To mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and 500 years since the creation of the Ghetto in Venice, the European Union approved a three-year project entitled Shakespeare in and beyond the Ghetto: Staging Europe across Cultures. The project was chosen in a 2016 call for proposals for Creative Europe Culture Cooperation Projects.
In addition to Ca’ Foscari University, Venice (project leader) and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, the highly prestigious international partners supporting the project are Warwick University and Queen Mary University of London (United Kingdom), Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich (Germany) and the Teatrul Municipal Tony Bulandra Targoviste (Romania).
The aim of the project is to further knowledge about the life and work of William Shakespeare by framing his dramaturgy in its creative relationship with the settings described in his works. In this case the reference is to The Merchant of Venice.
The project consists of a series of various events – symposia, meetings, creative and performers’ workshops – designed and staged by the various partners involved.
The Theatre and Opera Study Centre has thus been and still is involved in promoting a series of activities at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini for the three-year period (2016-2018):
Shakespeare in Venice Summer School. The Shylock Project – Second Edition
Venice, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, 18-29 July 2016
Following on from the success of Summer del 2015, the Theatre and Opera Study Centre organised the second edition of the Shakespeare in Venice Summer School. The Shylock Project, in collaboration with Ca’ Foscari University, Venice and under the Patronage of the Committee for Five Hundred Years of the Venice Ghetto. The two-week programme of intensive studies involved many internationally renowned experts and university lecturers, and several events were open to the public. Moreover, the Summer School was held at the same time as the first ever production of The Merchant in Venice in the Venice Ghetto. Performed by the Compagnia de’ Colombari (Campo del Ghetto Novo, 26 July – 1 August 2016), the play was the second stage of the activities in the European project.
Shylock after Shylock –Shakespeare’s Masks
Venice, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, 14-18 November 2016
From 14 to 18 November 2016, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini Theatre and Opera Study Centre hosted a workshop entitled Shylock after Shylock – Shakespeare’s Masks, held by the theatre company Pantakin. Part of the third stage of the three-year project Shakespeare in and beyond the Ghetto: Staging Europe across Cultures, the workshop also served the purpose of selecting professional actors for a new theatre production as well as exploring the origins of Shakespearean characters and shedding light on the influence of maschere (“masks” or stock characters from Commedia dell’Arte) in the construction of the characters in his plays.
The Music of the Merchant
Venice, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, 24-30 July 2017
From 24 to 30 July 2017, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini Theatre and Opera Study Centre will take part in the fourth stage of the European Project by hosting a workshop entitled The Music of the Merchant, organised by Lucidarium Ensemble. The workshop sets out to explore the typical 16th-century “soundscape” in Venice. Dances and mascherate associated with Commedia dell’Arte and Carnival, Hebrew songs, liturgies and paraliturgies from the Jewish oral tradition will be the subject of a series of workshop sessions for singers and instrumentalists. There will also be classes on singing, woodwind instruments, tambourines and historic percussion instruments, with a special focus on musical repertories that have survived at least partially to the present day and the methods required to study and interpret them.
Shakespeare in Opera. Rewritings and Productions of Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice
Venice, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, 23-24 April 2018
On 23-24 April 2018, as part of the European project entitled Shakespeare in and beyond the Ghetto: Staging Europe across Cultures, the Institute of Theatre and Opera has organised an international conference entitled “Shakespeare in Opera. Rewritings and Productions of Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice”. The conference thus sets out to explore operatic versions of the two Shakespearean plays. Musicologists, drama historians and playwrights will analyse the contexts in which the musical productions of Shakespeare’s play developed. In fact, from the early 17th century to the present day, they have inspired librettists and composers.
Shakespeare all’Opera. Riscritture e allestimenti di “Romeo e Giulietta”
edited by Maria Ida Biggi e Michele Girardi, Edizioni di Pagina, Bari 2018
This book brings together the proceedings from the international conference entitled “Shakespeare in Opera. Rewritings and Productions of Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice” held at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini on 23-24 April 2018. The conference thus focused on operatic versions of the two Shakespearean plays. Musicologists, drama historians and playwrights analysed the contexts of musical productions based on the two texts, which have inspired librettists and composers from the early 17th century to the present day. During the conference, an abridged version of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice was put on by the cultural production company Tournée da Bar. The conference is another stage in the three-year project Shakespeare in and beyond the Ghetto: Staging Europe across Cultures (2016-2018), selected by the European Commission in a 2016 call for proposals for Creative Europe Culture Cooperation Projects. This book brings together the papers on the operatic versions of Romeo and Juliet, whereas those concerning The Merchant of Venice will be published in a second volume to be produced also as part of the European project.