino will perform as actors read out noir literature. Admission to the concert is free with your €5 ticket to the museum. Reservations are recommended (call 060608).

If you want something a little less heavy, then try the Budapest Bar-Urban Gipsy concert at the Museo dell'Ara Pacis. On November 17, the band — which blends contemporary and traditional Hungarian music — will play, the elaborate, ancient monument in honor of Emperor Augustus in the background. The concert is at 9:30pm. Reservations are required (call 060608), and the concert is free.

The Museo dell'Ara Pacis is also hosting a multimedia show called "Dedicated to Sara…" on Nov. 26, 27 and 28. The show incorporates music, dance and images, along with poetic verses by Joseph Manfridi. The performance costs €12; you can book in advance by calling 06 70493826. The performance begins at 9pm.

For something even more imaginative, don't miss the Villa Torlonia's "A Bell from the Owls," a surrealist performance inspired by the Villa Torlonia's House of the Owls. The performance, which takes place Nov. 27 at 11am and 3pm and Nov. 28 at 11am, is included with your €3 entrance.

And, every weekend through December 17-18 (and again on Jan. 7-8), the Centrale Montemartini, Rome's former power station turned museum of ancient art (London's Tate Modern with a twist!), hosts its "Central Notes" concerts. They range from orchestral film scores (like Stelvio Cipriani's concerts on Nov. 12 and 13, or Nicola Piovani Cyrano's Film Quintet on Nov. 19-20), to blues (Paul Millns and Butch Coulter, Dec. 3-4), to rock (American Elisabeth Cutler plays on Dec. 10-11). The food and wine tasting, plus concert, costs €8. The showings are on Fridays at 8pm and Saturdays at 10pm. For a full list of concerts, click here.

 

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China’s Terracotta Warriors Invade Rome

Terracotta warriors of Xian in the Curia, Roman forum, RomeIt's not every day that you see China's ancient, famous terracotta warriors from Xi'an in the also-ancient, also-famous Roman forum.

Now you can.

From now until January 9, 2011, Rome is hosting the exhibit "The Two Empires: the Eagle and the Dragon." Held in the Curia, or the ancient senate house in Rome's forum, the exhibit is the first to explicitly compare China's empire with Rome's.

But it's just a taste of what else Italy (and China) have planned.

The parallels between the countries' histories are certainly there. Both were extraordinarily sophisticated, militaristic empires. Both unified dozens of warring territories under the same political and economic systems. And both influenced all of history; just as modern-day Europe and the United States owe a great debt to the ancient Romans, so, too, do the modern-day Chinese owe the Qin and Han dynasties. (Those dynasties ruled China from the 3rd century B.C. to the 4th century A.D., a timeline that, too, parallels the height of the Roman empire).

And the artifacts that Rome's gotten ahold of for the exhibit are pretty fantastic. Most striking are, of course, the terracotta warriors, here on one of their rare trips away from Xi'an, China. More than 8,000 of them, each one different and detailed, were sculpted around 210 B.C. for Emperor Qinshihuang's tomb. Eight (plus a horse) are now in the Curia (pictured above). Seeing them in the same space as first-century Roman marble statues is striking — no less because of how much the two cultures shared in terms of their sophistication and technical skill alone.

Ancient Chinese sculpture in the Roman Curia, RomeWhile neat, the exhibit is far from thorough. It's just a teaser. And that's the whole idea. It's a preview of a bigger exhibit coming to Palazzo Venezia in November, which will boast 450 different Italian and Chinese pieces.

It also launches a long-term collaboration and cultural exchange with China, kicked off by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to Rome on October 7. That collaboration includes the participation of Italy's ministry of culture in China's new National Museum in Beijing, with a wing focused on Italian culture — and a reciprocal space for a state museum of Chinese culture in Palazzo Venezia.

So stay tuned. Update, Nov. 17: See my new blog post on the "Eagle and the Dragon" exhibit for information on the Palazzo Venezia show.

The exhibit at the Curia is open from 8:30am-6:30pm until October 24, from 8:30am-4:30pm afterward. Entrance is included in your forum/Colosseum/Palatine ticket. For more information (in Italian), click here

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Rome’s Best Fall Events, from Art to Aperitivo

Rome has so many exciting events coming up this autumn, I decided not to fit it all in one post. I will be updating this one, though (unlike my early-autumn events list), so bookmark this and check back. Last updated: November 11.

Lots of these events involve the extended, or free, openings of old favorites — so plan ahead to save a buck and miss the crowds.

September 21-25. Archeojazz, with a guided tour followed by a live jazz performance at the Mausoleo di Cecilia Metella.

September 25-26. European Heritage Days are here!

Until October 3. Oktoberfest in Rome, with music and lots of beers on tap from 6pm each night. Located on Via Appia here. (It's not in the center).

Until October 29. The Vatican museums open at night. And each Friday in October, they'll have live concerts, too.

Until October 28. The Villa Farnesina, usually open only weekdays from 9am-1pm, is open every Thursday evening, with free guided tours, from 7:30pm-10pm. 

November 17. Budapest Bar-Urban Gipsy concert at the Museo dell'Ara Pacis at 9:30pm. Reservations are required (call 060608), and the concert is free.

November 20. Musei in Musica, with free live concerts (and a couple of dance performances) in 47 different museums and institutes in Rome.

November 27. Jazz Noir at the Museo di Roma in Trastevere, a free performance of music and noir lit reading at 5pm (with your €5 ticket to the museum).

Until December 2. RomaEuropa Festival. The annual festival, now in its 25th year, boasts a series of music, dance and theater performances. Highlights this year include a production of "Orpheus" with hip-hop music and music by Monteverdi and Philip Glass, the British rock group "The Irrepressibles," and Laurie Anderson's "Delusion," a multimedia series of mystery plays that include violin, puppetry, and visuals.

Until December 28. On the last Tuesday of each month, some museums and sites in Rome, including the Borghese, Barberini and Baths of Diocletian, will be open from 7pm-11pm for free.

Until January 8. Each weekend except for the Christmas holidays, the Centrale Montemartini hosts its "Central Notes" concerts. The food and wine tasting, plus concert, costs €8. The showings are on Fridays at 8pm and Saturdays at 10pm.

Until January 9, 2011. "The Two Empires: The Eagle and the Dragon," an exhibit comparing the ancient Roman and Chinese empires, is on at the Roman curia and, after November, Palazzo Venezia.

Until February 6. "Vincent Van Gogh: Campagna senza tempo e città moderna," an exhibit of Van Gogh's works, will be on at the Vittoriano.

Until February 13. Lucas Cranach: The Other Renaissance, an exhibit of Cranach's work in the Borghese gallery.

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On Tuesday Nights, Free Art Across Italy

DSC_0162
Just in case all of the fun events and free entrances on European Heritage Day (September 25-26) weren't enough for you, mark the last Tuesday of the month in your calendar, too.

That's because, on the last Tuesday each month through December 28, a series of state-run museums and sites will have late openings and free entrances. It's called "Martedi in Arte" and takes place across Italy. In Rome and Lazio, the following sites will be open from 7pm-11pm and will be free:

  • Palazzo Barberini, with its reopened archaeological exhibit, Via Quattro Fontane 13
  • Pantheon
  • Borghese Museum
  • Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Viale delle Belle Arti 131
  • Baths of Diocletian, Via Romita 8
  • Crypta Balbi, Via delle Botteghe Oscure 31
  • Museo Nazionale Romano and Palazzo Massimo, Largo di Villa Peretti 1
  • Palazzo Altemps, Via di S. Apollinare 44
  • Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo, Lungotevere Castello 50
  • Villa d’Este, Tivoli (shown above)
  • Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli
  • Necropoli, Strada Provinciale Monterozzi Marina, Tarquinia

To see which sites will be open elsewhere in Italy, check out this list on MiBAC's site (in Italian, but pretty self-explanatory).

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Night Tours of the Baths of Caracalla, in the Guardian

Baths of Caracalla at night After posting about the opportunity to take night tours of the Colosseum and the Baths of Caracalla, I took a night tour of the baths myself — and wrote about it for the Guardian newspaper. You can read my piece, which posted today, here.

And let me tell you, grabbing night photos of those ruins while following a tour guide around was not the easiest….I’m glad my forgiving editor decided that at least one of the snaps was up to snuff. Here are a couple more.Ancient ruins of the Baths of Caracalla at night. Baths of Caracalla, Rome, at night

 

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European Heritage Day=Free Events and Entrances

Ancient statue of Marcus Aurelius in the Capitoline Museums - which will be free September 26.
On Sunday, September 26, On Saturday and Sunday, September 25-26, every state-run museum and site in Rome, and across Italy, will be free — including such big-time sites as the Colosseum, Borghese gallery, and Capitoline museums (shown above).

But free entrance is far from the only perk. Many sites are offering (mostly free) events. And those events sure do range. They include:

I beg you, as much as I'd love to see a Nordic-Walking mountain-biker who's spouting modern art knowledge and staggering from too much kosher wine, please don't do all four of these in one weekend.

The events and free entrances are all part of European Heritage Days, which the Council of Europe launched in 1991 to promote European art and culture. And while it's exciting, do keep in mind that at the highly-trafficked sites (like the Colosseum), lines are likely to be looong. Let me repeat that: looong.

So unless it's worth it to you to stand in a 3-hour line to save €12, I'd recommend hitting up the lesser-known galleries, instead. Think: the Palazzo Barberini (which just unveiled its refurbished archaeological wing and newly-restored Pietro da Cortona fresco), the Palazzo Massimo with its incredible archaeological collection, the MAXXI with its modern art and cutting-edge architecture…

The list goes on, so take advantage! It's not every day that you can do so much, while spending so little. At least in Rome.


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Tonight, the Colosseum Will Go Up in Flames

The Colosseum will be on fire for an art show this weekend, September 17 to 19.
If you see the Colosseum burning this weekend, don't call the fire brigade: The flames are virtual.

Artists Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz, from Denmark and Argentina, respectively, are putting on the show by using a pre-recorded video of real fire and projecting it onto the structure. Their digital manipulations of the film mean that they even can recreate the effect of wind fanning the flames — and the result is so realistic that, in the past, people have called emergency services.

The Colosseum show is part of their project "City on Fire: Burning the Roots of Western Culture." The two artists have been "burning" monuments since 2005, including the Trevi Fountain, Copenhagen Cathedral, and Seoul Museum.

The show will take place on the nights of September 17, 18, and 19, from 8:30pm to 2am. Given the recent announcement that Rome is looking for sponsors to restore the Colosseum and keep it from, well, crumbling to the ground, seems like kind of an odd choice.

Or, perhaps, an appropriate reminder that these monuments won't simply stand on their own forever.

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Late Summer and Fall’s Best Events in Rome

Don't be sad that the summer is ending and, with it, Rome's best summer's events! The autumn brings a new slew, too. I'll be updating this as we go along, so check back for more exciting events.*

September 5. Opening of the Jewish catacombs at Villa Torlonia. Remember to book… now!

Until September 8. Colori dell'Ara Pacis, a light show showing the Ara Pacis as it would have been. Wednesday nights only.

September 1-11. The annual International Festival of Urban Theatre puts on performances all over Rome, outdoors and indoors, including events for children.

September 3-October 29. The Vatican museums open at night.

September 17-20. The Colosseum will be set on fire (virtually) in an art show by Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz. 8:30pm-2am Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

September 19-20. La Notte di Raffaello. The newly-restored Palazzo Barberini opens Sunday night and Monday, offering free guided tours to the public.

September 21-December 2. RomaEuropa Festival. The annual festival, now in its 25th year, boasts a series of music, dance and theater performances. Highlights this year include a production of "Orpheus" with hip-hop music and music by Monteverdi and Philip Glass, the British rock group "The Irrepressibles," and Laurie Anderson's "Delusion," a multimedia series of mystery plays that include violin, puppetry, and visuals.

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