ZGW 03 - 04 - 2010

Cultural novelties are a must for the Tour. Its fun ending a statement with "... when I was in Shanghai (Rome, St. Petersburg, Cambodia, etc.)." Two of my favorites so far where enjoyable separately, but when said together show the global nature of the trip. When in Rome, many students went to see the symphony perform music by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaichovsky. I do not have enough training in classical music to write a review so I will shorten my commentary to simply beautiful. Half the experience, however, was the architecture of the Renzo Piano Auditorium (lower photo). The materiality of the concert hall was simple: wood. The floor, the walls, the ceiling, and the acoustical baffles were all wood. The use of the material was innovative and perfect. From the ceiling were hung large, sweeping billows that created a dynamic interior out of the monotonous material. The contemporary design contrasted beautifully with the mid-19th century music. Ironically, after seeing a Russian symphony in Italy, a small group of students went to see a performance of Don Giovanni by Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the famous Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Italian opera was performed in the original language with only Russian subtitles, leaving myself and others confused to the details of the intricate plot-line. However, the beauty of the vocal and instrumental performance transcended language barriers. The uniquely modern set design was starkly simple against the ornate 1860 theatre interior (upper photo). Updated Italian operas in historic Russian theaters and classic Russian symphonies performed in the most contemporary of Italian venues accurately demonstrate the cross-cultural experiences of the trip.

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